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Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 22 February 1945 (USA)
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After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit.

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Writers:

John Paxton (screenplay), Raymond Chandler (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dick Powell ... Philip Marlowe
Claire Trevor ... Helen Grayle / Velma Valento
Anne Shirley ... Ann Grayle
Otto Kruger ... Jules Amthor
Mike Mazurki ... Joe 'Moose' Malloy
Miles Mander ... Leuwen Grayle
Douglas Walton ... Lindsay Marriott
Donald Douglas ... Police Lieutenant Randall (as Don Douglas)
Ralf Harolde ... Dr. Sonderborg
Esther Howard ... Jessie Florian
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Storyline

This adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel 'Farewell, My Lovely', renamed for the American market to prevent audiences mistaking it for a musical (for which Powell was already famous) has private eye Philip Marlowe hired by Moose Malloy, a petty crook just out of prison after a eight year stretch, to look for his former girlfriend, Velma, who has not been seen for the last six years. The case is tougher than Marlowe expected as his initially promising inquiries lead to a complex web of deceit involving bribery, perjury and theft, and where no one's motivation is obvious, least of all Marlowe's. Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Forget that feeling...she's got murder in her heart! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 February 1945 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Farewell, My Lovely See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 1946 Saturday Evening Post article, Dick Powell wrote that the film ended his ten-year effort to escape musicals. Powell said that when he asked Charles Koerner for a "solid tough guy" character to portray, Koerner offered him the role of Philip Marlowe. See more »

Goofs

When Marlowe is inside the interrogation room, the room number on the door is shown to be 404. When he is escorted out of the room and toward the elevator, the room number is shown as 402. See more »

Quotes

Philip Marlowe: He died in 1940, in the middle of a glass of beer. His wife Jessie finished it for him.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Exists in color-computerized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Diamond's Edge (1988) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Screen's Best Marlowe
22 July 2004 | by Arriflex1See all my reviews

"I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in; it had no bottom."- Phillip Marlowe in MURDER, MY SWEET.

There are plenty of bottomless pools in MURDER, MY SWEET, Edward Dmytryk's outstanding noir. Tapping into a direct line to the dark places of the human psyche, the film raises the curtain on one shadowy scene after another. It leads the viewer on a convoluted trip through a very gloomy and treacherous labyrinth where oily con men, pesky cops, scheming ladies, and at least one gargantuan lovesick Romeo put the down-at-heels private investigator through the wringer.

Moose Malloy's vanished girlfriend (and a tidy retainer) occupies Marlowe at first. Then, when an expensive jade necklace needs retrieving (with another fat fee offered), Marlowe bites again. But suddenly those too deep pools begin to appear.

John Paxton's screenplay has the cast of characters thinking out loud a lot, which helps occasionally. But just as in Raymond Chandler's other overly schematic crime story, THE BIG SLEEP, strict attention must be paid. Yet even if you become confused, you can still revel in Harry J. Wilde's sterling cinematography. (As mentioned in another review, Wilde, along with a slew of other people, including Orson Welles, shot additional scenes for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS for which he and the others received no credit. As Welles himself intones rather solemnly at that film's conclusion: "Stanley Cortez was the photographer").

The really big draw in MURDER is Dick Powell, not just delivering a career-changing performance (and being the first actor to play Marlowe) but also giving the best interpretation of Marlowe on film- and that includes Bogart's fine outing in Hawks' THE BIG SLEEP(1946), Robert Mitchum's two disappointing films, and Elliot Gould's daring 1973 performance in Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE. Powell projects the detective's weary cynicism and dogged determination without any hint of showy mannerism or overplayed toughness. His presence is completely natural and convincing, far from any Hollywood ham acting.

In addition, MURDER, MY SWEET presents the polished villainy of Otto Kruger, slithering around Powell with his characteristic reptilian menace; Anne Shirley as a spunky good girl who brightens the gloom somewhat; and, on the femme fatale side, the high voltage glare of Claire Trevor, laminated in heavy make-up like a pricey, megawatt doxy. Literally towering over everything is Mike Mazurki's Moose (far more effective than Jack O'Halloran's catatonic trance in Mitchum's FAREWELL, MY LOVELY). Mazurki's silent entrance into Marlowe's office at the beginning sets the uneasy mood where huge, powerful forces stir and then emerge from the darkness.


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