Tuesday, May 1, 2012

173. Murder, My Sweet/Farewell My Lovely (1944)

Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Edward Dmytryk
Written By: John Paxton, from the novel Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Main Cast: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki
Click here to view the trailer

Boy, watching all these film noir movies for the next week sure isn’t going to do anything to help me kick the habit of smoking. However, I couldn’t have picked a better night for our journey through film noir to begin, as a rainstorm rumbles outside, soaking the streets and providing me with the perfect setting for a bit of noir.

Our first film noir tale is based on a Raymond Chandler novel and stars one of Chandler’s more notable characters, Philip Marlowe. This go around Marlow is played to near perfection by Dick Powell, someone who I clearly remember singing “Honeymoon Hotel” to Ruby Keeler in “Footlight Parade”. Well Powell traded in his dancing shoes for a trench coat and hat and in “Murder, My Sweet” pounds the pavement of his city, working as a private dick (no pun intended). Early in the film, Marlowe is visited by a brute of a man, whom we later learn is named Moose Malloy (Mazurki). Moose was recently released from the pen and wants to get back in touch with his old flame Velma Valento. Marlowe agrees to help, but before he can get too deep into the case, he’s visited by another client – a Mr. Lindsay Marriott. Mr. Marriott needs Marlowe’s assistance in a delicate matter that involves handing over some money in exchange for the return of a piece of jewelry. Marlowe doesn’t really get why Mr. Marriott can’t do the swap on his own, but for a cool $100, Marlowe tags along for the ride. Of course, we’re in the midst of a film noir here, so the handoff doesn’t go as planned and Marlowe ends up whacked over the head and knocked unconscious. However, he still ends up better than Mr. Marriott, who ends up dead. When Marlowe comes to his senses he finds himself in the hands of the police and as a prime suspect in the murder of Mr. Marriott. He’s released and since he’s a murder suspect, he has the motive he needs to find out why Mr. Marriott is no longer breathing. From there we get a fairly confusing story about a jade necklace, the introduction of “psychic consultant” Jules Amthor (Kruger) and let’s not forget the dames: Ann Grayle (Shirley) and Helen Grayle (Trevor).

To be completely honest with you, I wish we could’ve started out “Seven Shadows Week” with a little more ‘oomph’ than what “Murder, My Sweet” brought to the table. Sure it had the atmosphere down pat: a smart-mouthed dick, with dames hanging off his shoulder and danger around every street corner. Shadows bouncing off the actors’ faces and more cigarettes & guns than you can imagine. If I was just paying for the atmosphere, then I certainly got my money’s worth and then some. And hell, if you’re the type who doesn’t care much for the stories and simply wants to jump into the criminal underbelly of the big city, with the trench coat donning tough guys, then this films right up your alley. But me, I like a little more plot with my noir and “Murder, My Sweet” failed me in that respect. You see, I had a feeling that this one was going to take some wild twist & turns (like most noir’s tend to do), but by the time we got to the end, I didn’t know who stole the jade necklace, if anybody, why so and so killed Marriott (I’m trying my best to make this spoiler free – can you tell?) and what Mr. Grayle’s part in the whole mess was. 

Sure you can argue that it’s not really about the plot, it’s about the style and the atmosphere. Or you could say that I simply failed to pay attention and that if I had only watched more intently everything was as clear as a bell. Well I’d fight you on that last one, because by the end of this thing, the plot was in such knots even the most gifted of boy scouts couldn’t have untied the mess. I’m not saying that “Murder, My Sweet” was bad. In fact, I was able to buy it for its noir-ish qualities alone. All I’m saying is that had it had a little more strength in the plot department and had they made it a little simpler to follow, I would’ve enjoyed it a whole lot more. I did, however, also thoroughly enjoy Dick Powell, as I wondered, prior to watching this, how he would fair in the big, bad world of film noir. He did an outstanding job, transforming himself from a song bird into a hard-nosed P.I.

RATING: 6.5/10  Not bad, by any means, but certainly not the bang that I wanted to make with the first installment of “Seven Shadows Week”. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. Next up: “Mildred Pierce”. 


NOTE: Please don't forget to head on over to Shadows & Satin today and read Karen's take on "Murder, My Sweet". As she says, you only owe it to yourself. And if you're on Twitter, don't forget to follow us both; @adduvall1984, @TheDarkPages, for multiple chances to win a free book on film noir.

March 31, 2012  2:13am
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2012  12:00pm


  1. was kinda hoping for a discussion between you and Karen, not just 2 reviews

    Not Ray

  2. That would have been nice, but unfortunately Karen and I both have full time jobs and we had to do what we could do, when we had to time to do it. I hope you'll enjoy what we present anyway.


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