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


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He is immediately suspicious. It looks to me like its the glasses that tip Powell off first that the girl is not what she claims. Maybe they are fake. Then the nails. If she typed they'd be a mess. Sherlock Holmes of the street using deduction and intimidation. He's physical with her, trying to exert power over her, scare her into spilling her guts.

He is witty but forceful in his delivery, like a smart kid from a tough neighborhood. This scene is played many times in many ways in noir. Femme fatale, pretty girl who comes into the office lying to draw the detective in while he seems to sense the danger but is sucked in to the mystery anyway. Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep, Chandler and Hammet are especially fond of the scene. Classic. Chinatown, Two Jakes, the Cheap Detective, High Anxiety are all examples of films containing versions of the same scene as homage.

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He is immediately suspicious. It looks to me like its the glasses that tip Powell off first that the girl is not what she claims. Maybe they are fake. Then the nails. If she typed they'd be a mess. Sherlock Holmes of the street using deduction and intimidation. He's physical with her, trying to exert power over her, scare her into spilling her guts.

He is witty but forceful in his delivery, like a smart kid from a tough neighborhood. This scene is played many times in many ways in noir. Femme fatale, pretty girl who comes into the office lying to draw the detective in while he seems to sense the danger but is sucked in to the mystery anyway. Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep, Chandler and Hammet are especially fond of the scene. Classic. Chinatown, Two Jakes, the Cheap Detective, High Anxiety are all examples of films containing versions of the same scene as homage.

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Murder My Sweeet-one of the great Marlowes.  Although I agree with Effie P below that Dick Powell never really did it for me physically as a Philip Marlowe character, he can certainly act the part.  I read the assertion this morning taken from the Frank paper that Marlowe represents a new/different kind of detective and he becomes the major player in the drama.  Agreed, however he is the major player in the written series and so it is correct to put him in that same format on film. 

 

I made some observations that I think are significant.  PI's are indeed considered being on the "fringes" of law, perhaps that has been instilled in our subconscious by the official police force who want to maintain their own public perception that they are the good guys and PI's are basically mercenaries out for their own gain....who can tell.....

 

However, we have a movie made in the post war era where American men were considered men of honor and heroes.  I do believe this was one of the reasons that movies began to change. America was changing and they wanted to see "heroes" depicted even in the case of guys like Marlowe who were once considered on the fringes of society.  Was he portrayed as a war veteran?  I can't remember, however it would fit quite nicely with this whole idea.  Could Marlowe and other detectives like him be the precursor to our modern superheroes?????  Something to consider.

 

This is the first thing that struck me about this particular scene. I have seen it before as I have watched this movie on several occasions and noticed right away that Marlowe is quite determined to retain his "honor" by ensuring that his promises to his client are fulfilled.  The beautiful woman in this case is not going to get in the way of that. I like that ethical element, it appeals to me and was the point that made Powell a palatable Marlowe for me.  There is no doubt that he is interested in her, as she is sharp, beautiful and just his kind of edgy, but it is business first with Marlowe and this lady is not going to be treated with "kid gloves" because she is beautiful.

 

What do I see in Marlow that make him the new kind of detective......first as I mentioned above, that level of integrity, (we saw a very unsavory and underhanded detective figure in Born to Kill.....that movie was truly full of serious low lifes).  Also we see that Marlowe is a hard boiled guy alright, but he has a heart.  He is tough, ethical and consequently quite sexy.  I believe women, like men (I do emphasize here, men and women who are sexual adults) are drawn to men whom they can't "conquer" easily by their looks, or neediness, etc....I certainly am.

 

In the scene we viewed we see him quietly lock the door behind the very attractive female, but his intentions are not sexual at all.  He picks up on her act in about 10 seconds and ensures that when he outs her facade, she will not be able to run away.  He acts as if her beauty and charm has indeed drawn him in (we saw this same action in Maltese Falcon from Bogie who plays Sam Spade)....  He walks around her sizing her up and she thinks she has the upper hand until he grabs her bag, dumps it unceremoniously onto his desk and finds her actual name all in about 30 seconds.  She is knocked backward emotionally and quickly gives up the information he wants.

 

This particular behavior is the "unusual" that I see in this scene.  He is an excellent reader of character and the fact that she is a woman doesn't phase him one bit as far as finding out what he wants to know.  Marlowe's character in this scene fits the noir genre very well, because (in my opinion and observation) film noir has moved us out of the rough and tumble world of open and in-your-face crime with uncivilized street thugs etc.  We see a sophisticated "style" associated with the investigation of this crime.  Subtlety is screaming at us through the entire movie, the sexiness I associated with this character also seems to run thoughout the noir genre and not only with Marlowe's character.  The great film Laura is another study in this new style of detective behavior.  

 

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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

Marlowe's self-assessment:  "I am just a small businessman in a very messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale," capture his essence as someone on the fringes of the law, who struggles to maintain his personal integrity ("follow through on a sale") even as he breaks a few laws here and there (false imprisonment and unlawful search).

 

Marlowe is neither good nor evil, but inhabits a sort of no-man's land on the boundary between the two.  I think the best film noir takes us to the boundary between good and evil.   We recognize ourselves in Marlowe:  never fully right, never completely wrong.

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I'm a very small business man in very messy business" That's a great line to sums up a film noir detective. Dick Powell \ Philip Marlowe was more cynical and much rougher in both word and deed than detectives of the past. I can't see Ellery Queen grabbing a woman's purse and dumping it out.

 

I liked Dick Powell in the role of Philip Marlowe. He seemed to bring in the playfulness of his earlier musical comedies and then put a hard edge to it. To me it kind of gave the feeling of a nice guy that had been knocked around too much and now has hardened himself to the world ( but he can't help himself he still a nice guy at heart). Perfect back story for film noir

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Marlowe's self-assessment: "I am just a small businessman in a very messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale," capture his essence as someone on the fringes of the law, who struggles to maintain his personal integrity ("follow through on a sale") even as he breaks a few laws here and there (false imprisonment and unlawful search).

 

Marlowe is neither good nor evil, but inhabits a sort of no-man's land on the boundary between the two. I think the best film noir takes us to the boundary between good and evil. We recognize ourselves in Marlowe: never fully right, never completely wrong.

great minds certainly think alike. we borrow the same quote maker our point Only a minute apart :)

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great minds certainly think alike. we borrow the same quote maker our point Only a minute apart :)

 

Marlowe's self-assessment:  "I am just a small businessman in a very messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale," capture his essence as someone on the fringes of the law, who struggles to maintain his personal integrity ("follow through on a sale") even as he breaks a few laws here and there (false imprisonment and unlawful search).

 

Marlowe is neither good nor evil, but inhabits a sort of no-man's land on the boundary between the two.  I think the best film noir takes us to the boundary between good and evil.   We recognize ourselves in Marlowe:  never fully right, never completely wrong.

 

I agree about the best film noir taking us to the boundary between good and evil. Marlowe's not afraid to admit his personal involvement in the case. This is more than just trying to find a solution; this is vision of how cases impact, change, and are solved by folks who get emotionally, physically, and spiritually invested in what they're doing. I feel like the majority of cop shows right now are all about this reality but they struggle to get past the inherent distance between a person employed by the government to solve a case and a private eye who doesn't have the luxury of an institution to keep a boundary between them and what it happening around them. 

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The character Phillip Marlowe is interesting in that the boundaries between good and bad are blurred. While he has the observation and deduction skills of a Sherlock Holmes, he also has a hardened attitude similar to a criminal. His methods for obtaining information are unusual, and as one user already pointed out, probably illegal, as he goes through the woman's bag when he suspects her of lying.

 

I'm reminded of an exchange in L.A. Confidential between Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) and Ed Exley (Guy Pearce):

 

Captain Dudley Smith: Edmund, you're a political animal. You have the eye for human weakness, but not the stomach.

Ed Exley: You're wrong, sir.

Captain Dudley Smith: Would you be willing to plant corroborative evidence on a suspect you knew to be guilty, in order to ensure an indictment?

Ed Exley: Dudley, we've been over this.

Captain Dudley Smith: Yes or no, Edmund?

Ed Exley: No!

Captain Dudley Smith: Would you be willing to beat a confession out of a suspect you knew to be guilty?

Ed Exley: No.

Captain Dudley Smith: Would you be willing to shoot a hardened criminal in the back, in order to offset the chance that some... lawyer...

Ed Exley: No.

Captain Dudley Smith: Then, for the love of God, don't be a detective. Stick to assignments where you don't have...

Ed Exley: Dudley, I know you mean well, but I don't need to do it the way you did. Or my father.

 

Dudley Smith is basically describing the Hard-Boiled Detective trope seen in characters such as Phillip Marlowe and Bud White in L.A. Confidential.

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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.

Interesting how varied the actors who have played Marlowe on screen, Bogart (The Big Sleep), James Garner (Marlowe), Robert Montgomery (The Lady in the Lake), Elliott Gould (The Long Goodbye) and for direct comparison Robert Mitchum (Farewell My Lovely). A problem that did arise from casting Dick Powell was the change in title as the studio thought the public might think that Farewell, My Lovely, given Powell's presence, was a musical hence the more visceral title of Murder My Sweet.

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Wk 2 Daily Dose: Murder, My Sweet

 

The essential question is no longer 'who-done-it?' but how does this protagonist act?"

--He knows more than everyone else.  He knows she’s lying to him when she

   walks through the door.  That’s why he locks her in.

--How he solves the crime keeps our interest, not so much whether he solves it  

   or not.  It’s about how interesting his m.o. is.  That’s what hooks us. 

--He is the show.  “What unorthodox thing will he do next?”

 

 

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

 

--“I’d just get you in a lot of trouble,” in response to the woman wanting to work with him, implying that trouble follows him, not the other way around. He is the protagonist:  the conflict happens to him in the narrative. What happens to the murdered person seems of much less importance to our enjoyment of the film, than what scrapes Marlowe gets in solving it. Marlowe admits to not being perfect. The classic detective would say something like "put yourself in my hands and you'll be safe, I'm tough.  Nothing bad can happen to me or to you now that you're with me."  

 

--“I always follow through on a sale.”  It’s more about Marlowe “following through on a sale” than solving the actual crime for the sake of what's right.  The crime-solving is a service rendered for a sum. That's what's "right" to Marlowe.

 

--“I’m not always this brilliant, but I’m improving.” Could this be an inside joke on the “amazing new type of role “ (as promised in the trailer) that Dick Powell is taking on in this film, a radical departure from his song and dance roles of the 1930s, and also a metaphor for his switch to dramatic acting.

 

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

--He’s outside the box, and sometimes, the law. He’s breaking new ground,

   making up the rules as he goes, just as the filmmakers were doing. 

--Because he’s not actually a policeman, he doesn’t have to behave like one.  The code doesn't apply to him.  These movies pushed the envelope with end-runs around the production code.

 

In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style? 

--The setting.  It seems like just about every film noir begins with a woman walking

   into the P.I.’s office with a problem.  This scene, or one like it, is somewhere in   

   the setup scenes of just about every film noir.

--The film-noir P.I. will stop at nothing to find out what he needs to know: unlawful

   imprisonment, kidnapping, illegal search and seizure, etc.

--The rapid-fire repartee.

 

This film-noir idea of "a good individual doing things they would never otherwise do except for these dark extenuating circumstances" could be applied to Dick Powell himself.  A song-and-dance man turned into a scruples-challenged, hard-nosed gumshoe, solving cold-blooded murders?  Dealing with unsavory perpetrators, and clients??!!   And women of ill-repute.  Hmmmm!

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Marlowe uses a bit of force and not so lawful ways of doing business. He is not going to take any crap from someone. He uses key self awareness that informs him on Grayle, knowing perfectly well that she is not who she says she is. All he has to do is figure out a couple of things and get under way with what to do with the information. Marlowe has a mysterious air about him. The almost dangerous side of him gives off a peculiar sense that doesn't quite settle with you, almost fitting like a puzzle piece for a film noir.

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Daily Dose of Darkness #6: Business Is Getting Better (The Opening Scene of Murder My Sweet)

 

—Describe some of the things Marlowe says or does that make him a new kind of private detective, and why do you think this kind of private detective fits so well within the film noir context?

Philip Marlowe tells us why a private detective like himself fits so well in a film noir: “I’m just a small business man in a very messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale.” In a messy business, he cannot trust anyone, including the woman sitting in his office posing as a news reporter and asking questions. He acts on his suspicions immediately by locking his door behind so he can put himself in the lead and ask his questions.

 

—In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style?

It’s hard to say from this short clip, except maybe that the private detective is the lead. Is this a new innovation for films in the 1940s? Philip Marlowe is in control from the start: He doesn’t answer the elevator attendant and he asks Ann Grayle (played by Ann Shirley) all the questions.

 

Additional thoughts: What struck me the most about this clip was the litter and the shoulder pads! Was this a set built for the movie or an actual office? Either way, no one bothered to clean up the hallway outside Marlowe’s office. The hallway floor is dirty, and lots of crumpled paper sits up against the wall right outside his door. And Anne Shirley is wearing a pair of mighty pointy shoulder pads in that clip.

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There has been some great comments already on Murder My Sweet brought up for discussion.  I agree.  The quotes in red are from Glyndda's post earlier. Those in black are from assessments. 


 


Murder My Sweet-one of the great Marlowes.  Although I agree with Effie P below that Dick Powell never really did it for me physically as a Philip Marlowe character, he can certainly act the part.  I read the assertion this morning taken from the Frank paper that Marlowe represents a new/different kind of detective and he becomes the major player in the drama.  Agreed, however he is the major player in the written series and so it is correct to put him in that same format on film. 


 


I agree that Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet does indeed mark "a new kind of detective" though to me the characterization is still in the beginning stages of development.  Borrowed from the written series, I have to admit I have a bit of a problem with Dick as a cynical, untrusting detective bordering between what is right, what is bad and what is ethical.  Dick lacks for me the physical presence of detective, maybe this is because I'm a musical theatre vocal coach in profession and remember Dick from his musical days in 42nd Street, Goldiggers of 33 etc.  Dick to me lacks the edginess of the film noir hero. It also seems that others agree with me on this point though I have nothing against his acting in general. I just prefer to see actors like Dana Andrews, or Bogie in such roles. 


 


I made some observations that I think are significant.  PI's are indeed considered being on the "fringes" of law, perhaps that has been instilled in our subconscious by the official police force who want to maintain their own public perception that they are the good guys and PI's are basically mercenaries out for their own gain....who can tell.....


 


This is a good observation and I was going to write the exact same thing. Private Investigators are privately hired, and out for their own gain.  Thus there is that judgement that comes in about what is right for the client, caution with new clients, and what is ethical, good or evil in solving the case or getting the job done. Personal interest changes the playing field, and as we add in the post WWII malaise of distrust, cynicism (a film noir scene), we see how the PI can become sort of the 'anti-hero' of film noir. We see this kind of "hero" pop up in so many noirs.  The PI walks that shadowy world and becomes the perfect vehicle for film noir.


 


However, we have a movie made in the post war era where American men were considered men of honor and heroes.  I do believe this was one of the reasons that movies began to change. America was changing and they wanted to see "heroes" depicted even in the case of guys like Marlowe who were once considered on the fringes of society.  Was he portrayed as a war veteran?  I can't remember, however it would fit quite nicely with this whole idea.  Could Marlowe and other detectives like him be the precursor to our modern superheroes?????  Something to consider.


 


A good point to remember is keeping the "noir PI hero" in the context of the time.  The postwar period created a period of the "broken veteran" a period when many men did not trust women (men that went of to war and came home to find their women had moved on, cheated on them, or had become independent entering the work force).  Distrust becomes an underlying theme of noir.  PIs do not trust their clients, clients want to go undercover to investigate the character of the detectives they hire.   It is a lonely isolated world where "NO One is to be trusted".


 


This is the first thing that struck me about this particular scene. I have seen it before as I have watched this movie on several occasions and noticed right away that Marlowe is quite determined to retain his "honor" by ensuring that his promises to his client are fulfilled.  The beautiful woman in this case is not going to get in the way of that. I like that ethical element, it appeals to me and was the point that made Powell a palatable Marlowe for me.  There is no doubt that he is interested in her, as she is sharp, beautiful and just his kind of edgy, but it is business first with Marlowe and this lady is not going to be treated with "kid gloves" because she is beautiful.


 


I agree with Glyndda's comment:  It is obvious that Marlowe is determined to retain his "honor" do the right thing and we see his dilemma as he puts work before beauty. A theme of noir is often the "threat" that a woman might be the downfall ..  Marlowe refuses to let that happen, seeing through her devices quickly by locking the door and "getting it all out on the table" though as a detective blurring the ethical boundaries of what is appropriate.  His interest comes first. 


 


What do I see in Marlow that make him the new kind of detective......first as I mentioned above, that level of integrity, (we saw a very unsavory and underhanded detective figure in Born to Kill.....that movie was truly full of serious low lifes).  Also we see that Marlowe is a hard boiled guy alright, but he has a heart.  He is tough, ethical and consequently quite sexy.  I believe women, like men (I do emphasize here, men and women who are sexual adults) are drawn to men whom they can't "conquer" easily by their looks, or neediness, etc....I certainly am.


 


Good point there there is indeed a sexual attraction or at least a connection to the self assured man that won't be brought down by looks, neediness etc.  But this is where Dick looses it for me a bit...  his physicality doesn't match his assertive confidence.  Why I prefer Bogie or Andrews.  But what makes Marlowe different is his determination to be honorable, do the right thing .. etc.  A far cry from "BORN TO KILL".


 


In the scene we viewed we see him quietly lock the door behind the very attractive female, but his intentions are not sexual at all.  He picks up on her act in about 10 seconds and ensures that when he outs her facade, she will not be able to run away.  He acts as if her beauty and charm has indeed drawn him in (we saw this same action in Maltese Falcon from Bogie who plays Sam Spade)....  He walks around her sizing her up and she thinks she has the upper hand until he grabs her bag, dumps it unceremoniously onto his desk and finds her actual name all in about 30 seconds.  She is knocked backward emotionally and quickly gives up the information he wants.


 


I love that Marlowe "plays the game" but only for a few seconds, locking the door, leaning in pretending sexual interests and then unceremoniously dumps her purse on the deck and gets to the point.  "No femme fatale" is going to make a monkey out of me..


 


This particular behavior is the "unusual" that I see in this scene.  He is an excellent reader of character and the fact that she is a woman doesn't phase him one bit as far as finding out what he wants to know.  Marlowe's character in this scene fits the noir genre very well, because (in my opinion and observation) film noir has moved us out of the rough and tumble world of open and in-your-face crime with uncivilized street thugs etc.  We see a sophisticated "style" associated with the investigation of this crime.  Subtlety is screaming at us through the entire movie, the sexiness I associated with this character also seems to run thoughout the noir genre and not only with Marlowe's character.  The great film Laura is another study in this new style of detective behavior.  


 


There is indeed a new kind of sexuality that runs through film noir..  a new kind of detective, sexy but aloof, write in the middle grey ground of good/evil, ethical/unethical, trusting/untrusting...this ambiguity in nearly all things makes for an interesting and sophisticated new type of character.  We all have our preference..  I feel Dana Andrews in Laura or Bogie in Maltese Falcon and Dick in Murder My Sweet all illuminate this new emerging "anti-hero". 


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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.

He's also not so tough that he can't beg for his life when it looks like he's going to take a bullet. When it looks like Claire Trevor is FINALLY going to plug him (talk about your bad-guy pre-plug explication) he tries to convince her it's not necessary. I like Powell because he gets a kind of desperate lilt in his voice that makes him llittle less hard boiled than Bogart. Bogart is always in control, even when he's vulnerable, like telling Mary Astor he loves her, but she's going to jail, not that there's anything wrong with that. Powell's got an on-edge setting that anybody would have with a gun pointed at them about to go off. It's the same thing that makes Jimmy Stewart so appealing. Jimmy Stewart can do desperate, and we've all been desperate.

 

What I want to know is where the term "hard boiled" comes from? Cooking or laundry? Is he hard boiled like an egg, or is he hard boiled like a spotless white shirt (we don't boil laundry anymore). I feel some googling coming on.

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In my opinion, Marlowe is the quintessential film noir detective. He is tough, cunning, smart, quick-witted, talks fast and directly to the point, and he is willing to use force when he has to in order to obtain information or defend himself. He is somewhat sentimental but does not let his emotions take over and make his decisions for him. He is intrigued by the femme fatale, brilliantly portrayed by typical noir "bad girl" Claire Trevor, but unlike other private detectives, such as Jeff in Out of the Past, he doesn't let himself fall for her, and his decisions are made with certain moral standards and professional mind.

 

Humphrey Bogart has become the iconic Marlowe for his role in The Big Sleep, but Powell does it all right in this film. He is convincing in his role as the detective who tries to put two and two together in order to solve the case he's been assigned, but constantly finds twists and new evidence complicating the job. In fact, I don't think Bogart would be ideal to star in this picture, because Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet is not so much of a tough guy, but more of a thinker who makes a blind search (literally) in order to complete the puzzle.

 

In this Daily Dose of Darkness scene, we can tell Marlowe doesn't trust anybody, and he's right about it. Anne Shirley's character of course is not at all bad or criminal, but he has to be very cautious and suspicious with everyone in order to survive and succeed. And, of course, a little bit of necessary violence never hurt anybody in a film noir. Marlowe seems to be the guy always watching his step, even if he is not able to know exactly what he is doing to solve the case.

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This kind of detective is different than the ones that we have seen so far. For one thing, he seems to not be so haunted; so brooding. He's a detective that can quickly act and play a part, yet reveal his true self when needed. For another, he seems to make himself important to us in this scene. Gone are the images of the detective just being a shadow compared to the other, more larger than life characters. He is an important feature in the clip, in the whole story, and this is what makes him stand out from previous detectives.

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I agree that Dick Powell presents a different type of detective.  He is clean, well-groomed, clean-shaven, suave, and clearly has taste when it comes to his wardrobe (he doesn't have that often rumpled appearance presented by so many other detectives, including Bogart).

 

It is hard to see him in this role, however, having watched so many early musicals with him singing and hoofing. 

 

Bogart came up from the role of "bad guy" gangster so to me, he is more believable as a back room detective. 

 

Powell does present a contrast, being so well "put together" between himself and the dirty, dark, dank, world on the other side.  I am more inclined to quickly label him the good guy, perhaps it's from all the singing.  Sometimes I'm expecting him to start crooning!

 

He's an okay film noir character...not one of my faves.

 

 

 

 

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What I noticed about the interaction between Marlowe and Anne Grayle was that in the outer office he was quite gentlemanly, once he gets her into the inner office, the door locks and the interrogation begins.  As he looks her over and figures her out, he becomes quite rough with her with his questions and his actions.  The fast talking dialogue doesn't give her a chance to think and make up lies, he gets to the truth in no time. All along I find a little bit of humor to all the banter.  I notice that in a lot of the detectives in film noir movies. Along with being on the "finges" of the law I find the detectives of film noir to be very human and able to make mistakes like any of us.

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the edge vs the un edged or the determined vs the willing or juxtapose any interests and noir is there.

the era in America was ripe for this representation in film.  These new detectives define realism that

we needed, no more white hats as good guys here, we needed the real good and bad that exists in everyone

to be visual and out so that we could rationalize our own lives and times.   Bravo to all Marlowes, for showing us 

how to be strong in all our hats.

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

 

 

Powell's Marlowe has a snappy patter, and this quickness, while it draws on the style of the day, is sharp, angry and wise, even when he knows he doesn't know things. He is self-depracating, probably because he has a good understanding of what he doesn't know. Similar perhaps to this student of noir.

 

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

 

Marlowe is an outsider. Not only does this make him a great observer, it also keeps him honest. Shady but honest. His heart, post-war pure, though what that is escapes me, is dark. This makes him  a good film noir narrator, ffor while  things happen to him, he can be seduced...for the moment, he remains clear that nothing can be taken fo granted. Anne Grayle doesn't fool him for a moment.. 

 

--In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style?

 

I think this scene links strongly with the ethics espoused by Sam Spade.Marlowe needs to redeem himself for failing to protect his client in much te same way that Spade needs to find and punish his slimy partners murderer. This inherent justice is at least in part, a noir tradition. There is natural justice; not always pleasant but things get evened out.

 

Have to catch a ferry. Sorry for  rambling. 

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I'll focus in on this question: In what ways can this scene from Murder, My Sweet be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style?

 

Films prior to the advent of Film Noir would have NEVER had a detective treating a woman reporter like this. The detective would've treated her with kid gloves -- she's a lady, after all,  AND a reporter. Cops or detectives might have treated a prostitute or moll a little rough in films from the 30s but I can't think of any films from that period where a cop treats a lady like this. Marlowe doesn't give a damn about all that.  

 

This is what really stands out to me about this scene: ladies or sluts . . .it doesn't matter because in the protagonist's world, neither one can be counted on.

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Re: "a new kind of detective", and Marlowes behavior towards the woman in the clip..I think it is essentially a falling away of old ideas of gallantry and social grace towards women to get to the heart of the matter quickly- because lives are at stake.  Women had been shown to be capable of much more than needlework and traditional sexual roles..War made this all too clear to the men and women of the 40's - and the film industry had to reflect that, and did so very well in film noir.

Compared to the other detectives I've seen in this course-Andrews, Bogie- Powell comes across as cold and a bit angry at having been stymied in the execution of his duties. I will hold my judgement of him as a character until I've seen the entire film..but right now he's not appealing to me. Maybe its the way he grabbed her purse and shook the contents out-..it felt like a major personal violation. Can't imagine anyone doing something like that today.

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As it is common in films noir, women are not to be trusted.  Whether it is Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon or Ann Grayle, the investigators cannot afford to be fooled by a woman's charm.  He locks the door and stands over her waiting for the moment to grab her wrists and turn her purse upside-down.  The PI must treat the client like a suspect, especially if it is a woman.  

 

Much of this comes from an internal code.  Marlowe is looking out for himself, yet another change in the PI character.  He is implicated (through an attempted payoff) and interested in the jade as well.  There is less "professional distance" than you would expect in a professional context.  He needs to be this way to survive in the film noir reality -- it is filled with selfish, deceitful people motivated by lust and greed.  The best he can hope to do is stick with his morals and come through alive at the end, hopefully paid and able to carry on.

 

This sets up the trope of the rugged PI and the femme fatale.  You can even carry this all the way to an extreme sci-fi neo-noir like Blade Runner (1982).  Harrison Ford's Decker is investigating something he is ultimately implicated in because of Sean Young's femme fatale.  Ridley Scott pulls of the conventions perfectly, adapting them from the their origins.

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It would be nice to have some insight as to how detectives/investigators were portrayed in the 30s, before the noir era.  We are all so used to the Bogart, Powell, etc. versions that it's hard to compare without knowing what came before this!

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