Poodle Springs (1998)

TV Movie  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  25 July 1998 (USA)
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An aging Phillip Marlowe gets mixed up with blackmail & murder among elite social set in 1963.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Laura Parker-Marlowe
Larry Victor / Charles Nichols
Lt. Arnie Burns
Miriam 'Muffy' Blackstone-Nichols
Clayton Blackstone
Sam Vlahos ...
Eddie Garcia
Manny Lipshultz
David Byrd ...
P.J. Parker
Ivan, the Motel Manager
Billy Beck ...
Old Man in Jail
L.A. Captain


Set in 1963, an aging Philip Marlowe (James Caan) is supposedly giving up his wild times to get married to a younger socialite (Dina Meyer). However, as might be expected crime follows Marlowe as he is soon mixed up in blackmail and murders as a sleazy photographer (David Keith) threatens to expose photos of a former stripper (La Joy Farr) who is now running with a billionaire. As things progress, he soon realizes that his new wife's father (Joe Don Baker) is also involved. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sex. Murder. Marlowe. This town has everything.


Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

25 July 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Crime no Nevada  »

Filming Locations:

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Raymond Chandler's working title for the "Poodle Springs" novel was "The Poodle Springs Story". See more »


The movie is set in 1963. When James Caan is thrown in jail, early on in the movie, the other inmates are singing "The Times They Are a-Changin". He may have sung it on Oct 26th at Carnegie Hall but it wasn't issued until the album, of which it was title track, came out in January, 1964. See more »


References From Russia with Love (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

James Caan gets drawn into a byzantine case involving several murders and big money deals
29 March 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Poodle Springs" is quite an enjoyable cinematic rendering of an older Philip Marlowe (James Caan). He's set up and thus becomes tangled in a typically complex Chandleresque case. This could possibly doom his quick Mexican marriage to a real dish, Dina Meyer, who also has dough, her father (Joe Don baker) being a big land baron in more ways than one. She wants her husband to cool the detective work and settle down in Poodle Springs to a life of comfort and ease. He has other ideas.

It's sort of Chinatown-lite on a TV-movie scale. Caan is a convincing actor with more than his share of electricity, as in "Rollerball", "The Thief", "The Killer Elite" and "Hide in Plain Sight". In this later effort, he's not going to give up his ethics for anything. Determined he is to get to the bottom of things no matter what. Caan plays Marlowe as the script necessitates, a staunch and smart man, who knows who he is and knows his limitations. He won't be pushed around. He's unimpressed by the rich and famous. It's a straight-ahead performance, showing an old hand at the work, somewhat tired and cynical, having been around the track more than a few times. This is not as easy to carry off as Caan makes it seem.

This is the kind of story where some of the mystery is resolved well before the end, but that leaves further mysteries to be revealed. I like that. There's one sequence that involves an addict-hooker played by Nia Peeples. She's terrific. She's so realistic that only afterward did I remember she's an actress. David Keith does a turn and carries it off well. Dina Meyer can act, but I think her diction could be better. I don't think the sound track can be blamed in this case for mumbled words.

There's a fair amount of atmosphere, mainly through cars and clothes. They really didn't lay the locations on heavy. They didn't lay on Chandler's lines and phrases either. No laconic narration in this one. It's a straight-ahead kind of complex story. Not really a heavy neo-noir feeling either, even though there's plenty of hanky-panky going on. It's more that there are physical threats or the feeling that danger keeps lurking everywhere that pepper the story. That makes for a pretty good amount of engagement and tension. We know that Marlowe can handle himself, but the story is quite good in giving us some fresh ways he does that.

As the story matures, there are echoes of the Sternwood's family issues and of Chinatown. The familiarity doesn't spoil the fun. We can listen to more than one chorus of the blues or of Raymond Chandler, even in this distant and attenuated form in which someone else finished Chandler's uncompleted story (from 1959) and movie makers in a different era of the late 90s decided to place the story in 1963. The early frames show us an early date in November 1963. The final frames show November 22, 1963. There is an allusion to that deadly day linking to this fictional story.

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