Farewell My Lovely (1975)

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Best Post Code/Pre PC, Neo Noir, Chandler Interpretation by a long shot


Farewell My Lovely (1975) Directed by Dick Richard, with Noir Icons Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe, and John Ireland as Det. Lt., Nulty, with a supporting cast that includes Charlotte Rampling as Helen Grayle, Sylvia Miles very impressive as alcoholic floozy Jessie Halstead Florian, Anthony Zerbe as sleazy Laird Brunette, another great performance by Harry Dean Stanton as crooked on the take Det. Billy Rolfe, Jack O'Halloran in his film debut with an adequate interpretation of Moose Malloy, Joe Spinell as Nick, and a very young Sylvester Stallone as whorehouse punk, Jonnie. Novelist, Jim Thomson puts in an appearance as Judge Grayle.


Story line "man mountain", not too bright Moose Malloy, is out of prison after seven years for a robbery rap, he's looking for his former squeeze Velma Velento former chanteuse and dancer at Florians, he hires Marlowe to find her.


I really, really, enjoyed this version of "Farewell My Lovely", and I'd have to say it equals "Murder My Sweet" not point for point but for different reasons, "Murder My Sweet" has an unforgettably well done first meet between Marlowe (Dick Powell) and Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki) and while on Mike, for me he is still the Malloy to beat, he is the actor that has the cachet, the cinematic memory, he is what I most remember about that version of the Chandler Story, him and the Noir cinematography. I'll have to watch it again, but I have a feeling that it will be tough to beat the outstanding cast of the 1975 film.


That said "Farewell My Lovely" has four unforgettable Marlowe & Molloy go to Florian's sequence, the two Marlowe and Jessie Florian sequences, the Marlowe meets Femme Fatale Helen Grayle (Charlotte Rampling) sequence (and Rampling BTY has some beautiful green eyes, you know I don't even recall Claire Trevor's performance in "Murder My Sweet"), and the Nulty gets religion in the police car sequence, then add in all the Marlowe/Nulty vignettes, this film is one not too miss. Sets and interiors suitably seedy and not hampered by the Hays Code and the script is Pre PC so there is no pulling punches in the various lines and situations, bravo.


The cinematography of the interiors was excellent, everything depicted had aura of decay, one minor quibble, it could have probably alluded just a bit more to classic noir films than it did, there were a number of sequences shot against a backdrop of brightly lit windows (Marlowe's office and Jessie Florian's parlor come to mind) that had venetian blinds but the blinds were either closed or pulled up so we get none of the staple barred shadows, a shame, it would have been a nice bonus.


What I remember most vividly from the novel is the character Jessie Florian and description of the dump she lives in, and Chandler is in top form here. And out of all that detail rendered, what sticks in my memory most is Chandlers description of the fingerprint encrusted glasses Jessie comes back with to drink the booze out of. The film doesn't quite go to that depth but its close, and it probably paints Jessie just a tab bit more comely and sympathetically than the novel does.


Mitchum is Mitchum, like John Wayne when you reach iconic status its hard to separate character from personality, but you can overlook it here. I'll almost have to re-read the novel (I'd bet its been 20 years since I did) to give a definitive answer on who's is the best Marlowe Mitchum, Montgomery, Powell, Garner. Regardless the Mitchum/Ireland scenes are a visual treat and direct link to Classic Noir.


Soundtrack is great and for a Chandler adaptation this one placed in the correct time period is probably the best one in that respect. 9/10 mainly for Jack O'Halloran, now if they had cast Richard Kiel, William Smith, or as titoli mentioned Dan Blocker as Moose it could have upped the cachet a notch.

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I saw this film only once, so long age I'm not really qualified to comment on it, I've forgotten so much. What I remember is:

thinking Mitch was too old for the part, and what a shame it was, since he was so perfect for noir roles in his earlier days.

Really enjoying the Moose Malloy character, the actor who played him gives a fuller performance than whoever played him in the earlier version

Charlotte Rampling was a mega-babe. "Cute as lace pants".

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Really enjoyed this version. Yes, Mitchum was a little long in the tooth, but he bought a world weary look to Marlowe and it worked for the most part. All the supporting players were top notch, The fact they didn't up date it like they did with Mitchum's "The Big Sleep" a few years later and it was, a big sleep, that is really made it work.. But with everything I said about the newer version, I still prefer the Dick Powell version....

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Yea, he was a bit too old for the part, that is probably why they addressed/emphasized it the opening first person narration.


But if you are going to attempt to remake Noir classic films and not update them, I would definitely say that this is the standard to shoot for.

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The 1975 version is one of my favourites.

Just last month I had Harry Dean Stanton sign a still from that one.  I loved his character.


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