Murder, My Sweet


1h 35m 1944
Murder, My Sweet

Brief Synopsis

Detective Philip Marlowe's search for a two-timing woman leads him to blackmail and murder.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Farewell My Lovely
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Thriller
Film Noir
Release Date
Dec 9, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (New York, 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,572ft

Synopsis

Dazed and blinded, private detective Philip Marlowe is interrogated by police lieutenant Randall about his involvement in several murders. In response to Randall's accusations, Marlowe relates the following story: Upon returning to his office late one evening, Marlowe is visited by the hulking Moose Malone, who asks him to find Velma Valento, the redhead he has not seen for the eight years he has been in prison. Moose insists that Marlowe accompany him to Florian's, the nightclub where Velma worked. When no one at the club remembers Velma, Marlowe visits Jessie Florian, who took over the bar after her husband's death, but the drunken Jessie denies knowing Velma until Marlowe finds her photo hidden in a filing cabinet. Jessie then says that Velma is dead, and when Marlowe informs her that Moose is out of jail, she becomes hysterical. Marlowe leaves the house, but watches from the window as the suddenly sober Jessie makes an urgent phone call. Upon returning to his office, Marlowe finds pretty boy Lindsay Marriott waiting for him. Marriott hires the detective to accompany him to a secluded canyon while he delivers the ransom for some stolen jewels. As Marlowe waits in the canyon for the jewel thieves, he is knocked unconscious and awakens to find a young woman standing over him. After the woman runs away, Marlowe discovers Marriott's dead body in the back seat of the car. Marlowe's story of his canyon escapade is greeted with disbelief by Randall, who warns him to stay away from Jules Amthor, a psychic advisor whom the police are investigating. Marlowe then returns to his office, where he finds a woman reporter waiting to question him about a stolen jade necklace. Seeing through the young woman's ruse, Marlowe forces her to admit that she is Ann Grayle, and that her stepmother, Helen, is the owner of the necklace. At Marlowe's insistence, Ann drives him to the Grayle estate, where he meets the elderly Mr. Grayle and his young attractive wife Helen, who explains that the necklace, valued at $100,000, was stolen from her at gunpoint. After Helen admits that Marriott, her friend, agreed to ransom the necklace for her, Marlowe asks her if Marriott knew Amthor and she replies that Marriott was Amthor's patient. Feeling responsible for Marriott's death, Marlowe agrees to search for the necklace and Marriott's killers when Amthor pays a surprise visit to the Grayles. After warning Amthor that the police are on his trail, Marlowe returns home. Soon after, Helen visits him with a retainer fee and invites him for a drink at the Coconut Beach Club. When Helen excuses herself to powder her nose, Marlowe sees Ann, who offers to hire him away from Helen. Marlowe leaves Ann's table to talk to Moose at the bar, and when he returns, Ann is gone, but has left her phone number and address behind. Following Amthor's instructions, Moose takes Marlowe to the psychic's apartment, where the detective accuses Amthor of being involved in blackmail schemes with Marriott. When Amthor learns that Marlowe doesn't have the necklace, he knocks him unconscious. Three days later, Marlowe wakes up in a locked room, drugged and barely able to walk. After breaking out of the room, Marlowe stumbles down the stairs to the office of Dr. Sonderborg, Amthor's associate, and after seizing the doctor's gun, Marlowe leaves the house. On the street, the woozy Marlowe meets Moose, who offers to help him. Moose quickly puts Marlowe in a cab and disappears after the detective tells him that Amthor is involved with Velma. At Ann's apartment, Marlowe announces that he has recognized her as the woman in the canyon. Just as Ann admits that she found Marlowe's address on Marriott's body, Randall arrives and Marlowe tells him about Sonderborg and the jade necklace. After Randall leaves, Ann and Marlowe drive to the Grayle house and find Mr. Grayle, upset by the news that, unknown to him, Marriott had been his tenant at his beach house. Racked by doubts about his wife's fidelity, Grayle asks Marlowe to close the case. Determined to clear his own name, Marlowe and Ann drive to the beach house. There, Marlowe kisses Ann and she accuses him of romancing her for information. Helen interrupts their argument, and after Ann accuses her of being a gold digger, she storms out of the house, leaving her stepmother alone with Marlowe. Trying to win the detective's sympathy, Helen confides that Amthor had learned of her infidelities when she was his patient and was demanding the necklace in exchange for his silence. Helen also states that she suspects Amthor of killing Marriott for double-crossing him by stealing the necklace. Helen kisses Marlowe and asks his help in eliminating Amthor. When the detective agrees, Helen instructs him to lure Amthor to the beach house the next evening with the promise of the necklace. After leaving Helen, Marlowe drives to Amthor's apartment and finds the doctor dead, his neck snapped by a big man. As Marlowe examines a signed photo of Velma on Amthor's desk, Moose appears and says that the woman in the photo is not his Velma. Promising to reunite Moose with Velma, Marlowe takes him to the beach house the following night and tells him to wait outside. Inside, Marlowe tells Helen that Amthor is on his way, and she shows him the necklace, explaining that she faked the holdup. In response, Marlowe calls her Velma and accuses her of murdering Marriott when he balked at following her orders to kill him. Marlowe also conjectures that Mrs. Florian notified Helen that Moose had hired Marlowe to find her, and that Helen panicked out of fear of going to jail for a crime that she committed with Moose. Marlowe concludes that she would have killed him, too, if Ann hadn't interrupted. At that moment, Helen pulls a gun on Marlowe and disarms him, and Ann and Mr. Grayle burst into the house. Just as Helen is about to kill Marlowe, Grayle, unable to bear the thought of losing her, shoots her. Drawn by the sound of gunshots, Moose breaks in and finds Helen, his Velma, dead. In a rage, Moose lunges at Grayle, who shoots in self-defense. Marlowe jumps in front of the gun as it explodes and blinds him. Although he hears the shots, Marlowe is unable to see who is hit. Back at the police station, Randall frees Marlowe and tells him that Ann has coroborated his story and that Moose and Grayle are both dead. Marlowe hands Randall the necklace and is guided out of the police station, talking about his affection for Ann. Unseen by the blinded Marlowe, Ann follows him and climbs into his cab. When he smells her perfume, they kiss.

Photo Collections

Murder, My Sweet - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills taken for Murder, My Sweet (1944), starring Dick Powell and Claire Trevor. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Murder, My Sweet - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release American movie posters for Murder, My Sweet (1944), starring Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Farewell My Lovely
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Thriller
Film Noir
Release Date
Dec 9, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (New York, 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,572ft

Articles

Murder My Sweet: The Essentials


SYNOPSIS:

Detective Philip Marlowe is hired by ex-con Moose Malloy to find his vanished showgirl and lady friend Velma, who seems to have taken a permanent powder. A cynical knight operating by his own system of honor, Marlowe soon becomes embroiled in a scheme involving a stolen jade necklace owned by a gorgeous and flirtatious blonde, Helen Grayle, wife of the very rich Mr. Grayle. As Marlowe's involvement in all these shady dealings escalates, so does the danger. The detective's path intersects with Ann Grayle, the rich man's daughter, who is following her own secret agenda, and a group of thugs tied to the jewel theft, led by an aristocratic quack doctor, Amthor, who drugs and keeps Marlowe captive for days until the detective escapes to unravel the case.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Producer: Adrian Scott
Screenplay: John Paxton
Based on the novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Editing: Joseph Noriega
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Carroll Clark
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Dick Powell (Philip Marlowe), Claire Trevor (Velma/Mrs. Grayle), Anne Shirley (Ann), Otto Kruger (Amthor), Mike Mazurki (Moose Malloy), Miles Mander (Mr. Grayle), Esther Howard (Mrs. Florian)
BW-96m. Closed captioning.

Why MURDER, MY SWEET is Essential

Murder, My Sweet is considered one of the first film noirs and a key influence on shaping the genre in its use of low-key black and white photography, its convoluted mystery plot and its depiction of a tough, cynical detective thrown into a world of corruption. Its box-office success helped establish the genre in Hollywood, inspiring generations of tough-talking gumshoes.

It was also the first film to feature Raymond Chandler's legendary private eye Philip Marlowe. Its success convinced Hollywood to try other adaptations of his novels, starting with The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Most critics consider Murder, My Sweet to be the most faithful in both plot and spirit to Chandler's original novel.

A landmark film for both Dick Powell, who forever altered his choirboy image, and director Edward Dmytryk, who crossed-over from B-programmers like Captive Wild Woman (1943) to become a respected director of film noirs like Cornered (1945, which reunited Powell, producer Adrian Scott and screenwriter John Paxton) and Crossfire (1947). Murder, My Sweet was Dmytryk and Scott's first major success as a producing/directing team; unfortunately, both of them would see their careers ruined by the Hollywood blacklist within two years. Dmytryk initially balked at the notion of casting Powell as a tough guy. "The idea of the man who had sung "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" playing a tough private eye was beyond our imaginations," he noted of Powell. At the time, Powell's career had hit a creative dead-end and he was locked into that overgrown songster image. Anxious to break out of that stale typecasting, Powell had even campaigned for the featured tough-guy insurance agent role in Double Indemnity (1944), a role, ironically enough, awarded to the equally unlikely comedic actor Fred MacMurray. RKO's chief Charles Koerner wanted Powell under contract to star in his studio's musicals, but the only way Powell would agree to sign a contract was if he could play the lead in Murder, My Sweet as the first picture.

Powell was not the only actor to resist typecasting in Murder, My Sweet. Anne Shirley and Claire Trevor both conspired to do a little acting-against-type of their own, and petitioned for the proverbial good girl Anne to play the scheming fatale and for Claire, used to playing molls and floozies, to play the "good and dull" (as Anne put it) nice girl. But to no avail: conventional typecasting was followed and the actresses delivered expected versions of their usual screen personas.

Murder, My Sweet was originally delivered to theaters as Farewell, My Lovely, the original title of Chandler's 1940 novel. But audiences in the areas of its original release (New England and Minneapolis) were put off by the title, mistook Farewell for another Powell musical and stayed away, leading RKO executives to rechristen the film Murder, My Sweet. Farewell, My Lovely had been filmed once previously, as The Falcon Takes Over (1942) - and was remade in 1975 under Chandler's original title with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe.

Although he didn't get a penny for the film -- he had sold the rights to RKO years earlier -- Chandler considered Murder, My Sweet the best screen version of his work. He even noted that the film's success had made him the best-selling author of hard-boiled detective stories, eclipsing Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon.

by Frank Miller & Felicia Feaster
Murder My Sweet: The Essentials

Murder My Sweet: The Essentials

SYNOPSIS: Detective Philip Marlowe is hired by ex-con Moose Malloy to find his vanished showgirl and lady friend Velma, who seems to have taken a permanent powder. A cynical knight operating by his own system of honor, Marlowe soon becomes embroiled in a scheme involving a stolen jade necklace owned by a gorgeous and flirtatious blonde, Helen Grayle, wife of the very rich Mr. Grayle. As Marlowe's involvement in all these shady dealings escalates, so does the danger. The detective's path intersects with Ann Grayle, the rich man's daughter, who is following her own secret agenda, and a group of thugs tied to the jewel theft, led by an aristocratic quack doctor, Amthor, who drugs and keeps Marlowe captive for days until the detective escapes to unravel the case. Director: Edward Dmytryk Producer: Adrian Scott Screenplay: John Paxton Based on the novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler Cinematography: Harry J. Wild Editing: Joseph Noriega Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Carroll Clark Music: Roy Webb Cast: Dick Powell (Philip Marlowe), Claire Trevor (Velma/Mrs. Grayle), Anne Shirley (Ann), Otto Kruger (Amthor), Mike Mazurki (Moose Malloy), Miles Mander (Mr. Grayle), Esther Howard (Mrs. Florian) BW-96m. Closed captioning. Why MURDER, MY SWEET is Essential Murder, My Sweet is considered one of the first film noirs and a key influence on shaping the genre in its use of low-key black and white photography, its convoluted mystery plot and its depiction of a tough, cynical detective thrown into a world of corruption. Its box-office success helped establish the genre in Hollywood, inspiring generations of tough-talking gumshoes. It was also the first film to feature Raymond Chandler's legendary private eye Philip Marlowe. Its success convinced Hollywood to try other adaptations of his novels, starting with The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Most critics consider Murder, My Sweet to be the most faithful in both plot and spirit to Chandler's original novel. A landmark film for both Dick Powell, who forever altered his choirboy image, and director Edward Dmytryk, who crossed-over from B-programmers like Captive Wild Woman (1943) to become a respected director of film noirs like Cornered (1945, which reunited Powell, producer Adrian Scott and screenwriter John Paxton) and Crossfire (1947). Murder, My Sweet was Dmytryk and Scott's first major success as a producing/directing team; unfortunately, both of them would see their careers ruined by the Hollywood blacklist within two years. Dmytryk initially balked at the notion of casting Powell as a tough guy. "The idea of the man who had sung "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" playing a tough private eye was beyond our imaginations," he noted of Powell. At the time, Powell's career had hit a creative dead-end and he was locked into that overgrown songster image. Anxious to break out of that stale typecasting, Powell had even campaigned for the featured tough-guy insurance agent role in Double Indemnity (1944), a role, ironically enough, awarded to the equally unlikely comedic actor Fred MacMurray. RKO's chief Charles Koerner wanted Powell under contract to star in his studio's musicals, but the only way Powell would agree to sign a contract was if he could play the lead in Murder, My Sweet as the first picture. Powell was not the only actor to resist typecasting in Murder, My Sweet. Anne Shirley and Claire Trevor both conspired to do a little acting-against-type of their own, and petitioned for the proverbial good girl Anne to play the scheming fatale and for Claire, used to playing molls and floozies, to play the "good and dull" (as Anne put it) nice girl. But to no avail: conventional typecasting was followed and the actresses delivered expected versions of their usual screen personas. Murder, My Sweet was originally delivered to theaters as Farewell, My Lovely, the original title of Chandler's 1940 novel. But audiences in the areas of its original release (New England and Minneapolis) were put off by the title, mistook Farewell for another Powell musical and stayed away, leading RKO executives to rechristen the film Murder, My Sweet. Farewell, My Lovely had been filmed once previously, as The Falcon Takes Over (1942) - and was remade in 1975 under Chandler's original title with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. Although he didn't get a penny for the film -- he had sold the rights to RKO years earlier -- Chandler considered Murder, My Sweet the best screen version of his work. He even noted that the film's success had made him the best-selling author of hard-boiled detective stories, eclipsing Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon. by Frank Miller & Felicia Feaster

Pop Culture 101: MURDER, MY SWEET


With the success of Murder, My Sweet, director Edward Dmytryk, producer Adrian Scott, writer John Paxton and Dick Powell would reunite the following year for another film noir, Cornered (1945).

With Raymond Chandler's new popularity on screen, 20th Century-Fox decided to do a new version of his The High Window, which they had filmed in 1943 as the Mike Shayne mystery Time to Kill, starring Lloyd Nolan. The new version, The Brasher Doubloon (1947), gave George Montgomery a shot at playing Marlowe.

Before that, Warner Bros. brought Chandler's The Big Sleep (1946) to the screen, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the leads. This time Chandler sold the rights to director Howard Hawks for $20,000, ten times what he had gotten for Farewell, My Lovely (Hawks then sold the rights to Warner's for $50,000).

Powell, Trevor and Mazurki repeated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre version of the film in 1945. Powell and Mazurki returned for a Hollywood Startime adaptation in 1948, with Mary Astor as leading lady.

The film's success brought Powell similar roles in two radio series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective and Rogue's Gallery.

Murder, My Sweet also inspired two different radio series, the short-lived Philip Marlowe in 1947, with Van Heflin, and the more successful The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, starring Gerald Mohr, from 1948-1951. In 1949, it was America's most popular radio series.

Powell would become the first actor to play Philip Marlowe on television, in a 1954 adaptation of The Long Goodbye for the series Climax. Other TV Marlowes included Philip Carey, in a short-lived ABC series; Powers Boothe, in a series of films for HBO; and James Caan in a later HBO movie.

One of television's most original Marlowes was African-American actor Danny Glover, who played the role in an episode of the Showtime series Fallen Angels in 1995. The performance brought him an Emmy nomination.

AVCO Embassy remade Chandler's novel in 1975 under the original title, Farewell, My Lovely. By then, the film was treated as a period picture. Robert Mitchum won solid reviews for his performance as an aging Philip Marlowe, with Charlotte Rampling as Velma, Jack O'Halloran as Moose, John Ireland and Harry Dean Stanton as the police detectives and Sylvia Miles winning an Oscar® nomination as the informant Jessie Florian. A follow-up based on The Big Sleep (1978) was less successful.

by Frank Miller

Pop Culture 101: MURDER, MY SWEET

With the success of Murder, My Sweet, director Edward Dmytryk, producer Adrian Scott, writer John Paxton and Dick Powell would reunite the following year for another film noir, Cornered (1945). With Raymond Chandler's new popularity on screen, 20th Century-Fox decided to do a new version of his The High Window, which they had filmed in 1943 as the Mike Shayne mystery Time to Kill, starring Lloyd Nolan. The new version, The Brasher Doubloon (1947), gave George Montgomery a shot at playing Marlowe. Before that, Warner Bros. brought Chandler's The Big Sleep (1946) to the screen, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the leads. This time Chandler sold the rights to director Howard Hawks for $20,000, ten times what he had gotten for Farewell, My Lovely (Hawks then sold the rights to Warner's for $50,000). Powell, Trevor and Mazurki repeated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre version of the film in 1945. Powell and Mazurki returned for a Hollywood Startime adaptation in 1948, with Mary Astor as leading lady. The film's success brought Powell similar roles in two radio series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective and Rogue's Gallery. Murder, My Sweet also inspired two different radio series, the short-lived Philip Marlowe in 1947, with Van Heflin, and the more successful The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, starring Gerald Mohr, from 1948-1951. In 1949, it was America's most popular radio series. Powell would become the first actor to play Philip Marlowe on television, in a 1954 adaptation of The Long Goodbye for the series Climax. Other TV Marlowes included Philip Carey, in a short-lived ABC series; Powers Boothe, in a series of films for HBO; and James Caan in a later HBO movie. One of television's most original Marlowes was African-American actor Danny Glover, who played the role in an episode of the Showtime series Fallen Angels in 1995. The performance brought him an Emmy nomination. AVCO Embassy remade Chandler's novel in 1975 under the original title, Farewell, My Lovely. By then, the film was treated as a period picture. Robert Mitchum won solid reviews for his performance as an aging Philip Marlowe, with Charlotte Rampling as Velma, Jack O'Halloran as Moose, John Ireland and Harry Dean Stanton as the police detectives and Sylvia Miles winning an Oscar® nomination as the informant Jessie Florian. A follow-up based on The Big Sleep (1978) was less successful. by Frank Miller

Trivia & Fun Stuff About MURDER, MY SWEET


Raymond Chandler originally intended to call his most famous character Philip Mallory. His wife convinced him to change the last name to Marlowe.

Farewell, My Lovely was actually an amalgam of two Marlowe stories: "Try the Girl" and "Mandarin Jade." The novel's working title was The Second Murderer.

When Dick Powell asked future wife, June Allyson, what she thought of the script for Murder, My Sweet, she said it was terrific. When he asked her if she thought he was right for the leading role, she warned him that he'd be a laughing stock in it.

One actor that director Edward Dmytryk wanted for the film sent the script back with the note, "Opened by mistake." The director was so insulted by his arrogance, he never offered him another role.

The first day of shooting was so rushed the wardrobe department was sewing Claire Trevor into her dress as they were setting up her first scene. They even forgot to call in a makeup woman, so Trevor had to apply makeup to her legs herself.

Powell entertained his co-stars between scenes by doing imitations of himself during his days as a singing juvenile.

Leading lady Anne Shirley wed the film's producer, Adrian Scott, a month before Murder, My Sweet opened. Shortly thereafter she retired from the screen. Murder, My Sweet would be her last picture.

For the film's British release, RKO restored the original title, Farewell, My Lovely.

Tag lines for the film included "Haunted by a lovely face...hunted for another's crime!" "A night of murder the police won't let him forget! The only key to his fate...a woman's face he can't remember!" and the succinct "Two-fisted, Hardboiled, Terrific!"

Famous Quotes from MURDER, MY SWEET

"The name is Moose. On account of I'm large. Moose Malloy." -- Mike Mazurki, as Moose Malloy, introducing himself to Dick Powell, as Philip Marlowe.

"She was a charming middle-aged lady with a face like a bucket of mud. I gave her a drink. She was a gal who'd take a drink, if she had to knock you down to get the bottle." -- Powell, as Philip Marlowe, describing Esther Howard, as Mrs. Florian.

"I'm afraid I don't like your manner."
"Yeah, I've had complaints about it, but it keeps getting worse." -- Douglas Walton, as Lindsay Marriott, trading quips with Powell, as Marlowe.

"How would you like a swift punch on the nose?"
"I tremble at the thought of such violence." -- Walton, as Lindsay Marriott, trying to threaten Powell.

"I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom. I felt pretty good -- like an amputated leg." -- Powell.

"He was doubled up on his face in that bag of old clothes position that always means the same thing. He had been killed by an amateur, or by somebody who wanted it to look like an amateur job. Nobody else would hit a man that many times with a sap." -- Powell, discovering Walton's body.

"You're not a detective, you're a slot machine. You'd slit your own throat for six bits plus tax!" -- Donald Douglas, as Lt. Randall.

"The cops always like to solve murders done with my gun." -- Powell.

"It was a nice little front yard, cozy, okay for the average family, only you'd need a compass to go to the mail box. The house was all right, too, but it wasn't as big as Buckingham Palace." -- Powell, describing the Grayles' mansion.

"He gave me a hundred bucks to take care of him, and I didn't. I'm just a small businessman in a very messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale." -- Powell.

"You've got a nice build for a detective."
"It gets me around." -- Claire Trevor, as Helen Grayle, flirting with Powell.

"My throat felt sore, but the fingers feeling it didn't feel anything. They were just a bunch of bananas that looked like fingers." -- Powell.

"'Okay Marlowe,' I said to myself. 'You're a tough guy. You've been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you're crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let's see you do something really tough - like putting your pants on.'" -- Powell.

"You shouldn't kiss a girl when you're wearing that gun... leaves a bruise!" -- Trevor, as Helen Grayle.

"She's hardly changed, only more fancy, cute as lace pants." -- Mazurki, as Moose Malloy, eulogizing Trevor, as Helen.

"Nulty... I haven't kissed anybody in a long time. Would it be all right if I kissed you, Nulty?" -- A blinded Powell, pretending he thinks Shirley, as Ann Grayle, is Paul Phillips, as Detective Nulty.

Compiled by Frank Miller

Trivia & Fun Stuff About MURDER, MY SWEET

Raymond Chandler originally intended to call his most famous character Philip Mallory. His wife convinced him to change the last name to Marlowe. Farewell, My Lovely was actually an amalgam of two Marlowe stories: "Try the Girl" and "Mandarin Jade." The novel's working title was The Second Murderer. When Dick Powell asked future wife, June Allyson, what she thought of the script for Murder, My Sweet, she said it was terrific. When he asked her if she thought he was right for the leading role, she warned him that he'd be a laughing stock in it. One actor that director Edward Dmytryk wanted for the film sent the script back with the note, "Opened by mistake." The director was so insulted by his arrogance, he never offered him another role. The first day of shooting was so rushed the wardrobe department was sewing Claire Trevor into her dress as they were setting up her first scene. They even forgot to call in a makeup woman, so Trevor had to apply makeup to her legs herself. Powell entertained his co-stars between scenes by doing imitations of himself during his days as a singing juvenile. Leading lady Anne Shirley wed the film's producer, Adrian Scott, a month before Murder, My Sweet opened. Shortly thereafter she retired from the screen. Murder, My Sweet would be her last picture. For the film's British release, RKO restored the original title, Farewell, My Lovely. Tag lines for the film included "Haunted by a lovely face...hunted for another's crime!" "A night of murder the police won't let him forget! The only key to his fate...a woman's face he can't remember!" and the succinct "Two-fisted, Hardboiled, Terrific!" Famous Quotes from MURDER, MY SWEET "The name is Moose. On account of I'm large. Moose Malloy." -- Mike Mazurki, as Moose Malloy, introducing himself to Dick Powell, as Philip Marlowe. "She was a charming middle-aged lady with a face like a bucket of mud. I gave her a drink. She was a gal who'd take a drink, if she had to knock you down to get the bottle." -- Powell, as Philip Marlowe, describing Esther Howard, as Mrs. Florian. "I'm afraid I don't like your manner." "Yeah, I've had complaints about it, but it keeps getting worse." -- Douglas Walton, as Lindsay Marriott, trading quips with Powell, as Marlowe. "How would you like a swift punch on the nose?" "I tremble at the thought of such violence." -- Walton, as Lindsay Marriott, trying to threaten Powell. "I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom. I felt pretty good -- like an amputated leg." -- Powell. "He was doubled up on his face in that bag of old clothes position that always means the same thing. He had been killed by an amateur, or by somebody who wanted it to look like an amateur job. Nobody else would hit a man that many times with a sap." -- Powell, discovering Walton's body. "You're not a detective, you're a slot machine. You'd slit your own throat for six bits plus tax!" -- Donald Douglas, as Lt. Randall. "The cops always like to solve murders done with my gun." -- Powell. "It was a nice little front yard, cozy, okay for the average family, only you'd need a compass to go to the mail box. The house was all right, too, but it wasn't as big as Buckingham Palace." -- Powell, describing the Grayles' mansion. "He gave me a hundred bucks to take care of him, and I didn't. I'm just a small businessman in a very messy business, but I like to follow through on a sale." -- Powell. "You've got a nice build for a detective." "It gets me around." -- Claire Trevor, as Helen Grayle, flirting with Powell. "My throat felt sore, but the fingers feeling it didn't feel anything. They were just a bunch of bananas that looked like fingers." -- Powell. "'Okay Marlowe,' I said to myself. 'You're a tough guy. You've been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you're crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let's see you do something really tough - like putting your pants on.'" -- Powell. "You shouldn't kiss a girl when you're wearing that gun... leaves a bruise!" -- Trevor, as Helen Grayle. "She's hardly changed, only more fancy, cute as lace pants." -- Mazurki, as Moose Malloy, eulogizing Trevor, as Helen. "Nulty... I haven't kissed anybody in a long time. Would it be all right if I kissed you, Nulty?" -- A blinded Powell, pretending he thinks Shirley, as Ann Grayle, is Paul Phillips, as Detective Nulty. Compiled by Frank Miller

The Big Idea


Raymond Chandler was an oil executive until the Depression put an end to his business career and forced him to return to his first love, writing. He polished his craft writing short stories for mystery magazines, including the legendary Black Mask Magazine in the '30s, where he introduced private eye Philip Marlowe in "Killer in the Rain." That story evolved into Chandler's first novel The Big Sleep, in 1939. Farewell, My Lovely, his second novel, appeared in 1940, but only sold about 2,900 copies.

RKO bought the rights to Farewell, My Lovely for just $2,000 because they needed material for their series of B-films about the society sleuth "The Falcon." They used the plot in the 1942 The Falcon Takes Over. In that version, George Sanders played detective (though as Gay Falcon rather than Philip Marlowe), with Ward Bond as Moose, Helen Gilbert as Velma and Turhan Bey as the phony psychic Amthor.

During World War II, sales of Chandler's books started to improve. By the end of the '40s, he estimated that Farewell, My Lovely had sold half a million copies.

Writer-turned-producer Adrian Scott came across the novel in RKO's files and thought a faithful film version would boost his career. Since the earlier version had made substantial changes and, in his opinion, left out the novel's best material, he had no qualms about asking for a re-make so soon after the earlier film. In fact, he sold the idea to RKO management by noting that they could film the novel almost exactly as written, thereby saving the costs of having a screenplay commissioned.

To work on the screenplay, Scott enlisted writer John Paxton, a former reporter and publicist he had known in New York. Director Edward Dmytryk had scored a big hit with RKO's low-budget Hitler's Children (1943) and was ready for a move into A-pictures.

Scott suggested writing the film as an extended flashback with Marlowe narrating, thereby maintaining the novel's first-person narrative.

The major change from the novel was in the creation of the Ann Grayle character. Originally, Ann was the daughter of an honest cop. Making her the femme fatale's stepdaughter gave the character more edge and made it clearer that, in true film noir tradition, the good and bad women were different sides of the same coin.

Another change Scott and screenwriter John Paxton made from the novel was the race of the murdered bar owner. In the original novel, he was black, which accounted for the police's derelict investigation of the crime. Making him white meant his scenes would not have to be cut in Southern states and also attributed the police's lack of interest in the crime to overall corruption rather than racism.

RKO president Charles Koerner took a chance on the production by giving Scott and Dmytryk a larger than usual budget - $400,000 - for this type of movie.

As they shaped the property, Scott and Dmytryk dreamed of casting Warner Bros. tough guy John Garfield as Marlowe.

With his career as a singer in musicals fading, Dick Powell was desperate for a change of image. He had signed with Paramount to star in the Preston Sturges comedy Christmas in July (1940), but the studio then stuck him in a series of increasingly threadbare musicals. When Paramount announced plans to film Double Indemnity (1944), with Chandler working on the screenplay, Powell campaigned to play the crooked insurance investigator, but director-writer Billy Wilder cast Fred MacMurray, another screen lightweight in need of a stronger image. Wilder thought he could get audiences past MacMurray's light comic image, but didn't think they would accept a singer like Powell in the tough-guy role

Koerner wanted to sign Powell for a string of musicals at RKO, but the former singer refused to come on board unless he got to play Philip Marlowe first. Inspired by MacMurray's success in Double Indemnity, Koerner agreed.

Tired with their typecasting as the bad girl and good girl, respectively, leading ladies Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley campaigned to switch roles, to no avail. As a consolation prize, Shirley demanded that her heiress character at least get to wear a mink coat, a bit of glamour missing from her usual run of working-class characters.

by Frank Miller

The Big Idea

Raymond Chandler was an oil executive until the Depression put an end to his business career and forced him to return to his first love, writing. He polished his craft writing short stories for mystery magazines, including the legendary Black Mask Magazine in the '30s, where he introduced private eye Philip Marlowe in "Killer in the Rain." That story evolved into Chandler's first novel The Big Sleep, in 1939. Farewell, My Lovely, his second novel, appeared in 1940, but only sold about 2,900 copies. RKO bought the rights to Farewell, My Lovely for just $2,000 because they needed material for their series of B-films about the society sleuth "The Falcon." They used the plot in the 1942 The Falcon Takes Over. In that version, George Sanders played detective (though as Gay Falcon rather than Philip Marlowe), with Ward Bond as Moose, Helen Gilbert as Velma and Turhan Bey as the phony psychic Amthor. During World War II, sales of Chandler's books started to improve. By the end of the '40s, he estimated that Farewell, My Lovely had sold half a million copies. Writer-turned-producer Adrian Scott came across the novel in RKO's files and thought a faithful film version would boost his career. Since the earlier version had made substantial changes and, in his opinion, left out the novel's best material, he had no qualms about asking for a re-make so soon after the earlier film. In fact, he sold the idea to RKO management by noting that they could film the novel almost exactly as written, thereby saving the costs of having a screenplay commissioned. To work on the screenplay, Scott enlisted writer John Paxton, a former reporter and publicist he had known in New York. Director Edward Dmytryk had scored a big hit with RKO's low-budget Hitler's Children (1943) and was ready for a move into A-pictures. Scott suggested writing the film as an extended flashback with Marlowe narrating, thereby maintaining the novel's first-person narrative. The major change from the novel was in the creation of the Ann Grayle character. Originally, Ann was the daughter of an honest cop. Making her the femme fatale's stepdaughter gave the character more edge and made it clearer that, in true film noir tradition, the good and bad women were different sides of the same coin. Another change Scott and screenwriter John Paxton made from the novel was the race of the murdered bar owner. In the original novel, he was black, which accounted for the police's derelict investigation of the crime. Making him white meant his scenes would not have to be cut in Southern states and also attributed the police's lack of interest in the crime to overall corruption rather than racism. RKO president Charles Koerner took a chance on the production by giving Scott and Dmytryk a larger than usual budget - $400,000 - for this type of movie. As they shaped the property, Scott and Dmytryk dreamed of casting Warner Bros. tough guy John Garfield as Marlowe. With his career as a singer in musicals fading, Dick Powell was desperate for a change of image. He had signed with Paramount to star in the Preston Sturges comedy Christmas in July (1940), but the studio then stuck him in a series of increasingly threadbare musicals. When Paramount announced plans to film Double Indemnity (1944), with Chandler working on the screenplay, Powell campaigned to play the crooked insurance investigator, but director-writer Billy Wilder cast Fred MacMurray, another screen lightweight in need of a stronger image. Wilder thought he could get audiences past MacMurray's light comic image, but didn't think they would accept a singer like Powell in the tough-guy role Koerner wanted to sign Powell for a string of musicals at RKO, but the former singer refused to come on board unless he got to play Philip Marlowe first. Inspired by MacMurray's success in Double Indemnity, Koerner agreed. Tired with their typecasting as the bad girl and good girl, respectively, leading ladies Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley campaigned to switch roles, to no avail. As a consolation prize, Shirley demanded that her heiress character at least get to wear a mink coat, a bit of glamour missing from her usual run of working-class characters. by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera


It was hard to get Mike Mazurki (Moose Malloy) to tower over Dick Powell, because the former singer stood 6' 2", with Mazurki only slightly taller at 6' 4 1/2". For many scenes, Powell had to stand in a trench.

For Mazurki's first appearance, reflected in the window of Powell's office, director Edward Dmytryk couldn't get the taller actor to appear large enough because the window was too far from the camera. Instead, he had a plate of glass placed between the camera and Marlowe's desk, then reflected Mazurki's image in that. On screen, the plate glass is undetectable, making the large reflection seem to be farther from the camera.

Another trick Dmytryk used to make Mazurki more threatening was having the sets built with slanted ceilings to force the perspective. As Mazurki walked closer to the camera, he seemed almost to grow.

For the scene in which Marlowe is drugged, Dmytryk showed Powell falling through a sea of faces. In this he borrowed a trick from Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) by having the camera pull back from the actor to make it seem he was falling. He had the camera accelerate as it pulled back, as well, to intensify the horror.

To protect his leading man in the final shoot out, when Marlowe dives for Grayle's gun only to have it go off right in front of his face, Dmytryk used the plate glass trick from the film's beginning to reflect the gunshot at a safe distance from Powell. Since Miles Mander had held the gun in his right hand in all other shots for that scene, he had to hold it in his left hand to disguise the reflection.

The film was shot under the book's title, but when it premiered in Minneapolis in December 1944, it bombed. Executives realized that the marquee "Dick Powell in Farewell, My Lovely" made the film look like a musical. When they changed the title, the picture became a hit.

With the success of Murder, My Sweet, RKO President Charles Koerner abandoned plans to star Powell in a series of musicals and cast him in more hard-boiled detective and action films instead.

by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera

It was hard to get Mike Mazurki (Moose Malloy) to tower over Dick Powell, because the former singer stood 6' 2", with Mazurki only slightly taller at 6' 4 1/2". For many scenes, Powell had to stand in a trench. For Mazurki's first appearance, reflected in the window of Powell's office, director Edward Dmytryk couldn't get the taller actor to appear large enough because the window was too far from the camera. Instead, he had a plate of glass placed between the camera and Marlowe's desk, then reflected Mazurki's image in that. On screen, the plate glass is undetectable, making the large reflection seem to be farther from the camera. Another trick Dmytryk used to make Mazurki more threatening was having the sets built with slanted ceilings to force the perspective. As Mazurki walked closer to the camera, he seemed almost to grow. For the scene in which Marlowe is drugged, Dmytryk showed Powell falling through a sea of faces. In this he borrowed a trick from Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) by having the camera pull back from the actor to make it seem he was falling. He had the camera accelerate as it pulled back, as well, to intensify the horror. To protect his leading man in the final shoot out, when Marlowe dives for Grayle's gun only to have it go off right in front of his face, Dmytryk used the plate glass trick from the film's beginning to reflect the gunshot at a safe distance from Powell. Since Miles Mander had held the gun in his right hand in all other shots for that scene, he had to hold it in his left hand to disguise the reflection. The film was shot under the book's title, but when it premiered in Minneapolis in December 1944, it bombed. Executives realized that the marquee "Dick Powell in Farewell, My Lovely" made the film look like a musical. When they changed the title, the picture became a hit. With the success of Murder, My Sweet, RKO President Charles Koerner abandoned plans to star Powell in a series of musicals and cast him in more hard-boiled detective and action films instead. by Frank Miller

The Critics Corner: MURDER, MY SWEET


This is a fine example of the American thriller - in its plot, its atmospheric photography and lighting, its brutality (both police and lovers'), and its theatrical touches and twists of plot. It is one of the best films in the genre - and one of Dmytryk's best." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films (University of California Press).

"A revolutionary crime film in that it was the first to depict the genuinely seedy milieu suggested by its author. One of the first film noirs of the mid-forties, a minor masterpiece of expressionist film making, and a total change of direction for a crooner who suddenly became a tough guy." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide (HarperPerennial).

"Picture is known for its seedy characters; hard-edged, hyperbolic dialogue and narration; dark, atmospheric photography by Harry J. Wild. But I think it's most significant because it is the one picture to fully exploit the nightmarish elements that are present in good film noir. Because our narrator, Marlowe, spends time recovering from being knocked out and, later, from drugs in his bloodstream, he never has a clear head; the dark, smoky world he walks through becomes increasingly surreal, indicating he is in a dream state." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Fireside).

"Murder, My Sweet, a taut thriller about a private detective enmeshed with a gang of blackmailers, is as smart as it is gripping. Ace direction and fine camera-work combine with a neat story and top performances. It should pay off plenty." -- Bron, Variety.

"A nasty, draggled bit of dirty work, accurately observed." -- C.A. Lejeune, the Observer.

"Fine adaptation of Chandler's novel....evocatively creating a seedy, sordid world of shifting loyalties and unseen evil...Powell is surprisingly good as Marlowe, certainly more faithful to the writer's conception than Bogart was in The Big Sleep [1946], while the supporting cast make the most of John Paxton's superb dialogue. And Harry Wild's chiaroscuro camerawork is the true stuff of noir." - Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Film Guide (Penguin).

"The movie is energetic enough, but its crumminess can't all be explained by fidelity to the material. Edward Dmytryk directed, in the brutal, fast style popular in the war years." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Company).

"The fully realized noir look first appears in Murder, My Sweet (1944), an echt-forties thriller which rarely gets it due because of the relative unpopularity of its director, Edward Dmytryk, and the miscalculation of casting Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe, a crooner playing a private eye, his dimples showing through the stubble." - Carlos Clarens, Crime Movies: An Illustrated History (W.W. Norton).
Murder, My Sweet has a visual quality that became characteristic of the period. Contrast is all important...Murder, My Sweet is also filled with a succession of grotesque characters that have little relation to the real world. They exist as icons or images of the twilight world of film noir. Ultimately, Murder, My Sweet is the archetype for a number of films made later." - Carl Macek & Ellen Keneshea, Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (The Overlook Press).

"Director Edward Dmytryk (Crossfire, 1947, The Caine Mutiny, 1954) masterfully employs all the genre staples -- deep shadows, swirling cigarette smoke, harsh lighting, and a constant aura of unease -- while adding his own creative, visually stunning touches, such as the recurring "black pool" that opens up and engulfs Marlowe whenever thugs render him unconscious. In addition, when the detective is injected with a cocktail of coma-inducing narcotics, Dmytryk takes us inside Marlowe's brain, using an expressionistic style to depict the disjointed and unsettling images the drugs inspire. Powell's detached narration throughout these scenes enhances the mood, while keeping the avant-garde touches within the story's framework." -- David Krauss, digitallyobsessed.com.

"Still packs a wallop." - Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide (Plume).

"Murder, My Sweet gave a Raymond Chandler story the combination of skinned knuckles and big-city sentience proper to it." - James Agee.

AWARDS & HONORS

Murder, My Sweet won the Mystery Writers of America's Best Motion Picture Award for 1945.

Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

The Critics Corner: MURDER, MY SWEET

This is a fine example of the American thriller - in its plot, its atmospheric photography and lighting, its brutality (both police and lovers'), and its theatrical touches and twists of plot. It is one of the best films in the genre - and one of Dmytryk's best." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films (University of California Press). "A revolutionary crime film in that it was the first to depict the genuinely seedy milieu suggested by its author. One of the first film noirs of the mid-forties, a minor masterpiece of expressionist film making, and a total change of direction for a crooner who suddenly became a tough guy." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide (HarperPerennial). "Picture is known for its seedy characters; hard-edged, hyperbolic dialogue and narration; dark, atmospheric photography by Harry J. Wild. But I think it's most significant because it is the one picture to fully exploit the nightmarish elements that are present in good film noir. Because our narrator, Marlowe, spends time recovering from being knocked out and, later, from drugs in his bloodstream, he never has a clear head; the dark, smoky world he walks through becomes increasingly surreal, indicating he is in a dream state." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Fireside). "Murder, My Sweet, a taut thriller about a private detective enmeshed with a gang of blackmailers, is as smart as it is gripping. Ace direction and fine camera-work combine with a neat story and top performances. It should pay off plenty." -- Bron, Variety. "A nasty, draggled bit of dirty work, accurately observed." -- C.A. Lejeune, the Observer. "Fine adaptation of Chandler's novel....evocatively creating a seedy, sordid world of shifting loyalties and unseen evil...Powell is surprisingly good as Marlowe, certainly more faithful to the writer's conception than Bogart was in The Big Sleep [1946], while the supporting cast make the most of John Paxton's superb dialogue. And Harry Wild's chiaroscuro camerawork is the true stuff of noir." - Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Film Guide (Penguin). "The movie is energetic enough, but its crumminess can't all be explained by fidelity to the material. Edward Dmytryk directed, in the brutal, fast style popular in the war years." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Company). "The fully realized noir look first appears in Murder, My Sweet (1944), an echt-forties thriller which rarely gets it due because of the relative unpopularity of its director, Edward Dmytryk, and the miscalculation of casting Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe, a crooner playing a private eye, his dimples showing through the stubble." - Carlos Clarens, Crime Movies: An Illustrated History (W.W. Norton).

Murder, My Sweet


In typical film noir fashion, Murder, My Sweet (1944) opens with a flashback as detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) sits beneath a police station's hot lamp and recounts the convoluted story of two women, a jade necklace and multiple murders.

Based on Raymond Chandler's quintessential pulp novel, Murder My Sweet features an unlikely Marlowe, 1930s Warner Bros. musical star Dick Powell, who is surprisingly effective as the jaded gumshoe. At the opening of the film, Marlowe is hired by ex-con and thick-headed palooka Moose Malloy (wrestler Mike Mazurki) to find his vanished showgirl and lady friend Velma, who seems to have taken a permanent powder.

A typically dense, labyrinthine Chandler yarn in The Big Sleep tradition, the plot thickens and Marlowe becomes embroiled in a scheme involving a stolen jade necklace owned by a gorgeous and flirtatious blonde, Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor), wife of the very rich Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander). Ann Grayle (Ann Shirley), a girl with a face "like a Sunday School picnic," is the rich man's daughter, who has her own investment in this rapidly complicated scenario. As Marlowe's involvement in all these shady dealings escalates, so does the danger. Marlowe's path intersects with a group of thugs tied to the jewel theft, led by an aristocratic quack doctor, Amthor (Otto Kruger), who drugs and keeps Marlowe captive for days in one of Murder, My Sweet's more sordid and memorable moments.

The hard-boiled dialogue flies by at an impressive clip in director Edward Dmytryk's slick, entertaining adaptation of Chandler's story. And the grubby atmosphere is equally compelling in this superior noir populated with disreputable characters of every stripe, from brain-damaged ex-cons to gold-digging wives and dipsomaniac floozies. Early on in his search for Velma, Marlowe encounters a washed-up, drunken woman who receives him in her bathrobe, just one of the many L.A. lowlifes he encounters in the seedy backstreets of the city. In usual hard-as-nails fashion, Marlowe sizes her up thusly: "she was a gal who'd take a drink. She'd knock you down to get the bottle."

A landmark film for both Powell, who forever altered his choirboy image, and director Dmytryk, who crossed-over from B-programmers like Captive Wild Woman (1943) to become a respected director of film noirs like Cornered (1945) (which reunited Powell, producer Adrian Scott and screenwriter John Paxton) and Crossfire (1947). Dmytryk initially balked at the notion of casting Powell as a tough guy. "The idea of the man who had sung "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" playing a tough private eye was beyond our imaginations," he noted of Powell. At the time, Powell's career had hit a creative dead-end and he was locked into that overgrown songster image. Anxious to break out of that stale typecasting, Powell had even campaigned for the featured tough-guy insurance agent role in Double Indemnity (1944), a role, ironically enough, awarded to the equally unlikely comedic actor Fred MacMurray. RKO's chief Charles Koerner wanted Powell under contract to star in his studio's musicals, but the only way Powell would agree to sign a contract was if he could play the lead in Murder, My Sweet as the first picture.

Powell was not the only actor to resist typecasting in Murder, My Sweet. Anne Shirley and Claire Trevor both conspired to do a little acting-against-type of their own, and petitioned for the proverbial good girl Anne to play the scheming fatale and for Claire, used to playing molls and floozies, to play the "good and dull" (as Anne put it) nice girl. But to no avail: conventional typecasting was followed and the actresses delivered expected versions of their usual screen personas.

Murder, My Sweet was originally delivered to theaters as Farewell, My Lovely, the original title of Chandler's 1940 novel. But audiences in the areas of its original release (New England and Minneapolis) were put off by the title, mistook Farewell for another Powell musical and stayed away, leading RKO executives to rechristen the film Murder, My Sweet.

Farewell, My Lovely had been filmed once previously, as The Falcon Takes Over (1942) - and was remade in 1975 under Chandler's original title with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. But Murder, My Sweet is still considered the penultimate version and is deeply indebted to Dmytryk's atmospheric lensing and improvisational touches. For example, the director had Powell walk in gutters or in his stocking feet in order to give the impression of Moose towering frighteningly over him (even though there was only a two-inch difference in Powell and Mazurki's actual heights). Powell's performance as the rumpled, unshaven and tough-talking Marlowe was equally crucial in establishing the dark and sinister tone of this unforgettably cynical film.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Producer: Adrian Scott
Screenplay: John Paxton, based on novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Production Design: Carroll Clark and Albert S. D'Agostino
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Dick Powell (Philip Marlowe), Claire Trevor (Velma/Helen Grayle), Anne Shirley (Ann Grayle), Otto Kruger (Amthor), Mike Mazurki (Moose Malloy), Miles Mander (Mr. Grayle).
BW-96m. Closed captioning.

by Felicia Feaster

Murder, My Sweet

In typical film noir fashion, Murder, My Sweet (1944) opens with a flashback as detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) sits beneath a police station's hot lamp and recounts the convoluted story of two women, a jade necklace and multiple murders. Based on Raymond Chandler's quintessential pulp novel, Murder My Sweet features an unlikely Marlowe, 1930s Warner Bros. musical star Dick Powell, who is surprisingly effective as the jaded gumshoe. At the opening of the film, Marlowe is hired by ex-con and thick-headed palooka Moose Malloy (wrestler Mike Mazurki) to find his vanished showgirl and lady friend Velma, who seems to have taken a permanent powder. A typically dense, labyrinthine Chandler yarn in The Big Sleep tradition, the plot thickens and Marlowe becomes embroiled in a scheme involving a stolen jade necklace owned by a gorgeous and flirtatious blonde, Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor), wife of the very rich Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander). Ann Grayle (Ann Shirley), a girl with a face "like a Sunday School picnic," is the rich man's daughter, who has her own investment in this rapidly complicated scenario. As Marlowe's involvement in all these shady dealings escalates, so does the danger. Marlowe's path intersects with a group of thugs tied to the jewel theft, led by an aristocratic quack doctor, Amthor (Otto Kruger), who drugs and keeps Marlowe captive for days in one of Murder, My Sweet's more sordid and memorable moments. The hard-boiled dialogue flies by at an impressive clip in director Edward Dmytryk's slick, entertaining adaptation of Chandler's story. And the grubby atmosphere is equally compelling in this superior noir populated with disreputable characters of every stripe, from brain-damaged ex-cons to gold-digging wives and dipsomaniac floozies. Early on in his search for Velma, Marlowe encounters a washed-up, drunken woman who receives him in her bathrobe, just one of the many L.A. lowlifes he encounters in the seedy backstreets of the city. In usual hard-as-nails fashion, Marlowe sizes her up thusly: "she was a gal who'd take a drink. She'd knock you down to get the bottle." A landmark film for both Powell, who forever altered his choirboy image, and director Dmytryk, who crossed-over from B-programmers like Captive Wild Woman (1943) to become a respected director of film noirs like Cornered (1945) (which reunited Powell, producer Adrian Scott and screenwriter John Paxton) and Crossfire (1947). Dmytryk initially balked at the notion of casting Powell as a tough guy. "The idea of the man who had sung "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" playing a tough private eye was beyond our imaginations," he noted of Powell. At the time, Powell's career had hit a creative dead-end and he was locked into that overgrown songster image. Anxious to break out of that stale typecasting, Powell had even campaigned for the featured tough-guy insurance agent role in Double Indemnity (1944), a role, ironically enough, awarded to the equally unlikely comedic actor Fred MacMurray. RKO's chief Charles Koerner wanted Powell under contract to star in his studio's musicals, but the only way Powell would agree to sign a contract was if he could play the lead in Murder, My Sweet as the first picture. Powell was not the only actor to resist typecasting in Murder, My Sweet. Anne Shirley and Claire Trevor both conspired to do a little acting-against-type of their own, and petitioned for the proverbial good girl Anne to play the scheming fatale and for Claire, used to playing molls and floozies, to play the "good and dull" (as Anne put it) nice girl. But to no avail: conventional typecasting was followed and the actresses delivered expected versions of their usual screen personas. Murder, My Sweet was originally delivered to theaters as Farewell, My Lovely, the original title of Chandler's 1940 novel. But audiences in the areas of its original release (New England and Minneapolis) were put off by the title, mistook Farewell for another Powell musical and stayed away, leading RKO executives to rechristen the film Murder, My Sweet. Farewell, My Lovely had been filmed once previously, as The Falcon Takes Over (1942) - and was remade in 1975 under Chandler's original title with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. But Murder, My Sweet is still considered the penultimate version and is deeply indebted to Dmytryk's atmospheric lensing and improvisational touches. For example, the director had Powell walk in gutters or in his stocking feet in order to give the impression of Moose towering frighteningly over him (even though there was only a two-inch difference in Powell and Mazurki's actual heights). Powell's performance as the rumpled, unshaven and tough-talking Marlowe was equally crucial in establishing the dark and sinister tone of this unforgettably cynical film. Director: Edward Dmytryk Producer: Adrian Scott Screenplay: John Paxton, based on novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler Cinematography: Harry J. Wild Production Design: Carroll Clark and Albert S. D'Agostino Music: Roy Webb Cast: Dick Powell (Philip Marlowe), Claire Trevor (Velma/Helen Grayle), Anne Shirley (Ann Grayle), Otto Kruger (Amthor), Mike Mazurki (Moose Malloy), Miles Mander (Mr. Grayle). BW-96m. Closed captioning. by Felicia Feaster

The Film Noir Collection - 5 Classics on DVD


Film noir is a style, a mood, an attitude - but not a genre. No one in the 1940s ever said, "Let's go make a film noir." (It has since become a genre, but today's "noirs" are something quite different.) Instead, the noir attitude set the tone for movies in a wide variety of genres in the '40s and '50s, many of which fell into the broad category of urban crime dramas - though there also exist noir westerns, women's films and even musicals. You won't find any westerns or musicals in Warner Home Video's new 5-disc set, but you will find five noir films that represent a mix of urban genres: the heist film (The Asphalt Jungle), the boxing picture (The Set-Up), the bank robber story (Gun Crazy), and the private-eye film (Murder, My Sweet and Out of the Past). What unites them are the feelings of oppression, confusion and fatalism created by intricate storylines and dazzling black-and-white lighting. They bring us into the underworld and in different, stylish ways make us feel very strongly what it's like to be there. Each picture is a truly great one, and all are presented here in good, clean prints. In fact, this is the rare multi-title set that contains not one dud.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950), with its tough, evocative dialogue and beautifully textured characters, hasn't aged a bit. It's pure noir, and one of the great heist films of all time. A superb cast including Sam Jaffe, Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern and James Whitmore plans a jewel robbery in methodical detail, and then we watch in methodical detail as it goes awry and each man meets his fate. John Huston, Oscar®-nominated for script and direction, brings much more to it that that, however, making us feel the alienation of the characters in a hostile world. It's a tour de force for all involved. Marilyn Monroe, in one of her earliest screen appearances, is sinewy and sensual, and a good deal of this effect is thanks to the way Huston positions her in the frame, dresses her, and lights her. As USC film professor Drew Casper points out in his commentary track, it's a type of glamour and sex appeal that is distinctly post-WWII and distinctly MGM. In fact, it may be the only thing that's distinctly MGM about the entire picture! MGM was never a studio associated with dark crime dramas and shadowy lighting, though it did produce a few noirs - more, in fact, than most people remember, such as Border Incident (1949), Force of Evil (1948), Side Street (1949), and Undercurrent (1946).

Murder, My Sweet (1945) takes a few minutes of getting used to if all you've ever seen Dick Powell do is sing and dance. Here, he plays Philip Marlowe. Yes, that Philip Marlowe. Powell is tough and hard-boiled as Chandler's famous detective, and he pulls it off extremely well, delivering brilliantly sarcastic dialogue with confidence. Chandler himself called Powell his favorite screen Marlowe. Every scene is set at night, making Murder, My Sweet one of the expressionistic archetypes of the noir style. Director Edward Dmytryk would make two more important noirs soon thereafter: Cornered (1945) and Crossfire (1947).

The Set-Up (1949), with a script based on a long narrative poem, is one of the great boxing films in an era in which there were many, such as the noir Body and Soul (1947) and the marginally noir Champion (1949). Told in real time, the 72-minute film is also set entirely at night, and rarely has a film captured a sense of fatalism and doom as strongly as this one. Robert Ryan plays Stoker, an over-the-hill, so-so fighter who is determined to win one big fight on his way out. What he doesn't know at first is that the fight has been fixed, and not in his favor; if he doesn't play along, he will suffer severely afterwards. Ryan got the part because he was the only actor under contract at RKO who had actually been a boxer (in college), and he is superb as always - not just in the fight scenes, which are brutally realistic, but in sequences which call on his gift for expressing deep vulnerability. Audrey Totter as his girlfriend is equally effective and turns in one of the best performances of her career. This was one of Robert Wise's early credits as director, and his previous career as an editor is on great display throughout, especially in a memorable sequence where Totter stands on an overpass watching buses drive underneath.

Gun Crazy (1950) is one of the best B-films of all time. Director Joseph Lewis's low-budget masterpiece is a model of economy and style, never more evident than in the famous one-shot bank robbery sequence filmed from the back seat of a car. It's a shot - and a sequence - unlike anything else of the time. John Dall and Peggy Cummins are a Bonnie and Clyde-type couple who "go together like guns and ammunition," and the linking of sexuality and violence gives Gun Crazy a unique and fascinating edge.

All four of these films are wonderful, but my personal favorite has to be Out of the Past (1947), which is finally making its debut on DVD. The quintessential private detective film noir and one of the greatest movies ever to come out of the Hollywood studio system, it just gets better with repeated viewings. It's the kind of movie one thinks of when "film noir" is mentioned. It has a tough antihero in Robert Mitchum, a classic femme fatale in luscious Jane Greer, a meshing of sex and violence, hardboiled dialogue, stunning black and white lighting, and a confusing storyline complete with a flashback set in a world of mobsters. It all comes together to create a strong fatalistic sense that these characters are doomed and they're going down in a dark, ominous world. It's also a layered and poetic picture, visually and emotionally. Jacques Tourneur, who started out directing low-budget Val Lewton horror films like Cat People, brought this type of style to most of the films he made, and Out of the Past is certainly his greatest. Mitchum and Greer are at their peaks, Kirk Douglas is enjoyable in just his second film, and the movie is pure pleasure.

Warner Home Video has delivered these pictures in exceptional transfers with little wear. The Set-Up in particular looks a lot better than its TV airings have looked over the years, and the rich shadows of Murder My Sweet and Out of the Past are well-served by the DVD medium. Each disc comes with a commentary track by a film historian except for The Set-Up, which has commentary from Robert Wise and Martin Scorsese, a huge fan of the film. Their comments were recorded separately, and the track jumps back and forth between the two. 89-year-old Wise unfortunately offers little that is insightful, but Scorsese is riveting, speaking of the "hyper-naturalism" of the movie and excitedly describing it as "compact and tough and lean, like a fighter. You feel the immediacy of what's happening." He goes on to explain how The Set-Up influenced his own Raging Bull (1980), and the visual similarities are indeed startling. The Asphalt Jungle's commentary also includes archival oral interviews with star James Whitmore, who was Oscar®-nominated and whose comments are articulate, thoughtful, and definitely worth a listen. Other extras are a couple of trailers and John Huston delivering a brief intro to The Asphalt Jungle.

For more information about the Film Noir Classic Collection, visit Warner Video. To order the Film Noir Classic Collection, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeremy Arnold

The Film Noir Collection - 5 Classics on DVD

Film noir is a style, a mood, an attitude - but not a genre. No one in the 1940s ever said, "Let's go make a film noir." (It has since become a genre, but today's "noirs" are something quite different.) Instead, the noir attitude set the tone for movies in a wide variety of genres in the '40s and '50s, many of which fell into the broad category of urban crime dramas - though there also exist noir westerns, women's films and even musicals. You won't find any westerns or musicals in Warner Home Video's new 5-disc set, but you will find five noir films that represent a mix of urban genres: the heist film (The Asphalt Jungle), the boxing picture (The Set-Up), the bank robber story (Gun Crazy), and the private-eye film (Murder, My Sweet and Out of the Past). What unites them are the feelings of oppression, confusion and fatalism created by intricate storylines and dazzling black-and-white lighting. They bring us into the underworld and in different, stylish ways make us feel very strongly what it's like to be there. Each picture is a truly great one, and all are presented here in good, clean prints. In fact, this is the rare multi-title set that contains not one dud. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), with its tough, evocative dialogue and beautifully textured characters, hasn't aged a bit. It's pure noir, and one of the great heist films of all time. A superb cast including Sam Jaffe, Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern and James Whitmore plans a jewel robbery in methodical detail, and then we watch in methodical detail as it goes awry and each man meets his fate. John Huston, Oscar®-nominated for script and direction, brings much more to it that that, however, making us feel the alienation of the characters in a hostile world. It's a tour de force for all involved. Marilyn Monroe, in one of her earliest screen appearances, is sinewy and sensual, and a good deal of this effect is thanks to the way Huston positions her in the frame, dresses her, and lights her. As USC film professor Drew Casper points out in his commentary track, it's a type of glamour and sex appeal that is distinctly post-WWII and distinctly MGM. In fact, it may be the only thing that's distinctly MGM about the entire picture! MGM was never a studio associated with dark crime dramas and shadowy lighting, though it did produce a few noirs - more, in fact, than most people remember, such as Border Incident (1949), Force of Evil (1948), Side Street (1949), and Undercurrent (1946). Murder, My Sweet (1945) takes a few minutes of getting used to if all you've ever seen Dick Powell do is sing and dance. Here, he plays Philip Marlowe. Yes, that Philip Marlowe. Powell is tough and hard-boiled as Chandler's famous detective, and he pulls it off extremely well, delivering brilliantly sarcastic dialogue with confidence. Chandler himself called Powell his favorite screen Marlowe. Every scene is set at night, making Murder, My Sweet one of the expressionistic archetypes of the noir style. Director Edward Dmytryk would make two more important noirs soon thereafter: Cornered (1945) and Crossfire (1947). The Set-Up (1949), with a script based on a long narrative poem, is one of the great boxing films in an era in which there were many, such as the noir Body and Soul (1947) and the marginally noir Champion (1949). Told in real time, the 72-minute film is also set entirely at night, and rarely has a film captured a sense of fatalism and doom as strongly as this one. Robert Ryan plays Stoker, an over-the-hill, so-so fighter who is determined to win one big fight on his way out. What he doesn't know at first is that the fight has been fixed, and not in his favor; if he doesn't play along, he will suffer severely afterwards. Ryan got the part because he was the only actor under contract at RKO who had actually been a boxer (in college), and he is superb as always - not just in the fight scenes, which are brutally realistic, but in sequences which call on his gift for expressing deep vulnerability. Audrey Totter as his girlfriend is equally effective and turns in one of the best performances of her career. This was one of Robert Wise's early credits as director, and his previous career as an editor is on great display throughout, especially in a memorable sequence where Totter stands on an overpass watching buses drive underneath. Gun Crazy (1950) is one of the best B-films of all time. Director Joseph Lewis's low-budget masterpiece is a model of economy and style, never more evident than in the famous one-shot bank robbery sequence filmed from the back seat of a car. It's a shot - and a sequence - unlike anything else of the time. John Dall and Peggy Cummins are a Bonnie and Clyde-type couple who "go together like guns and ammunition," and the linking of sexuality and violence gives Gun Crazy a unique and fascinating edge. All four of these films are wonderful, but my personal favorite has to be Out of the Past (1947), which is finally making its debut on DVD. The quintessential private detective film noir and one of the greatest movies ever to come out of the Hollywood studio system, it just gets better with repeated viewings. It's the kind of movie one thinks of when "film noir" is mentioned. It has a tough antihero in Robert Mitchum, a classic femme fatale in luscious Jane Greer, a meshing of sex and violence, hardboiled dialogue, stunning black and white lighting, and a confusing storyline complete with a flashback set in a world of mobsters. It all comes together to create a strong fatalistic sense that these characters are doomed and they're going down in a dark, ominous world. It's also a layered and poetic picture, visually and emotionally. Jacques Tourneur, who started out directing low-budget Val Lewton horror films like Cat People, brought this type of style to most of the films he made, and Out of the Past is certainly his greatest. Mitchum and Greer are at their peaks, Kirk Douglas is enjoyable in just his second film, and the movie is pure pleasure. Warner Home Video has delivered these pictures in exceptional transfers with little wear. The Set-Up in particular looks a lot better than its TV airings have looked over the years, and the rich shadows of Murder My Sweet and Out of the Past are well-served by the DVD medium. Each disc comes with a commentary track by a film historian except for The Set-Up, which has commentary from Robert Wise and Martin Scorsese, a huge fan of the film. Their comments were recorded separately, and the track jumps back and forth between the two. 89-year-old Wise unfortunately offers little that is insightful, but Scorsese is riveting, speaking of the "hyper-naturalism" of the movie and excitedly describing it as "compact and tough and lean, like a fighter. You feel the immediacy of what's happening." He goes on to explain how The Set-Up influenced his own Raging Bull (1980), and the visual similarities are indeed startling. The Asphalt Jungle's commentary also includes archival oral interviews with star James Whitmore, who was Oscar®-nominated and whose comments are articulate, thoughtful, and definitely worth a listen. Other extras are a couple of trailers and John Huston delivering a brief intro to The Asphalt Jungle. For more information about the Film Noir Classic Collection, visit Warner Video. To order the Film Noir Classic Collection, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

"'Okay Marlowe,' I said to myself. 'You're a tough guy. You've been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you're crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let's see you do something really tough - like putting your pants on.'"
- Philip Marlowe
"I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom."
- Philip Marlowe
"My fingers looked like a bunch of bananas."
- Philip Marlowe
She was a charming middle-aged lady with a face like a bucket of mud. I gave her a drink. She was a gal who'd take a drink, if she had to knock you down to get the bottle.
- Philip Marlowe
It was a nice little front yard. Cozy, okay for the average family. Only you'd need a compass to go to the mailbox. The house was alright, too, but it wasn't as big as Buckingham Palace.
- Philip Marlowe

Trivia

Notes

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.