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Most reviews of this film that I have read described this film as poor. Actually it really isn't. Its just that the other 40's Phillip Marlowe films are better. George Montgomery tries hard as Marlowe, but he is a bit to young looking to be convincing as a hard boiled detective. Ideally,an actor in his thirties or forties should have been cast; old enough to have grown world weary but still young enough to woo the babes. Despite this films faults, its still worth a look and is not the dismal failure some critics have claimed it is.
In the mid-1940s Hollywood discovered Raymond Chandler: Murder, My Sweet (1944), The Big Sleep (1946) and The Lady in the Lake (1947). Also from '47, John Brahm's The Brasher Dubloon is a version of Chandler's The High Window and, unfortunately, the most disappointing of this crop. Troubles start with the running time; at 72 minutes, that's not enough time for Chandler's baroque structures to start to unfurl, unless you reduce them to mere plot (and plot is not Chandler's long suit). Second, there's George Montgomery trying to fill the shoes of Dick Powell, Humphrey Bogart and the other Montgomery, Robert. He doesn't. While he's pleasant enough -- as a light leading man -- he swallows line after line of the script smoothly where a more nuanced actor would have found a whole ham sandwich to sink his teeth into. Still, there are good points here, especially in Brahm's directing. The big old mansion with its twin, massive turrets is especially ominous with the Santa Ana winds whistling outside; Florence Bates, as its owner, knows how to grande-dame it with the best; and a striking series of sinister characters take us down meaner and ever meaner streets. With a better star and a more leisurely pace, this private-eye flick could have been a contender.
Can't add much to what has already been said, but what this film has
over some of the better known Marlowe films is some real Los Angeles
location photography, which gives it a special atmosphere; the eerie
Pasadena mansion with huge palm trees blowing in the wind, and a
rambling old Craftsman house in the Hollywood Hills on a windy
Among other films based on Raymond Chandler stories, "The Big Sleep," in particular, all filmed on indoor sets, has no feeling of Los Angeles at all. George Montgomery in "Brasher Doubloon" is a lightweight, but the film is fun and entertaining. Surprising that it is virtually NEVER shown on TV. I only saw it because a pal owns a 35mm print.
The late 1940's produced some of Hollywood's best film noir....Out of
the Past, Murder my Sweet, The Blue Dahlia, Crossfire, The Dark Corner,
Dark Passage, The Big Sleep....and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, The Brasher Doubloon was not one of them! However, the
1947 film with George Montgomery as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe,
has gotten a bad rap! It has terrific atmosphere...that old mansion,
the Santa Ana winds, terrific character actors and that exceptional
personality - actress Florence Bates.
True, George Montgomery doesn't possess the world weariness of Humphrey Bogart or Dick Powell (both of whom played Marlowe previously), but there is a winsomeness about his character that keeps surviving the constantly battering given to him that works for the film. Nancy Guild as the young woman in distress possesses a femme fatale quality which was often found in noir films of the time...ie..Martha Vickers in 'Big Sleep', Mary Astor in 'Falcon' as well as Veronica Lake and June Duprez "Murder My Sweet".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mysterious, Moody Mansions, juicy but unexpected villains, great characters, especially Florence Bates as the mother of the 'Poor little Rich Boy', played by youthful fresh-faced and very talented Conrad Janis, whose 'Peck's Bad Boy act', contrasted with his boyish charm, makes you not want him to be part of his mother's dark machinations, and murderous plot to drive poor Nancy Guild over the edge into madness. Nancy Guild's name may not have been as powerful a draw as Lauren Bacall's, or other sultry Film Noir Stars, and George Montgomery may not have had the 'gravitas' Humphrey Bogart so easily exuded, but together this movie is as thrilling these many years later, as our memories are of the more famous Film Noirs of the time. It is not a white knuckle ride, but it is insidiously unnerving, taut, 'shivery' and darkly sensual, and represents a classic style of filming which is layered with conventional ploys of the era in which it was created, but frankly so much more satisfying that most of today's lukewarm fare. Three cheers or 20 for this fun whodunit.
Some movies in the 40's starred Humphuy Bogart and some didn't. This one didn't. The Raymond Chandler story is however a very good, tight detective tale with a nice twist to the plot. If only the acting and directing were up to the task. But if you like 1940's detective stories with great location and some half way decent camera work, give "The Brasher Doubloon" a try. Perhaps it won't thrill you, but it won't put you to sleep either.
_The Brasher Doubloon_ is clearly second tier, with at least one scene in Marlowe's office copied directly (and painfully directly) from _The Maltese Falcon._ If the characters are stereotypes and Montgomery's voice over shy-making in its adolescent appreciation of Merle Davis's beauty, the pacing and plot movement are still satisfactorily brisk. Florence Bates is perfect as the crusty, port-sodden Elizabeth Bright Murdock, and the night club goons look just right. It's not a masterpiece but is a diverting hour and a half. The final revelation is ingeniously presented as it involves a film-within-the-film and the way in which this key piece of evidence for the story came into being is more concretely explained in the movie than in Chandler's original, the one way in which the motion picture is superior to the published novel.
I really can't comment on this title because I've never seen it. No station (including TCM) ever shows it, and it's not available on DVD or VHS. What bothers me the most is that Fox Studios still has the rights, and, with their Fox Film Noir series, one would think that it would be made available. So, what's up, Fox? What are you waiting for? I've been disappointed with the manner in which Fox has handled this series: they've had extremely long gaps between releases, they have actually yanked titles the day of release (this happened with the DVD of "Boomerang"), and they do not update the website with new or future releases. "Brasher Doubloon" and "Cry of the City" should have been included already.
Almost all the reviewers of the Brasher Doubloon have complained that
George Montgomery was no Bogart or Powell. True. Would this film had
been better with either of them playing the iconic Philip Marlowe? Of
course. And while you're at it, it would have been better with Lauren
Bacall as the femme fatale and Peter Lorre as the villain, etc. etc.
Get over it, not every classic film can have a Hall of Fame cast. Many movies with 'B' stars were very entertaining -- and the Brasher Doubloon is a good example.
Watch the film with fresh eyes, pretend this is NOT Raymond Chandler's Marlowe and I think you'll enjoy it more. In this film, Marlowe is younger, handsomer and more suave. The script, which many also complained about, suits the persona of the debonair George Montgomery better than the more cynical lines given Bogart and Powell.
The main actors did a good job with their portrayals, the plot keeps you guessing with some good twists, the photography is great, the outdoor locations perfect.
In sum, this is NOT the Maltese Falcon or Murder, My Sweet which are 10+. But the Brasher Doubloon is a solid 7 and well worth watching on its own merits.
Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's trenchant private detective saw many
incarnations on the screen big and small. Chandler like S.S. Van Dine
the creator of Philo Vance sold his work to several studios and the
studio cast whomever. Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep for Warner
Brothers and Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet for RKO are the best known
interpreters of Marlowe. George Montgomery in The Brasher Doubloon gets
a short shrift from most film fans.
I don't think this is necessarily Montgomery's fault. The Brasher Doubloon was based on the Chandler story The High Window and unlike Warner Brothers and RKO this was meant to be a B film and was treated that way. I've never read the book, but I could tell a lot was left out in the treatment.
Montgomery is hired by the imperious Florence Bates to get back a valuable coin, The Brasher Doubloon which was the prize of her late husband's valuable coin collection. Upon arrival to her home, Montgomery is told in no uncertain terms that his services will not be needed by her son Conrad Janis. Janis plays this punk as well as Elisha Cook, Jr. ever did in this type of part.
Of course as he starts investigating bodies keep being strewn in his path and the police are blaming Montgomery for some if not all. The mother and son turn out to be some pieces of work.
The Brasher Doubloon has a good deal of its problems with the character Nancy Guild plays. She's Bates's secretary/companion who has issues and she really ought to be seeing a therapist rather than Philip Marlowe. Her character holds the key to the answers, but the character itself is ill defined in the script.
Maybe had The Brasher Doubloon gotten the A treatment it would be better received. As it is it's not a bad film, but not in the same league as the others mentioned.
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