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Best Raymond Chandler Adaption Ever


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For years this was unavailable on DVD, and apparently still is, but you can now stream it from Amazon, or thank the lucky stars, YouTube now has the full movie.  RT gives it a score of 84% -- way low in my estimation. Mitchum's voice-over, right off the page of Chandler's prose with all the irony and zany metaphor nabs the character of Marlowe to the nines, and Charlotte Rampling so perfectly channels the jazzy noir hauteur of Lauren Bacall you have to almost blink your eyes to be sure it's not her on the screen. What a fine, fine actress. I mean, that is acting.

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My favorite Chandler adaptation is the late 1940s radio show with Gerald Mohr (DL it for free here: http://archive.org/details/OTRR_Philip_Marlowe_Singles).

 

This series is probably the closest any medium ever came to the Marlowe of the novels. Even Raymond Chandler himself didn't completely hate it.

The highlights of the show -- in particular the early episodes -- are absolutely the opening and closing narrations. Some of them are classics. The great episode "Red Wind" opens with the famous description of L.A. nighttime taken directly from Chandlers story:

"There was a rough desert wind blowing into Los Angeles that evening. It was one of those hot, dry Santa Anna winds that comes down out of the mountain passes... On nights like that, every booze party ends in a fight, and meek little housewives finger the edge of a carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen when the Santa Anna blows in from the desert."

The plots are generally not so hot -- they invariably hinge on Marlowe spotting something which the audience can't see (obviously) and only explaining how he figured it out in the tag. But with only 30 minutes of show they clearly had to decide between Agatha Christie plotting and Chandler ambance. Fortunately they chose the latter.

The show is definitely a buried noir treasure. Maybe someday it will be rediscovered.

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For years this was unavailable on DVD, and apparently still is, but you can now stream it from Amazon, or thank the lucky stars, YouTube now has the full movie.  RT gives it a score of 84% -- way low in my estimation. Mitchum's voice-over, right off the page of Chandler's prose with all the irony and zany metaphor nabs the character of Marlowe to the nines, and Charlotte Rampling so perfectly channels the jazzy noir hauteur of Lauren Bacall you have to almost blink your eyes to be sure it's not her on the screen. What a fine, fine actress. I mean, that is acting.

 

The Big Sleep is my favorite Chandler written film,  but I do agree with everything you said about Farewell My Lovely.

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Agree Farewell My Lovely is the best Chandler adaptation, post code and pre PC, O"Halloran is the superior Malloy, thought I do like the "Pepper's Ghost" entrance of Malloy that is employed in Murder My Sweet , the Richards film is I believe more faithful to the book. It's followed very closely by Marlowe (Chandler's The Little Sister) updated to 1969 (I actually think Garner is the best interpretation of Philip Marlowe as imagined in the novels, Mitchum though great was a bit too old for the part still great though, then I'd go with Murder My Sweet and Dick Powell as the second best interpretation of Philip Marlowe. Montgomery in Lady In The Lake is third. Bogart in The Big Sleep seemed to be reprising Sam Spade not Philip Marlowe.

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I actually think Garner is the best interpretation of Philip Marlowe as imagined in the novels,

 

The first season of The Rockford Files is very close to the Chandler atmosphere. However I must admit I actually prefer Garner's patented Maverick-style humor that dominates the series from the second season onward.

 

Gerald Mohr on the aforementioned radio series occasionally prefigures Garner's Rockford, as in one episode where he chases the heavy up a fire escape, and then complains about the unaccustomed exertion.

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quote from a friend regarding Bogart's turn as Marlowe in The Big Sleep:

 

 

"I had the same problem with The Big Sleep. I know Philip Marlowe is supposed to be a damn good private eye, but nobody is that good. Normally, there are a couple of major twists along the way (perhaps close to the end) that the smart private eye will figure out late in the film, that helps him solve everything (eg. The Maltese Falcon). But in The Big Sleep, he is ten steps ahead of everyone all the time, having one of those "major discovery" or "I knew you were lying" moments every 30 seconds. My suspension of disbelief only goes so far."
 
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quote from a friend regarding Bogart's turn as Marlowe in The Big Sleep:

 

 

"I had the same problem with The Big Sleep. I know Philip Marlowe is supposed to be a damn good private eye, but nobody is that good. Normally, there are a couple of major twists along the way (perhaps close to the end) that the smart private eye will figure out late in the film, that helps him solve everything (eg. The Maltese Falcon). But in The Big Sleep, he is ten steps ahead of everyone all the time, having one of those "major discovery" or "I knew you were lying" moments every 30 seconds. My suspension of disbelief only goes so far."

 

 

Funny but near the end of the movie Marlowe says that Eddie Mars has been one step ahead of him the entire time.    

 

I do agree that the way the screenplay was written and the movie directed Marlowe is too good at everything;  e.g. how almost every gal he meets is interested in him.    The Big Sleep is a romantic,  funny,  but still gritty take (e.g. the killings) on a life of a private eye and his case.   These reasons are why I love the movie so much, but clearly the way Hawks did this film it wasn't meant to be a dark telling of events.

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The Bogart and Bacall version on The Big Sleep is a personal favorite of mine.  But I also think that

Murder,My Sweet is also excellent  with a break out performance by Dick Powell.   Although Lady in the Lake is not in the same level as the other Chandler adaptations, there is a brilliant scene where an injured Marlowe is dragging himself towards a phone booth. It is done through his perspective.

It adds a dramatic grittiness that the otherwise gimmicky but entertaining movie lacks. 

 

   I  think that Bogart's Sam Spade is darker and more corrupt than Bogart's Phillip Marlowe.  

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The Bogart and Bacall version on The Big Sleep is a personal favorite of mine.  But I also think that

Murder,My Sweet is also excellent  with a break out performance by Dick Powell.   Although Lady in the Lake is not in the same level as the other Chandler adaptations, there is a brilliant scene where an injured Marlowe is dragging himself towards a phone booth. It is done through his perspective.

It adds a dramatic grittiness that the otherwise gimmicky but entertaining movie lacks. 

 

   I  think that Bogart's Sam Spade is darker and more corrupt than Bogart's Phillip Marlowe.  

 

So I see you do come here when the topic is noir.     I'm glad.  I still go to CFU to read your great blogs but I'm not a fan of the revised format.       I feel the same way regarding the 3 movies you list above but I can understand why someone looking for version of The Big Sleep closer to the book would find the Hawks version too romantic.   But yea,  it was also a Bogie \ Bacall movie and not just a private eye flick.

 

Yea,  Sam Spade was darker and more corrupt,  but as he told the femme fatale some of that was an act!        

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Swell to see your replies to this thread, all of you.  Had a great time the other night watching some of those interviews with Mitchum on YouTube, one with Dick Cavett, and another with Michael Parkinson, also this one, "Studio Days" . . .

 

 

 

Not every actor has the talent Mitchum had for never being dull without a script. The combination of a dry, ironic sense of humor and that unflappable cool which was his, not to mention a vocabulary (and him without so much as a h.s. diploma) that kept him at the head of his class, for actors (or anybody) with class.

 

Watch how this dates me: first movie ever I saw Mitchum in, first run in the year of its release was The Lusty Men (1952) with Susan Hayward and Arthur Kennedy. It was one of the first motion pictures I'd ever seen. When my Grandpa saw it was a Western, he took a dime from his pocket to put in my hand, and sent me off with a gentle shove in the direction of the movie theater. He was a small town South Dakota M.D. who, had he his druthers, would've been a cowboy, instead. That's what my Grandma always told me.

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