Dick Powell doesn’t quite have the narration patter down of a hard-boiled private investigator, especially not for the one he’s playing, Philip Marlowe, still, this is a great little film-noir bringing another incarnation of Raymond Chandler’s iconic character to the silver screen. And he handles the actual dialogue with his co-stars well, it’s just the voice-overs that cause him some grief.
Murder, My Sweet is on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of 1955’s Kiss Me Deadly for DK Canada’s exemplary The Movie Book.
Murders, betrayals, dames, deceit, cops, thugs, bribes, stolen jewels, and ulterior motives, all come into play in this fairly solid example of the film-noir.
Marlowe is hired by a giant of a brute, who goes by the name Moose (Mike Mazurki), who wants the private dick to find his girl, Velma. He’s been away, in prison for eight years, and hadn’t heard from her in six.
As he starts to investigate other cases begin to dovetail together, including a missing jade necklace belonging to dangerous femme fatale, Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor). She’s wily, attractive, and can manipulate everyone around her.
No one can be trusted, no one tells the truth, even Marlowe, when he’s grilled by the police about the film’s events.
It’s a clean looking movie, isn’t quite as gritty as it should be, and despite the trappings, it does have a kind of Hollywood happy ending.
The story is tightly woven, this isn’t one that you can wander in and out of the room for, you have to pay attention to the story threads, the dialogue, what’s said, or not, and how the characters interact.
There are a slew of actors who have played the role of Marlowe, but for me, it will always be Bogart. So no matter who takes on the role they are going to have that to deal with.
Having said that, Powell’s onscreen performance is solid, but as mentioned his voice-over of the typical hard-boiled detective (it was raining in the city by the bay, a hard rain, a rain that would – you know that kind of thing) just doesn’t have it.
But, everything else works, it’s entertaining, and filled with so many oh-so-devious characters. Which is something I really enjoy about film-noir, the lines between right and wrong are grey, there is always something more going on, and it pays to expect the worst of people in films like this.
The Movie Book from DK Books continue to entertain and delight, and I cannot wait to see what comes my way next! Make sure you pick one up for yourself, and find something amazing to watch tonight.