Grizzled American private detective in England investigates a complicated case of blackmail turned murder involving a rich but honest elderly general, his two loose socialite daughters, a pornographer and a gangster.
In 1935, after forty years in a West Virginia prison, three released convicts wish to open a legitimate business using the twenty-five thousand dollars earned in jail, but a crooked prison guard in cahoots with the town banker plans to defraud them.
An old man (Jimmy Stewart) has settled in Kenya, in a remote cabin, with his adult granddaughter and several of her "animal friends". They live an idyllic life amongst the wildlife, unseen ... See full synopsis »
Philip Marlowe is asked by the elderly (and near death) General Sternwood to investigate an attempt at blackmail on one of his daughters. He soon finds that the attempt is halfhearted at best and seems to be more connected with the disappearance of the other daughter's husband, Rusty Regan. Rusty's wife, seems unconcerned with his disappearance, further complicating the mystery. Only General Sternwood seems concerned as mobsters and hired killers continue to appear in the path of the investigation.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After both having worked in the movie business for many years, this film was the only time that veteran actors James Stewart and Robert Mitchum ever worked together. See more »
Marlowe retrieved a 6-shot revolved from his car. When he attracted the attention of Lash Canino, he fired 2 shots into the window. But when he emerged from the burning car's smoke, he fired 6 more. Too many. See more »
[of Mrs. Regan]
She'd make a jazzy weekend, but she'd be a bit wearing for a steady diet.
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As a literary adaptation, it is superior to the Bogart version
You may regard the 1946 version as a classic because of the Bogart-Bacall pairing. As a literary adaptation, this version, however, is much better.
First of all, the plot stays true to the novel, whereas the older version had a plot ruined by the restrictions of the Hayes code, so that it contains numerous loose ends and unexplained developments.
Secondly, Robert Mitchum impersonates Marlowe much better that Humphrey Bogart. Bogart essentially recycles his role of Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon". Yet, Spade and Marlowe are very different characters. While Spade is a cynic who just barely remembers the remnants of morality (and Bogart is brilliant in that role), Marlowe is way beyond that point. He walks around people in a distanced, almost detached way. Only when he spots a glimpse of humanity in his fellow men, he is willing to engage himself (as with General Sternwood in "The Big Sleep"). Mitchum plays this character with great understatement, as it should be done, while Bogart makes Marlowe just another hard-boiled detective, which could be replaced by any other one.
Finally, both Sarah Miles and Candy Clark (while not being necessarily great actresses) bring over the lunacy of the Sternwood daughters beautifully. While the scenes between Bacall and Bogart a great, they are out of place in this plot, in which there is no place left for romance. It might have been appropriate for the characters of Marlowe and Linda Loring in "The Long Goodbye", but hardly in a movie adaption of a novel, in which Marlowe remarks "both Sternwood women were giving him hell".
So, while this movie transfers the plot to another time and another place, it is a much better adaption of the novel than the version often regarded as a classic.
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