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

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Fascinating as Marlowe grabs the femme fatale's  hand and asks "Do your own typing Miss Alison?" This cat and mouse interchange is extraordinary as it leads her to intially believe she's vamped Marlowe as is in control. Yet, he instantly empties out her purse, reading her actual name on her passbook and very sarcastically says "I'm not always this brilliant Miss Grayle but I'm improving." His false vulnerability as he goes in for the kill is perhaps his way of scaling down to her level and appearing more, human and approachable. He continues to try to get more information from her as his voice increases in volume.

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The combination of the set and the dialogue tells me who Philip Marlowe is. He's a low-rent detective who is no dummy and has his own code. His office is in a shabby building with litter in the hallways. He can't afford a secretary and his water cooler either hasn't been cleaned in a year or is filled with stagnant water. The only thing of value that he owns is probably the suit on his back. Yet he intends to follow thru on his "sale" to a deadman. He's sharp: he quickly sizes up that this woman is not who she claims to be. If he didn't have his own code of honor he'd probably make a bundle working for clients who prefer he look the other way.  The bogus reporter's dialogue tells us the kind of society we're watching: a society where wealthy men cheat on their wives, and then send their daughter out to help clean up the mess.

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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

 

LOL.....when I first found out that Powell was a song and dance man at one time I could hardly believe it!  I still don't see him in that role.......he'll always be the "tough guy" with the baby face to me......:)

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In this scene Marlowe seems more world weary. Particularly the way he handles Ann Grayle and grabs in order to get to her. I didn't get the sense that he was innocent but that he has a moral code. That code includes trying to do good and not letting emotion get in the way. To me it added to his past saying that he was burned by a female client once for being too soft and now he will not get burned again for showing emotion. Others have also said that he has more "disdain for humanity" yet I disagree. He knows the world is rotten to the core yet he tries to do what he feels is good. 

 

Hi Noah

your take on his view of the world is interesting to me.  When I first noticed his sense of ethics, I saw a man who believes he can make a difference in the world, even though those he affects may be few. You know, the whole "it matters to this Starfish" thing?  That is how I have seen him everytime I see this movie or actually any movie where he takes on this tough guy role. I wonder if we perceive differently because we ourselves view the world differently.....I am most definitely a "We can make a difference girl".  Any thoughts?

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This is going to be a hard one, in the noir world you have the chicken/egg thing or to be more precise the novel or the films. In my case it was the writtings of Chandler/ Hammet/ and MacDonald that led me to my affair with the films. Marlowe is my all time favorite literary character, so it is hard to not incompass all the writings and movies when I discuss him.

 

The thing you can take from this clip about Marlowe is two fold. First, he is a smart, tough talking (if not a smart a$$) and can back it up. The other is he is loyal, he got paid to do a job and he is going to see it through regardless. He is the grey knight.

 

Marlowe describing himself from the novel The Long Goodbye. (highley recommend you add it to your summer reading list.)

“I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don't like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I'm a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life.”

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After reading many of these posts, I did a bit of research on the private detective, specifically the Pinkerton detective. For anyone who is interested, type in "Pinkerton" at the Wikipedia site, which gives a nice history of this agency. I didn't know that the agency is still in operation now as a Swiss subsidiary. But I knew that Dashiell Hammett was a Pinkerton operative. A lot of his writing is based on his experiences as a private eye.

 

But what does this have to do with Marlow? The Pinkertons have a somewhat shady history. Many operatives infiltrated unions and were hired by big corporations to fight strikers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so many workers would look with disdain on detectives in general. Perhaps that's why the elevator operator in Murder, My Sweet seems so sarcastic in his exchange with Marlowe: Marlowe is usually hired to do someone else's "dirty work."

 

I bet it would have taken a freelance detective a long time to set up a business in direct competition with the Pinkertons and with local law enforcement. I wonder about turf wars, for example. A private detective was probably considered a shady occupation from the start, which is perfect for film noir. But did it take Hammett's fiction to bring it to the attention of the public as a form of entertainment? I would think so, considering that most detective work is done in secret.

 

Hmmmm, I think your insight regarding Pinkerton is excellent.  I do have to say that I had an ex husband who actually put a detective on my tail during our separation and subsequent divorce.....I guess that "shady" reputation is probably still pretty widespread. If he hadn't admitted it to me later, I would never have known.....

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This is going to be a hard one, in the noir world you have the chicken/egg thing or to be more precise the novel or the films. In my case it was the writtings of Chandler/ Hammet/ and MacDonald that led me to my affair with the films. Marlowe is my all time favorite literary character, so it is hard to not incompass all the writings and movies when I discuss him.

 

The thing you can take from this clip about Marlowe is two fold. First, he is a smart, tough talking (if not a smart a$$) and can back it up. The other is he is loyal, he got paid to do a job and he is going to see it through regardless. He is the grey knight.

 

Marlowe describing himself from the novel The Long Goodbye. (highley recommend you add it to your summer reading list.)

“I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don't like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I'm a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life.”

 

Wow Noirnado!   I like that self description.  I think the feel of Murder My Love picks up on this pretty well.  I will admit that I have never read a Marlowe novel.  My only impression would be the movies I have seen with Marlowe's character. Usually movies take a lot of artistic license from the novels, but it seems to me they were truly trying to capture that self characterization in this movie.

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After reading many of these posts, I did a bit of research on the private detective, specifically the Pinkerton detective. For anyone who is interested, type in "Pinkerton" at the Wikipedia site, which gives a nice history of this agency. I didn't know that the agency is still in operation now as a Swiss subsidiary. But I knew that Dashiell Hammett was a Pinkerton operative. A lot of his writing is based on his experiences as a private eye.

 

But what does this have to do with Marlow? The Pinkertons have a somewhat shady history. Many operatives infiltrated unions and were hired by big corporations to fight strikers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so many workers would look with disdain on detectives in general. Perhaps that's why the elevator operator in Murder, My Sweet seems so sarcastic in his exchange with Marlowe: Marlowe is usually hired to do someone else's "dirty work."

 

I bet it would have taken a freelance detective a long time to set up a business in direct competition with the Pinkertons and with local law enforcement. I wonder about turf wars, for example. A private detective was probably considered a shady occupation from the start, which is perfect for film noir. But did it take Hammett's fiction to bring it to the attention of the public as a form of entertainment? I would think so, considering that most detective work is done in secret.

A freelance wouldn't be in competition with Pinkerton's for the most part.  You get hints of it in the openings of different movies, that for the most part their bread and butter was divorce.  We forget that divorces were hard to get, why Reno was the "Biggest Little City in the World".  Even if both parties wanted the divorce you had to prove infidelity...went to your lawyer, he had a private dective on the roll, an escort would be taken out a few times, a time line developed, then everything arranged for a photoshoot, which didn't have to prove much.  A shady business because of the law. 

 

Pinkertons were more business orientated, and did all they could to bust unions, or capture famous outlaws by any means.

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To me, this guy doesn't fit into the typical detective when I think of film noir... There is a sort of innocence to him.. Someone earlier mentioned a "babyface".

He at first let the female take over, by asking questions and him answering.. Then everything changed the minute he grabbed her hand and became immediately aggressive dumping out her bag.  A lot of the time the detective seems to fall for the beauty.. The femme fatale.  But not this guy.. He don't take no ****!  Although of course, I don't know what happens at the end.. Perhaps he ends up falling for her after all?

Powell at this time is much sharper around the edges than he was in the 1930's, he was really baby faced in his song and dance days.  By comparison he is more haggard and he fits the role.  He did enough and well, I really liked him as a kid, can even remember when he died.  Here's his baby face from Wikipedia.

220px-Dick_powell_-_publicity.JPG

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he paid me to do a job and protect him and I didn't."  This tells me he does abide by some sort of moral code.  He says he believes in following through on a job.  That indicated that he tried to be as honest as he can depending on a set of circumstances.  

 

Marlowe certainly is no Paul Drake (Perry Mason.)  He is more harsh and gritty.  His clients are not always the cream of the crop, so he has learned to be leery of people.  He really does not seem to trust anyone.

 

A film noir detective has to be dark and a little seedy.  Otherwise the character would not be interesting.  He has to be worldly and know how to deal with unsavory people.  

 

Marlowe's office does not seem to be in the best part of town.  The room is almost void of light.  So plenty of shadows.

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He is not as gritty as you would expect a noir gumshoe would be but he is sharp and to the point.

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Marlowe definitely does not fit the usual profile of a detective. He is smart, sharp and has a "rough 'n tough" attitude when it comes to a lying woman. He is a bit less than cordial to her in the start, and once he suspects something is up, he takes to time in restraining her to then empty her purse to find her real identity. Certainly not your typical, run of the mill film noir detective. Marlowe put on sort of a veil of innocence in the beginning then tore it right off to show Ann Grayle he's no goof. 

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After watching this scene from Murder, My Sweet, I can't help but to think of Dick Powell's Philip Marlowe as the essential noir character. A private eye, but with the feelings and actions of everyone in the genre. Marlowe is cynical, not trusting anybody. I feel like he immediately knew that Ann Grayle wasn't who she said he was. He says "I'm just a small businessman in a very messy business", which can also equate to the genre as well as his profession. He's just one cynical character in a complicated, messy world full of cynics. The world of noir is so scarred by betrayals and lies that Marlowe jokingly names himself as a possible perpetrator of Marriott's murder. In the end, Marlowe senses the animosity Ann feels for her step mother, so he decides to pay them a visit. I've never seen this flick but it seems like a great noir!

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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. 

Very nicely put. I agree with your answers to the questions put to us by our curator. I am a beginning noir student and am looking at these noir films in a whole new light even though I have seen them many times. This movie is Powell's departure from his musicals. He did this by choice and was concerned whether his image would be ruined. I say he did a great job. Didn't ruin him at all.

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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". 

 

 

James, I am flattered.  I have to say that I am in full agreement with your comments regarding the physicality of Powell as a good Marlowe, however I think his acting abilities make him quite powerful as the Marlowe character.  I think it is a special actor (and I am hard to please when it comes to them) who can overcome such a disadvantage and become believable in a role. Interestingly I have only been interested in Powell's characters when they are a "tough guy" role.   There are many movies I have watched where I felt the actor didn't match the role and could not overcome this problem.

 

I also agree with your last statement.  One of the greatest things about noir (and what has made me such a huge fan) is the subtlety that pervades these movies.  You have to pay attention to every minute of these movies or you will miss something.  Every time I watch Laura, for instance, I learn something new.  I love the unexpected twists and turns that you would never pick up on or expect from other movies.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the old gangster movies, but you can pretty much determine what's going to happen in the movie from the first 10 minutes or so.  

 

Noir is different.  You truly do have to figure it out......and I love a good puzzle.

 

One more observation.....I saw your remark about the fact that bowing to the sexual wiles of a woman could become a downfall for our main character.....it is an excellent observation and I saw another comment somewhere that alluded to the same thing.....that person quoted "out of the past" with one of my favorite bad boys Robert Mitchum....where that naughty femme fatale actually does ensnare our hero and he does indeed experience the downfall.  Our noir private eyes definitely have to look out for their self interests.

 

An engaging post thanks!

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Q1/Q2: Marlowe has a shady sophistication. He plays along until he man handles the dame. This is a strong divergence from apro pos manners with a "lady." He sees through situations and targets the truth. She begins to dig for information and he turns the tables immediately and interogates her, this is a new method of investigation and one that digs deeper that a "mechanical detective device" as previous gentile detectives.

 

Q3: We get the impression immediately that his tactics are shadowy and sketchy and he has more than a working knowledge of the underworld. He maintains his moral code, though and we are confident that he will lead us to the truth. Our curiosity with the darker side of the street is whet and this trek becomes a well worn path in the Noir journey.

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When I think of What he does in the scene he is definitely a new breed of detective. First off, he noticed how well her nails weremanicured and concludes that she is no reporter and has another motive for being in his office. This type of detective is cynical, shrewd, and extremely observant. I will go as far to say that many characters underestimate his abilities. In addition, the female always assume she can use her feminine charm to get over. I have never seen the movie but will be there at 10:30 am.

This class is perfect timing for me. As a teacher, this is the first summer that I am not working and will have tons of free time.

Finally, with film noir, I see that it is always melodrama involving some type of dramatic event that the protagonist is drawn into by some femme fatale, which in turn, is usually to his detriment.

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Legerdemain

As soon as Grayle mentions the jade, Marlowe knows exactly what to do.  I didn't notice it until the 2nd viewing, but Marlowe locks her in the room as soon as she gets in.  Marlowe tricks not only those who come into his office, but the audience as well.  This scene is amazing in terms of non-verbal gesture: what people do with their hands and bodies.  Grayle's change of character is materilized in the glasses she wears, Marlowe grabs the phone and twirls the key rather than say to Grayle what the situation is, he furrows his eyebrows, crosses his arms, smiles, hesitates, communicates his detachment stuffing the pencil in the elevator operators pocket.

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

 

Marlowe seems much more aggressive and physical as a detective. He's not as cerebral as detectives in the past; he's an action man. Additionally, he seems to be playing his interests. At first, he claims no interest to the case much, but the jade and the animosity between step-mother and daughter arouse his curiosity. He's cynical, as many have said, which will probably contribute to him making interesting choices through the movie. Already his cynicism has paid off and he is able to uncover Grayle's identity in a swift moment.

 

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

 

Noir seems to be about mystery and danger. Thus, the addition of a detective that plays by his rules and is out to take care of himself first and foremost, with whatever means necessary, supports the world that noir creates: shady, treacherous, dark. Additionally, it makes for a more interesting film because the audience looks to see what these rugged detectives will do. Will they work for justice? Will they work for the dame? Will they work for themselves? It adds a layer of complexity when a central character such as the detective, unlike the typical view of detectives as moral do-gooders, is straddling the line between right and wrong.

 

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

 

The development of the morally ambiguous detective is definitely something that we'll continue to see in future films.

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

All I can do is compare him to Sherlock Holmes or Philo Vance where those characters were intellectuals that studied the evidence and (almost) always out-smarted the bad guys. They were almost always professional with their clients, whereas this character, Phillip Marlowe, is extremely flawed, rude, and rough around the edges and at times gets out-smarted and out-muscled.

 

 

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

Phillip Marlow represents grim, grim reality. The way a real Private Eye might be like, absolutely imperfect.

 

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

I think I know why the ENTIRE FILM, “Murder, My Sweet” might be considered to be important to the Film Noir style, but I’m not sure about why the particular clip provided in the Daily Dose #6 is important to the style. Perhaps it’s because it establishes Phillip Marlowe as practically a hoodlum (a common Film Noir trait) as opposed a clean-cut hero. I’d have to do research to confirm this but this character established may be among the very few original ANTI-HEROs that is expected to save the day? And this scene provides us with an example of that insight.

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Marlowe's joke alluding to the fact that he could be a plausible suspect in the murder sparks a humanity within him and creates a protagonist out of an otherwise archetypal character.  It is an example of the style of noir, the detective as main character and not just a catalyst role.

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MMS is important to film noir with its emphasis on dialogue that is terse, often banter, sarcastic, rude,

and often humorous. None of the other opening scenes of our first 5 feature this great noir feature.

This film lacks the dark shadows opening and the unknown destination feature of the others. MMS sets

the mood as well as the character of the characters. Great stuff!

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As many have pointed out, Marlowe is filled with attitude.  Disbelieving and cynical, he spots her for a fake right off.  Rather than expose her directly by saying so, he takes action and “proves” that she’s not who she says she is.  This is not at all like the classic “police inspector” of the past, who would have questioned her at some length, until she admitted that her story could not be true.  

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Marlow's behavior clearly shows he is in the fridge of legality - for starters he locks Anne Grayle in his office. He is one step ahead of her- perhaps making up for being one step behind the night before, when ambushed during the failed jewelry delivery - noir cat and mouse game, in which players are making the rules as they go. Yet, Marlow has an ethical code- he wants to finish his assignment, even if the client is dead (or perhaps he is rationalizing his curiosity and/or looking for a bigger payment? - duality - another element of noir). He is, of course, a small ticket private detective even the elevator boy knows he has money problems - film noir detectives have been treated badly by life -they are capable and should be better of - but either because of individual flaws or their circumstances, they are down in their luck. Marlow is eye candy for the bored society girls- an inverted cinderella story - but despite getting the girl at the end of each story, he never breaks out of his underworld- social inequality is written all over the stories (a remanent of the depression?, an inherited traits from the German expressionist movement (Pandora's box, The Three Penny Opera, M - in which poor dedicated mothers, probably widows from WWI, can not properly protect their children)?

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Marlowe's office says it all. A bare desk, a single client chair, no family photos, no secretary. He is a man alone - forced to drum up whatever business he can to satisfy his personal needs and sense of self. This self reliance often forces a compromise in his business and personal life, a compromise between the job he's accepted and whatever moral compass directs him. As such the world he inhabits is usually on the edge or outside of the life of the everyman, forcing him to take risks, avoid trusting others, and constantly balancing his actions based on his own sense of right and wrong. These personality characteristics of dark and light set him and others like him apart from a sleazy Peeping Tom taking incriminating photos though a bedroom window and place him comfortably in the gray morality plays that drive the film noir genre.

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