Harold, a prosperous English gangster, is about to close a lucrative new deal when bombs start showing up in very inconvenient places. A mysterious syndicate is trying to muscle in on his ... See full summary »
Chain-smoking, wisecracking private eye Philip Marlowe drives a buddy from LA to the Tijuana border and returns home to an apartment full of cops who arrest him for abetting the murder of his friend's wife. After Marlowe's release, following the reported suicide in Mexico of his friend, a beautiful woman hires him to locate her alcoholic and mercurial husband. Then, a hoodlum and his muscle visit to tell Marlowe that he owes $350,000, mob money the dead friend took to Mexico. Marlowe tails the hood, who goes to the house of the woman with the temperamental husband. As Marlowe pulls these threads together, his values emerge from beneath the cavalier wisecracking. Written by
A toothpick suddenly disappears from Morgan's (Warren Berlinger) mouth while he is driving Marlowe home from jail. See more »
Oh. Hi, Mr. Lennox. Say, you're up kinda late.
Come on, lay it on me.
Okay. Let's see, I didn't - Barbara Stanwyck, I've been working on Barbara Stanwyck.
[as Barbara Stanwyck]
'I don't understand. I don't understand it at all. I've never understood it, Walter. I just don't understand why I don't understand it all. I don't...
Okay, just remember that and you'll be alright.
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I can say, without feeling too stupid, that is my favourite film of all time.
It has it all, firstly an incredibly brave screenplay that brought Raymond Chandler forward a generation after Bogart's best attempts to turn the great author into an insomnia remedy.
The casting of Elliot Gould as Marlowe is a stroke of genius - this Marlowe is undoubtedly very cool, but his 'coolness' comes from his idiosyncrasies, nerdy quirks and inability to fit into defined social circles. Sterling Hayden's performance, for me out-does his work on Dr Strangelove and can be added to Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy and Brando in The Godfather as one of the finest examples of character acting you will ever come across. His 'Hemingwayesque' alcoholic rages are violent, visceral and disturbing and yet he contains a brittle fragility that draws you to his performance.
The shining light though is Altman. Not only did he get the best career performances out of his finely assembled ensemble (did Gould, Hayden or Van Pallant ever do better?), but also produced one of the best shot films of all time. Only bettered in this era by Coppola's The Conversation (not a bad film to come second to).
On top of all this is an overwhelming sense of the auteur, the soundtrack, camera work and acting performances all combine to create a synthesis of near perfect cinema.
Turn your computer off, run out of the house and rent/steal or buy this film. Watch it, you won't be disappointed.
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