Dialogue as black as lightning, shot through smoke and mirrors. Powell's Marlowe belies a certain naivete that adds an intrigue of despair to the story - a Los Angeles (and America) that lost its innocence long ago. This is preternatural noir - a mass hallucination turned into cultural memory.
4 & a half stars. Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler, and the first of several films featuring his iconic Philip Marlowe character, here played by Dick Powell (later played by Bogart, Elliot Gould and Robert Mitchum). Worth noting is character actor Mike Mazurki, one of Hollywood's great thugs, a role he played over 150 times. Shrewdly directed by HUAC snitch Dmytryk, it does justice to the great Chandler's work.
Chandler's novels are the kind you don't read because of a plot that makes sense, but because of the atmosphere, the characters, and general pulpiness. Powell is thankfully better as Marlowe than as a family man in Pitfall, and there are some truly gorgeous visual moments. Overall the film captures private eyes as they should be, and it feels more like a dream than a straightforward film noir.
Along with Kiss Me Deadly, one of the strangest of all detective movies. A film full of bizarre interactions, stilted dialogues, hallucinations, punning one-liners and some of the most abstract and theatrical compositions ever featured in a 'classical' Hollywood noir. I couldn't take my eyes off it! The detective film as subjective nightmare; more a precursor to Blue Velvet than a descendant of The Maltese Falcon.
This screen cap says it all...looks spectacular. And Dick Powell is wonderful as Philip Marlowe. With Powell, Marlowe is even wittier, even more cynical in his observations than when played by Bogart.. Powell sells it all perfectly, delivering the sharp one-liners with a deadpan expression that is both laugh-out-loud funny and knowingly tough.