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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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