The camera shows Phillip Marlowe's view from the first-person in this adaptation of Raymond Chandler's book. The detective is hired to find a publisher's wife, who is supposed to have run off to Mexico. But the case soon becomes much more complicated as people are murdered.Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
This film was completed in mid-1946 and trade shown in Los Angeles, and reviewed in Weekly Variety in November 1946, so, in this sense, it's a 1946 production. Since it was not released theatrically until January 1947, IMDb and AFI use that date after the title, in order to comply with their own book of rules. Rumored to have been intended as a December 1946 release, which would have coincided with the Christmas themed story background, MGM executives backed down at the last minute and delayed its release until January 1947 so as not to "offend" holiday season moviegoers, a high percentage of which included the so-called "family trade." For the same reason, they tacked on the "happy ending" sequence, over the strenuous objections of both Montgomery and Totter. See more »
In the scene where Adrienne is taking care of Marlowe after the car crash, she hands him a mirror so he can see his injuries. As he is putting the mirror down, you can clearly see the face of a stage hand in the mirror. See more »
The First Noel
Traditional Christmas song
Played during the opening credits See more »
Film noir with a unique twist
Out of the many Marlowe novel adaptations, this must be one of the closest to the spirit of the original. Unfortunately Chandler himself does not seem to have had the opportunity to contribute to the screenplay - although there are plenty of Chandleresque wisecracks. The film, unlike most of the other adaptions reflects the original author's full dislike of the cops (although the tough police chief having to answer a telephone call from his daughter during an interrogation is an unusual appeal for the viewer's understanding), and mistrust bordering on pathological hatred of women (I suspect that the ending is an uncharacteristic 'cop out' to assuage the producer's or popular taste). Director/star Robert Montgomery shows great self-restraint by appearing only briefly in the action. When he does show himself, mainly in mirror-reflections, the star appears (as in that other great latter day film noir, China Town) battered and bruised and not at all flattering. The plot is suitably twisted and confusing - just like the novels. And the concept of timing the whole dark affair against the backdrop of the Christmas holidays only emphasises the bleakness of the subject matter. Incidentally the idea of continuing the opening titles' jolly Christmas carol chorus in darker, more disturbing tones throughout the soundtrack is fascinating and I think unique. Audrey Totter (whatever happened to her?) makes a very sexy femme fatale. And as she plays most of her lines to camera we are seduced just as protagonist Marlowe. On top of that, her gowns are absolutely magnificent examples of forties chic. Lloyd Nolan deserves special mention as a superb heavy. What a wonderful example of Hollywood film noir.
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