Farewell, My Lovely
Robert Mitchum's first take as Raymond Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe.
Silly, but yet sincere. Mitchum embodies Marlowe as a washed-up old dog, a detective who has definitely seen better, brighter days and who in-between legitimate capers chases down runaway schoolgirls whose parents want them out of nightclubs and off the dance floors. There is a kind of incidental poetry to the cheapness of this film that seems to reflect the dime store novel origins of Chandler's character. Too often the world of noir collides with high-minded (social) melodrama -- the result can be good or it can be bad, but the result is almost always disingenuous (or unnatural). Even if FAREWELL, MY LOVELY isn't the best film or the best Chandler film adaptation, it works if only because it seems honest, as if the director is allowing the work to unfold and be true to its origin rather than to craft it into something more deliberately thematic and driven by an artist's vision. Overall, it reads as pragmatic directorial gesture.
I preferred Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe here in Dick Richards' film to that portrayed by Elliott Gould in Robert Altman's 1973 The Long Goodbye. He sounded and carried himself in the way I thought fitted the little I know of Philip Marlowe's character. The story itself was pretty silly but made a entertaining 90 minutes with everything you'd expect from a film set in 1940s Los Angeles involving a down-at-heel private eye and lots of villains (both in and out of the police force),
Gritty and occasionally grim, but like all Chandler adaptations, only as good as its Marlowe (Mitchum's got the wit and the stature to pull it off pretty nicely). O'Halloran's Moose Malloy is menacing and the world of 1940s L.A. is well-felt. Its real shining star, however, is how reminiscent of yesteryear the mise-en-scene is. Richards gives the film a double authenticity, making it move like a film released during the time period in which it unfolds.
Not good. Robert Mitchum is too old for many of the parts and the narration, while fun at times is mostly too over the top. Almost more of a parody of a film noir than a real one. Still, Mitchum's charisma does sneak out every once in a while. He can be awesome.
Truly outstanding detective mystery, no doubt produced in answer to the previous year's hit "Chinatown." The mystery itself is riveting because the producers chose to stick close to the original novel. Robert Mitchum's performance effortlessly transports us back to the noir days of Bogart and Huston. I wanted to applaud but I was alone in my home theater.