I just finished watching Murder, My Sweet with Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe. I must say it was a complete turnaround from the last Marlowe film I saw, Robert Mitchum’s The Big Sleep.
I’m not that familiar with Dick Powell’s work, but he seemed perfect as the world weary, cynical Marlowe. Other sources say this film turned his career around, shedding his nice guys only image. Not that Marlowe was a bad guy. Just the tough character I suppose they figured Powell couldn’t bring off.
This movie had the right look, set in the forties where Marlowe belongs. Some of the recent films I’ve reviewed didn’t get it right. Elliot Gould’s The Long Goodbye looked to modern and Gould was not Philip Marlowe. The only thing that saved that film was Leigh Brackett’s script. James Garner’s Marlowe had him interacting with hippies(shudder).
The film noir genre seems to work better in black and white. Of course this is no revelation as more learned people than myself have noted that.
All in all, Murder, My Sweet is a very good adaptation. They got it right. Marlowe is the tough, wisecracking PI that has been the pattern for practically every PI novel since Raymond Chandler wrote his novels. A small group, but not a dog in the bunch. The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and The Little Sister are my favorites though. It’s been a few years, so maybe it’s time to reread them.
Next up for me is Powers Boothe’s Marlowe HBO series. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes and look forward to the set. Boothe has been a favorite actor ever since I saw him in Southern Comfort with Keith Carradine.