Cast & Crew
Private investigator Philip Marlowe is hired by Orfamay Quest to find her missing brother Orrin. He visits a sleazy hotel and questions the owner and Grant Hicks, the current occupant of Orrin's room. Neither can provide any information, and the two men are soon found murdered with an icepick. Marlowe is knocked out but regains consciousness in time to see actress Mavis Wald flee from the hotel. He searches Hicks's body and finds a claim check for a camera shop, where he picks up some photographs of Mavis making love to notorious gangster Sonny Steelgrave. Marlowe tracks Mavis to her apartment and meets Dolores, a stripper and close friend of Mavis, but both prove uncooperative. In addition to a threat on his life made by Steelgrave and his henchman Wong, Marlowe is harassed by police Lieutenant French, who suspects him of murdering Hicks. Following a new lead, he calls on Dr. Lagardie and discovers the mortally wounded Orrin, who stabs Marlowe with an icepick before dying. After he is nursed back to health by Dolores, Marlowe tells Orfamay of her brother's death. At Dolores' request, he goes to Steelgrave's house and discovers Mavis, who is revealed to be Orfamay's sister, sitting next to Steelgrave's dead body. Marlowe, however, believes that Mavis is protecting her sister and lets her go. The following day, Mavis learns that Orfamay and Orrin planned to use the photographs to blackmail her. At the nightclub where Dolores works, Marlowe uncovers Lagardie's association with Dolores and telephones the police. Lagardie arrives before the police, shoots Dolores, and then kills himself.
H. M. Wynant
William H. Daniels
George W. Davis
Jay Humbrock Jr.
J. Mcmillan Johnson
Carroll L. Shepphird
As the film opens, Marlowe is employed by the improbably named Orfamay Quest (played by Sharon Farrell, later of The Young and the Restless). She's looking for her missing brother and therefore her problem becomes Marlowe's problem. Or actually more than one problem since after he questions two uncooperative witnesses they shortly afterwards turn up dead, making it obvious that this case isn't going to be very easy.
Marlowe was one of the rare theatrical films by noted TV director Paul Bogart, an Emmy winner for his work on All in the Family and The Golden Girls. Perhaps that background is what led him to use another TV veteran, James Garner, recognized for the series Maverick though he'd consistently made memorable film appearances. (The two were also war veterans, Bogart of World War Two, Garner of the Korean War.) Marlowe would prove to be something of a new direction for Garner. He'd always been strong in Westerns (Support Your Local Sheriff appeared the same year as Marlowe) and often portrayed military men since his first acting role in a stage production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. But in 1974, Garner would again become a private investigator on TV's The Rockford Files, a long-running and much loved show. (There was a series of TV movie sequels in the late 1990s, one of which even featured Marlowe co-star Rita Moreno.)
One of the most interesting things about Marlowe today is a chance to see a young Bruce Lee on the brink of world stardom. He'd made numerous films in Hong Kong since he was a child and was just making an impression on American audiences for his portrayal of Kato on TV's The Green Hornet. Because of that series, Lee had a sideline instructing Hollywood figures in martial arts, including Marlowe writer Stirling Silliphant (an Oscar winner for In the Heat of the Night, 1967). Lee apparently didn't use clothing from the studio costume department but bought his own on Rodeo Drive. His time on the set must have been fairly brief; Rita Moreno later said she never met Lee.
Producer: Sidney Beckerman, Gabriel Katzka
Director: Paul Bogart
Screenplay: Raymond Chandler (novel The Little Sister), Stirling Silliphant
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Costume Design: Florence Hackett (uncredited), Jean Louis (Gayle Hunnicutt's gowns and furs), James Taylor (uncredited)
Film Editing: Gene Ruggiero
Original Music: Peter Matz
Cast: James Garner (Philip Marlowe), Gayle Hunnicutt (Mavis Wald), Carroll O'Connor (Lieutenant Christy French), Rita Moreno (Dolores Gonzales), Sharon Farrell (Orfamay Quest), William Daniels (Mr. Crowell), Jackie Coogan (Grant W. Hicks), Kenneth Tobey (Sgt. Fred Beifus), Bruce Lee (Winslow Wong), H. M. Wynant (Sonny Steelgrave).
C-96m. Closed captioning.
by Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor
Carroll O'Connor - who died June 21st at the age of 76 - will be best remembered for portraying Archie Bunker on TV's All in the Family but his career actually was much more extensive. Born in New York on August 2nd, 1924, O'Connor served in the merchant marine during World War II before attending the University of Montana where he worked on the school newspaper. Before graduating, he followed his brother to another college in Ireland (he would later get a Masters in speech from Montana). It was in Ireland that O'Connor started acting in several local productions. He returned to the U.S. for his Broadway debut in 1958 and shortly after started to appear on numerous TV shows like The Untouchables and Naked City. His first film was Parrish (1961) though he eventually acted in over a dozen films during the Sixties including Cleopatra (1963), Marlowe (1969), Hawaii (1966) and Point Blank (1967). O'Connor even auditioned for the part of the Skipper in the TV series, Gilligan's Island, but it was his role as Archie Bunker in a 1971 sitcom that made him a star. All in the Family was an American version of the British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part that met some initial resistance (ABC rejected the first two pilots) but quickly captivated American audiences and became the country's top-rated TV show. Archie became such an icon that his chair is now preserved in the Smithsonian. The series lasted until 1979 and brought O'Connor four Emmys, even leading to a four-year spinoff Archie Bunker's Place starring O'Connor. (It also produced one of TV's oddest spinoffs in1994's 704 Hauser about a multi-racial family living in Archie Bunker's old house. It had no cast members from the earlier series and only lasted six episodes.) In 1988, O'Connor took the role of a Southern sheriff in a TV series based on the movie In the Heat of the Night and found himself in another hit, this one lasting until 1995. He also occasionally played Helen Hunt's father on Mad About You. By all accounts, O'Connor was nothing like Archie Bunker; in fact, O'Connor was an active anti-drug crusader, partly the result of his son's drug-related suicide.
By Lang Thompson
TCM REMEMBERS JACK LEMMON 1925-2001
Whether playing a cross-dressing jazz bassist or a bickering roommate, Lemmon has kept his fans in stitches for fifty years. But beneath that comedian's facade, the actor had a very serious side, which occasionally surfaced in such films as Days of Wine and Roses (1962) or Costa-Gavras' political thriller Missing (1982). Lemmon was truly a one-of-a-kind actor and his track record for acclaimed performances is truly remarkable: 8 Oscar nominations (he won Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955) and Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973), a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, 8 British Academy Award nominations, 4 Emmy Award nominations, numerous Golden Globe nominations, a two-time Best Actor winner at the Cannes Film Festival, the list goes on and on.
Lemmon entered the world in a completely novel fashion; he was born prematurely in an elevator in Boston in 1925. The son of a doughnut manufacturer, Lemmon later attended Harvard University but was bitten by the acting bug and left the prestigious college for Broadway. Between theatrical gigs, he played piano accompaniment to silent films shown at the Knickerbocker Music Hall in New York. Later, Lemmon claimed that he learned more about comic technique by watching these Chaplin, Keaton and Harold Lloyd two-reelers than acting school could have ever taught him.
From Broadway and early TV appearances to Hollywood, Lemmon moved West to make his screen debut in It Should Happen to You (1954), opposite Judy Holliday in a variation of her 'dumb blonde' persona that had won her an Oscar for Born Yesterday (1952). In It Should Happen to You, Holliday plays a struggling actress who soon wins fast fame as the product of promotion. Lemmon plays her levelheaded boyfriend but finds himself on the sidelines when the suave and sophisticated Peter Lawford appears on the scene. It Should Happen to You, directed by George Cukor, was a popular success and Lemmon and Holliday were quickly teamed again in Phffft! (1954), another lightweight romantic comedy. A year later, Lemmon hit the major leagues when he supported Hollywood heavyweights Henry Fonda, James Cagney and William Powell in Mister Roberts (1955). As Ensign Pulver, a deckhand who avoids work whenever possible, Lemmon won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar®.
Onscreen, Lemmon's characters often found that they were the wrong men for their jobs. In Cowboy (1958), Lemmon plays a city slicker venturing out on the wild frontier. His romantic visions of the West are soon changed by the hard-living, hard-drinking reality. Cowboy is based on the autobiography of Frank Harris, and, like the author, Lemmon found himself adapting to the rough and tumble lifestyle on the trail.
Lemmon brought a new comic persona to Hollywood films. He combined elements of screwball and slapstick comedy with his own self-deprecating humor to create satiric portraits of the contemporary American male. The sometimes cynical comic sense of director Billy Wilder provided Lemmon with the perfect complement. Together they made seven films, but it was their first, Some Like It Hot (1959), that captured the sheer comic genius of their collaborations together.
From sexual antics to social critique, Lemmon and Wilder sharpened their comic knives on the hypocrisies they saw in American culture. The Apartment (1960) focused on a working stiff who lends his home to his supervisors for their extramarital affairs. Problems arise when Lemmon falls for his boss's paramour - it gets even more complicated when she tries to kill herself in his pad! Though The Apartment was a comic success, with each passing year the film's serious side seems even more dark and derisive. Illicit love and the corruption of big business might not seem to be the stuff of hit comedies, but Wilder and Lemmon found humor in the most unlikeliest of places. Director and comic star went on to make five more films: Irma la Douce (1963), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Avanti! (1972), The Front Page (1974) and Buddy Buddy (1981).
Billy Wilder and Lemmon's lifelong comic foil Walter Matthau (nine collaborations with Lemmon in 32 years, including their most popular film, The Odd Couple, 1968) brought some of the comedian's finest funny moments to the screen. But there was a serious side too. Lemmon waived his salary to act in Save the Tiger (1973), the 'great American tragedy' of a businessman at the end of his rope. Lemmon won his second Academy Award for the film. In Missing (1982), directed by the uncompromising Costa-Gavras, Lemmon played a patriotic father searching for his kidnapped son in Latin America. The closer he gets to his goal, the clearer it becomes that a government conspiracy is behind his son's disappearance. Missing was inspired by a true story - the production was condemned by the Reagan administration and awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival.
Very few actors today can match Lemmon's range on the screen. He has acted in everything from lightweight sex farces (How to Murder Your Wife, 1965) to musicals (My Sister Eileen, 1955) to social dramas (Days of Wine and Roses, 1962) to political thrillers (The China Syndrome, 1979). Turner Classic Movies cherishes the memory of this remarkable talent.
By Cino Niles & Jeff Stafford
ANTHONY QUINN, 1915-2001
Not many actors can boast that they've inspired a Bob Dylan song but Anthony Quinn - who passed away June 3rd at the age of 86 - was one of the select few. But that's just one of many incidents in a life that can only be described as colorful. If a novelist had invented a character like Quinn, she would be accused of unbelievable invention. But in Quinn's case, it's all true.
Quinn was born April 21, 1915 in Mexico. His parents were involved in Pancho Villa's revolutionary struggle and must have made a striking couple since the father was half Irish and mother Mexican Indian. The couple were married on a train of rebel soldiers. After Quinn's birth, the family soon moved to East Los Angeles (after a quick Texas detour) where Quinn grew up in the shadow of Hollywood. (A branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library now occupies the site of Quinn's childhood home; in 1981 it was renamed in his honor.) At the age of 11 he won a sculpture award and shortly after began studying architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright in fact who suggested the possibility of acting to Quinn and even paid for an operation to cure a speech impediment. Along the way, Quinn also dabbled in professional boxing (he quit after his 17th match, the first he lost) and street-corner preaching. He continued to sculpt and paint for the rest of his life while also becoming a noted art collector.
Quinn's acting debut was in 1936 initially in a handful of barely noticable spots as an extra until he landed a speaking role in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman, supposedly on the recommendation of the film's star, Gary Cooper. One unanticipated result was that Quinn married DeMille's daughter the following year; they appeared together in Phil Karlson's Black Gold (1947) and had five children. Quinn also appeared on stage in 1936 playing opposite Mae West. Quinn continued in film parts that gathered acclaim: Crazy Horse in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), a gambler in The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), a soldier in Guadalcanal Diary (1943).
But it was the 1950s when Quinn broke out. Viva Zapata!(1952) provided him a wonderful role which he used to win a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Oddly enough, in Viva Zapata! Quinn worked with Marlon Brando who he had replaced in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. (Director Elia Kazan tried to start a rivalry between the two actors but they were great admirers of each other.) Quinn again won Best Supporting Actor playing painter Paul Gauguin Lust for Life (1956) which at the time was the shortest on-screen time to win an acting Oscar. The following year came was a Best Actor nomination for George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind (1957). As he did throughout his career, Quinn rarely hesitated to take work whereever he found it, which resulted in dozens of potboilers like Seven Cities of Gold (1955) but also a few cult favorites like Budd Boetticher's The Magnificent Matador (1955). It was a trip to Italy that brought Quinn one of his most acclaimed roles: a simple-minded circus strongman in Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954). Quinn directed his only film in 1958, The Buccaneer, a commercial failure he later attributed to producer Cecil DeMille's interference. Towards the end of that decade he appeared in Nicholas Ray's The Savage Innocents (1959) as an Eskimo, inspiring Bob Dylan to write "Quinn the Eskimo" (a Top Ten hit for Manfred Mann in 1968). In 1965, his relationship with an Italian costumer created a minor scandal when it was revealed that the couple had two children. Quinn divorced DeMille's daughter and married the costumer.
He continued the same mix of classics and best-forgotten quickies throughout the 1960s and '70s. A key role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) only confirmed his talents while he again earned a Best Actor nomination for the unforgettable lead role in Zorba the Greek (1964). The gritty crime drama Across 110th Street (1972) is one of the best American movies of its decade, enhanced by Quinn's turn as an embattled police captain. Quinn was a pope in The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), an Islamic leader in The Message (1976), a thinly disguised Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978) and an assortment of gangsters, con men, military leaders and what have you. The rest of his career might be summed up by the year 1991 when he gathered critical acclaim for his appearance in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, was nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor in Mobsters, co-starred with Bo Derek in Ghosts Can't Do It, worked beside John Candy and Macaulay Culkin in Chris Columbus' Only the Lonely and made a film so obscure it appears to have never appeared on video. Quinn married his third wife in 1997; they had one son. He had just completed the title role in Avenging Angelo (with Sylvester Stallone) at the time of his death.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor
"Beep, beep"- Philip Marlowe
For a guy with a limited vocabulary, you sure do manage to get your point across.- Philip Marlowe
The movie's title song, "Little Sister" was originally recorded by New York studio musicians but the producers were not happy with the vocal performance (rumored to be songwriter Norman Gimbel himself). They turned to executives at MGM Records who suggested that members from their newly signed star group, Orpheus, re-record the song. At the time, Orpheus had a national top 40 hit called "Can't Find The Time". The producers agreed and the Orpheus version was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York. It should be noted that only Orpheus lead singer, Bruce Arnold and backup singer, Jack McKenes were on the track since the music had been pre-recorded. However, future Orpheus member and legendary studio musician, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, plays drums on the song's backing track.
The working title of this film is The Little Sister.