Los Angeles private investigator Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter. Moseby tracks the daughter down, only to stumble upon something much more intriguing and sinister .
In the middle of the night, private eye Philip Marlowe drives his friend Terry Lennox to the Mexican border. When Marlowe returns home police are waiting for him and learns that Terry's wife Sylvia has been killed. He's arrested as an accessory but released after a few days and is told the case is closed since Terry Lennox has seemingly committed suicide in Mexico. Marlowe is visited by mobster Marty Augustine who wants to know what happened to the $350,000 Lennox was supposed to deliver for him. Meanwhile, Marlowe is hired by Eileen Wade to find her husband Roger who has a habit of disappearing when he wants to dry out but she can't find him in any any of his usual haunts. He finds him at Dr. Veringer's clinic and brings him. It soon becomes obvious to Marlowe that Terry's death, the Wades and Augustine are all somehow interconnected. Figuring out just what those connections are however will be anything but easy.Written by
I really don't understand why this film gets such high ratings. It doesn't work either as an adaptation of a Chandler novel or on its own merits.
I'm a big Chandler fan. I understand that adapting a book to film means making concessions, but I don't think there is a single line of dialogue from the book in this film. If you like Chandler then you know it's his dialog that makes him such an outstanding writer and more than just a pulp-fiction hack.
I can also understand changing the plot, but this movie removes so much of the original and changes not only the storyline, but the characters and motivations that it becomes incoherent. I mean why make Mexican gangsters in the book into Jewish ones in the film? It takes away from the reasoning of Lennox's flight to Mexico. There is never any real understanding of why or how Lennox and Marlowe met or became friends. There are a whole group of characters left out which gave meaning to story. Without any understanding of the characters, the plot doesn't make sense, and the changes take away from the understanding and make the motivations weak.
Although the story was "updated" to the 1970's, the look and feel is more of an early 1960's film. It wasn't avant-garde, but already outdated when it came out.
Some people like the soundtrack, but I find the one song, in it's numerous variations very insipid. Hearing each version over and over again only point out how awful a song it is. It comes off as a cheap trick.
So even on its own terms this movie is very weak and frustrating and as Chandler film it will make aficionados cringe.
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