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Murder, My Sweet

Murder, My Sweet(1944)

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The working title of this film was Farewell My Lovely, and several sources reviewed the film under that title. According to a New York Times article, RKO changed the title after the results of an Audience Research Inc. poll showed that audiences felt that the title suggested a Dick Powell musical. Modern sources add that the release of the film was delayed because of the title change. Finding the correct title was especially important because the studio wanted to differentiate this film from the musicals with which Powell had been associated. The Hollywood Reporter review comments that this picture launched "Dick Powell upon an entirely different type of film acting career...that of a tough hardbitten...detective." In a 1946 Saturday Evening Post article, Powell wrote that Murder My Sweet ended his ten-year effort to escape musicals. Powell said that when he asked RKO studio chief Charles Koerner for a "solid tough guy" character to portray, Koerner offered him the role of "Philip Marlowe." The Hollywood Reporter review also notes the importance of this film in elevating the crime picture to the "A" brackets. The review states that "1944 May go down as the year in which Hollywood boosted the crime picture from its long accepted state as the old reliable of the B and lesser brackets, gave it the gold dust treatment...and found the dust growing into huge, comforting chunks of bullion."
       RKO first produced the Raymond Chandler novel in 1942 as a "B" picture titled The Falcon Takes Over . The Chandler novel also served as the basis for the 1974 Avco-Embassy film Farewell, My Lovely, starring Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling and directed by Dick Richards. Murder My Sweet was the first film to feature detective "Philip Marlowe". Among other films featuring the character of "Marlowe" are the 1946 M-G-M film Lady in the Lake starring Robert Montgomery as the detective, the 1946 Warner Bros. film The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart, the 1947 Fox film The Brasher Doubloon the 1969 M-G-M film Marlowe starring James Garner and the 1973 United Artist's film The Long Goodbye starring Elliott Gould. According to a pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter, RKO considered Ann Dvorak for a lead in the 1944 picture. Night locations were shot in the Hollywood Hills, according to Hollywood Reporter. This picture marked Adrian Scott's first assignment as a producer. According to a post-release news item in Hollywood Reporter, the box office success of this film won Scott a new contract with RKO. Actress Anne Shirley was married to Scott from 1945 through 1949. This was the last film she made before her death in 1993. Dick Powell and Claire Trevor reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on June 11, 1945.