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Daily Dose of Darkness #6: Business is Getting Better (Scene from Murder, My Sweet)

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I'm a huge fan of old radio programs, and a new fan to film noir.  How would what I hear on the radio programs dovetail with the movies we're watching, or are these two completely different mindsets? 

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You mention Marlowe and Spade. Both existed in various mediums. The stories of Chandler and Hammett, films like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon, and the radio shows.

 

Obviously film noir is a visual medium but elements might be present in "the theater of the mind", old time radio. Think about the use of music and sound in the films and compare that to the OTR shows.

 

There are a lot of Marlowe films that TCM will be airing.

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I'm not an expert, but I have a small number of the Sam Spade radio episodes on mp3 at home.  (Howard Duff (husband of Ida Lupino!) played Sam Spade.)  I would say that the radio episodes are not quite as dark as the movie renditions of Hammett's work or the written stories themselves.  Perhaps it was the censorship of the late 40's and 50's, but the episodes tend to end "happily" with the culprit identified and held to account and the mystery solved.  On the other hand, the dialogue absolutely crackles at times and captures well the dry and sardonic wit of the typical Hammett shamus.  All that said, the radio episodes are highly entertaining on their own terms and well worth a listen.  May I recommend Radio Classics, channel 82 on XM Radio?  You may also be interested in radio shows like Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.  Excellent radio!

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This is the official topic for Daily Dose #6, which will be delivered Tuesday morning, June 9. Please use this topic thread for all posts on Daily Dose #6 and avoid, if at all possible, opening new topic threads on the Daily Doses. Thanks, and enjoy! Let the discussion begin. 

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I was never convinced by Dick Powell as Marlowe, he was altogether too small to fit the image I had in my mind of that man who worked the mean streets. I haven't seen the film in a while though, so I look forward to seeing it with new eyes, see if he can change my mind at all.  

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We'll never get anywhere by answering questions with questions. I want my questions answered first. Lol that dialog was my hook for watching Murder, My Sweet. Dick Powell ain't to shabby either. I see a crime thriller or a detective drama set in the 40s and I box those films in noir. After this course, I hope to do better. I'm seeing a film noir genre here... not a style or movement. 

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I know it's wrong to make comparisons but while watching Powell as Marlowe I keep picturing Bogart in this role wondering if I'd like it better but in the end Dick Powell grew on me. I think he brings more humor and a smiling face than Bogart's smirk...which has its place.

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I was never convinced by Dick Powell as Marlowe, he was altogether too small to fit the image I had in my mind of that man who worked the mean streets. I haven't seen the film in a while though, so I look forward to seeing it with new eyes, see if he can change my mind at all.  

I never bought Dick Powell as much of a tough guy either.  Probably because of his "baby" face.  I think this is the movie that changed his image.  Bogart wasn't "big" either but he always seemed tough.  Face like a dirt road. :)

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With the Noir detective you wonder sometimes which side of the law they are on and sometimes how much they might want to bend the law to their advantage. They seem to live in the gray areas between law and lawlessness.

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Before seeing "Murder, My Sweet", I had low expectations for Dick Powell's portrayal as Marlowe. Because of Bogart I am sure.  I think he does an excellent job as the character and I count the film as one of my favorites.  His behavior of locking the door, which is basically holding Grayle hostage, and dumping her purse on his desk could be interpreted as bad behavior.  But we also realize in the scene that Marlowe has ethics.  He was paid to do a job and he didn't do it so he now has an obligation to see it through.

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Dick Powell's character Phillip Marlowe seems to have his own agenda and way of doing things. In this scene he starts out sweet and gently touches Ann's hands. Then he grabs them roughly and dumps out her purse to find out who she really is. He is more intense now.

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Funny, this is a semi sequel to Falcon but I am use to Dick Powell as Richard Diamond on the radio. I listen to a lot of old radio shows. I am interested how this film will pan out...

 

I am almost finished viewing last weeks films! 

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Powell's Marlowe wants answers and is completely focused on 'his' case. He obviously takes his work quite personally. While he definitely weaves in and out of the lines, and over a few, he is focused on answers.

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Never having been a fan of Dick Powell, I had a hard time with this movie. I did like the old time office doors with the glass and the name of Phillip Marlowe on it. This gave it a 1940's type of feel.

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-- Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective?

 

In other private detective stories I have read, the private detective relies solely on his powers of observation and deduction to solve crimes and rarely, if ever, commits criminal acts. In the case of Philip Marlowe, I suspect his interaction with Ann Grayle broke a few laws, including false imprisonment  and unlawful search. Also, his manner of speech seems more direct and threatening than that used by other private eyes.

 

-- Why do you think this kind of private detective fits so well within the film noir context?

 

For me, film noir must include conflict - a feeling that the protagonist is living in a world where the forces are arrayed against him/her. A private detective such as Philip Marlowe, who has to fight everyone, including the bad guys, the police, and even his clients, is a perfect fit for the film noir world view. Can you picture Sherlock Holmes ever acting like Philip Marlowe (or vice versa)?

 

- Tom Shawcross

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We'll never get anywhere by answering questions with questions. I want my questions answered first. Lol that dialog was my hook for watching Murder, My Sweet. Dick Powell ain't to shabby either. I see a crime thriller or a detective drama set in the 40s and I box those films in noir. After this course, I hope to do better. I'm seeing a film noir genre here... not a style or movement. 

Nobody ever started out making a Film Noir. It was defined after the fact. With a Western say, you can tick off the various ingredients needed, horses-check, cowboy hats- check, guns-check, Indians-check, cavalry-check. Films Noir are all over the place, in terms of varying degrees of basic elements in widely varying storylines.

 

You could though say that the Detective film is a quasi genre that existed before Noir.

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It's been a while since I've seen this one, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again.  I'd forgotten how Powell shifts his behavior in so many ways - that charming/rough shift is so well done here.  And the "small businessman in a very messy business" completely typifies the private detective in noir.

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A pretty face does not sway a man on a mission. He sees right through the fake glasses and acts accordingly, locking the door and demanding answers. Real cops of the day may have been as unfeeling but they would not have played along as Marlowe does until the right moment to confront her true identity. I noticed his office was more spacious than some and neater. This shows his meticulous attention to detail. Great clip.

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This all goes back to the Hard Boiled Detective novel & short stories of the 30's which were finally making their way to the screen in the 40's. To paraphrase something Dashielle Hammett said, previous detective fiction involved a murder with a detective following various clues to solve it. The Hard Boiled detective took a case and shook it up to see what fell out, it rarely was about what he was originally employed for.

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Philip Marlowe; what a classic!  While private eyes are often "I am the one asking the questions", Marlowe asks the questions but he is also open to taking and answering questions posed to him.  He is in control, but not totally in control.  I see glimpses of vulnerability peeking though as the scene unfolds.  Passion and compassion.  The scene ends and we want more.  I love it!

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