Friday, March 9, 2012

MURDER, MY SWEET: Tough Guys Don’t Sing

The hard-boiled 1944 mystery Murder, My Sweet (MMS) forever changed the career of its star Dick Powell (not to be confused with William Powell from my recent After the Thin Man post). Arkansas native Powell began his career as a singer with Charlie Davis’s orchestra before Hollywood grabbed him, eventually steering Powell’s career path from juvenile crooners in such musicals as 42nd Street, Dames, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Flirtation Walk (read Classic Filmboy’s post about it here!) to hard-boiled detectives, ex-cons trying to resume their lives only to find themselves in deeper trouble, and other noble tough guys in such suspense thrillers as Cornered (1945), Johnny O’Clock (1947), Cry Danger, and The Tall Target (both 1951). (Dick Powell did some nifty comedies, too, but that’s a blog post for another time.)

Although Howard Hawks’ film version of The Big Sleep (1946) is still my favorite adaptation of author Raymond Chandler’s novels about the tough yet noble L.A. private detective Philip Marlowe, MMS is a darn close second. How close? Thisclose! I like Powell’s portrayal of Marlowe as a noble and essentially decent man, insouciant yet soulful, and nobody’s fool. In certain ways, it seems to me that in Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of Marlowe in The Big Sleep, he has a better shot at getting the best of the bad guys, as well as getting the girls (especially in a Hawks film!), though his heart eventually belonged to Lauren Bacall’s Vivian Rutledge. In MMS, by contrast, Powell’s Marlowe comes across to me as a likable, determined underdog who keeps on pitching without losing his wry sense of humor.
Dick Powell witnesses film history as Claire Trevor
performs film noir's first facepalm!
When I think about Powell’s metamorphosis from crooner to tough guy, I’m reminded of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, of all thingsspecifically the scene where Christopher Hewett, as director/choreographer Roger DeBris, complains about the creative rut he’s been in: “Dopey showgirls in gooey gowns! Two-three-KICK-turn, turn-turn-KICK-turn! It’s enough to make you puke.” Well, Powell was equally eager to change his image! Come to think of it, after MMS, he had another hit in Cornered (1945) as a Canadian Royal Air Force veteran, foiling hidden Nazis and avenging the death of his French war bride. But I digress….

Despite the doubts voiced by Powell’s fiancée June Allyson, he was determined to go out for hard-boiled roles. No doubt Powell also realized that at the age of 40, he was a tad long in the tooth to play a juvenile anything. But Powell jumped right in, looking for the right role. For starters, he seemed to be the only leading man in Hollywood eager to tackle the role of antihero Walter Neff in Double Indemnity, bless him! But Double Indemnity was a Paramount production, and Powell was under contract to RKO, so Powell had to wait until MMS to repurpose himself as a big-screen tough guy. It was well worth the wait, as Powell turned out to be one of the finest actors to play Philip Marlowe. Even June Allyson approved of the finished product! (Powell and Allyson wed and had a long, happy marriage until his death in 1963 from complications of the cancer the entire cast eventually suffered after filming The Conquerer. But that, too, is a story for another time.) For more about the fascinating life and times of Dick Powell, click this link to Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings and her awesome birthday salute from last November!

Marlowe goes “grouse-hunting,”
and finds out it’s Moose season!
Director Edward Dmytryk (The Falcon Strikes Back, The Caine Mutiny, Mirage, and more) and Director of Photography Harry J. Wild (Oscar-nominee Army Girl, His Kind of Woman, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) truly captures the moody visuals and emotions. The opening credits are noir all the way, with cops sweating our man Marlowe — not that Marlowe can see them, since his eyes are heavily bandaged, for reasons that will become clear later. Is this what they mean by blind justice? Well, at least with the bandages, Marlowe won’t get smoke in his eyes. The story is told primarily in flashback, but the script by screenwriter John Paxton (who, in addition to MMS, wrote Cornered; Fourteen Hours; The Wild One; Crack-Up; How to Murder a Rich Uncle; and On the Beach) is tight, suspenseful, and brimming with great dialogue that does Chandler’s source material proud.

Guilt’s written all over Lindsay Marriott’s face—and coat!
Marlowe starts out with two clients. The first one is a mountain of a man, Moose Malloy (wrestler-turned-actor Mike Mazurki), fresh out of jail and determined to find his long-missing girl Velma Valento. There’s been an awful lot of water under that bridge since Moose was in the jug, but he’s a persistent guy, to say the least. Marlowe’s second client is Lindsay Marriott (Douglas Walton, whose films included The Count of Monte Cristo; the 1935 version of Mutiny on the Bounty; The Picture of Dorian Gray—no relation!—and Bride of Frankenstein, playing Percy Shelley!). A foppish fellow, Marriott hires Marlowe to accompany him to a woodsy “petting spot” (complete with a deer for petting, but the critter scrams when danger rears its head) in order to get a valuable trinket belonging to an unspecified lady friend. Instead, Marlowe is knocked unconscious by an unknown party, in classic film noir style:

“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.

Our man Marlowe wakes up to find Marriott beaten to death in the car, and a young woman shining a flashlight in his face, asking if he’s all right. Clearly the pretty young interrogator was expecting someone else, because she hightails it outta there but quick! Marlowe wants to get to the bottom of this: “I’d like to know who, besides me, might have killed Marriott. He gave me one hundred dollars 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.” Soon Marlowe is up to his eyeballs in violence and suspense, wrapped in a case involving:
  • A missing jade necklace valuable enough to kill for;
  • Kidnapping Marlowe, including drugging him to keep him quiet or make him talk, as needed;
  • Lewin Lockridge Grayle (Miles Mander in a poignant performance), the rich, elderly jade expert who really owns the missing jade necklace;
  • Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger), a distinguished-looking gent who airily admits, “I am in a very sensitive profession, Mr. Marlowe. I am a quack. Which is to say, I’m ahead of my time in the field of psychic treatment.”
  • Romance with two very different women: the wholesomely lovely Ann Grayle (Anne Shirley), and Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor), the hot “big league blonde” stepmother who Ann loathes and Grayle loves practically to the point of obsession.
The coaster is clear!
Every performance is perfect, for my money. Mike Mazurki was one of film noir’s most memorable tough guys, and he and Powell play off against each other well. Ironically, the filmmakers made the already-tall Mazurki look even more intimidating, thanks to the magic of forced perspective. But don’t let Mazurki’s fearsome looks fool you; he was a Manhattan College grad and a witty conversationalist. Compassionate, too: in the 1960s, Mazurki founded the “Cauliflower Alley Club,” a non-profit organization that awarded scholarships and financial assistance to retired or injured wrestlers and their families.

In their TCM Web site articles, Frank Miller & Felicia Feaster noted that Powell wasn’t the only actor to chafe against typecasting in MMS: “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…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.” Personally, I thought Shirley and Trevor were perfect in their roles—a classic case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What’s wrong with playing to your strengths?

The great supporting cast includes Otto Kruger (Saboteur, Hitler’s Children, Wonder Man) as smooth, sinister quack Jules Amthor, who also has a racket in which pretty boys like the late Mr. Marriott take pretty women like Helen Grayle dancing and driving only to become hold-up victims, not taking lives. But Marriott’s death changes things, as our man Marlowe later explains to Police Lieutenant Randall (Don Douglas):
“Amthor’s a tough cookie. He works some kind of complicated (psychological) routine on gals with broken-down libidos. I think Marriott was his contact man…The jewelry Marriott was supposed to be buying back was a jade necklace belonging to one of Amthor’s patients, worth about one hundred thousand dollars. Marriott might have been crossing up Amthor, I don’t know. Anyway, he fumbled the ball…Amthor figured I must’ve picked it up. He figured wrong; I disappointed him. I didn’t have the jewelry, and I didn’t talk. But he has a little rest home where you learn to talk. It’s operated by a guy who calls himself Dr. Sonderborg. He’s a whiz with a hypo. He’s at 23rd and Descanso.”
I bet Marlowe wishes he was in that romantic Spellbound door-opening scene instead of
Dr. Sonderborg's House of Horrors! Where’s Ingrid Bergman when you need her?
The nightmare montage in which Marlowe is drugged and tormented is worth the price of admission in itself, with truly compelling imagery courtesy of F/X whiz Vernon L. Walker and Douglas Travers. Interestingly, some of MMS imagery brings to mind Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, which came out sometime around that same year. However, I believe MMS came out first, and I’d go so far as to say it’s markedly more sinister (appropriately so), though I love both films.

At Florian’s, they don’t care what Semisonic sings;
it ain’t closing time until Moose says so!
Chandler’s original 1940 novel was actually titled Farewell, My Lovely, and that was its title in its initial theatrical release in New England and Minneapolis. But to those audiences, Farewell, My Lovely sounded like just another one of those sappy musicals that Powell was trying to leave behind. So it was farewell to the lovely original title, and a hearty hello to the gripping new title. In addition to Powell’s tough new screen image, the resulting smash hit revitalized Powell’s career big-time as he eventually added producer and director to his formidable list of accomplishments.

This particular Chandler tale was filmed three times over the years, and its first version wasn’t even a Philip Marlowe movie! The novel was first adapted into an entry in the Falcon series in 1942, namely The Falcon Takes Over, starring Suave Hall of Famer George Sanders. They plugged the plot of Farewell... into one of Michael Arlen’s Falcon adventures, packing as many of the characters as possible into its 65-minute running time. Heck of a cast, too: Ward Bond as Moose Malloy; Team B. fave Hans Conreid as Lindsay Marriott; and Turhan Bey as Jules Amthor! I’ve only seen it in bits and pieces, and I’d love to catch up with the whole film sometime. MMS was the next version of Chandler’s story. I also loved the third version, Dick Richards’ 1975 remake of Farewell, My Lovely with the great Robert Mitchum at his world-weary, sleepy-eyed best, and Sylvia Miles was deservedly nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Jessie Florian. (I saw it in our local bijou when I was 12; I forget whether I saw it with my mom or my older brother Peter, but to this day I’ve never forgotten the film itself!) Maybe I need to do another blog post sometime comparing all the different versions of the film!

 I dress up, I dress down...
Chandler had sold the MMS movie rights to RKO years before, and he considered it the best film version of his work—high praise indeed, considering the ornery Chandler had been difficult to work with in later years while adapting scripts with Billy Wilder for Witness for the Prosecution and Alfred Hitchcock for Strangers on a Train. Anyway, getting back to Chandler’s good side, he was delighted to note that MMS’ success had helped to make him a best-selling author, even outselling the hard-boiled mysteries of competitor Dashiell Hammett. In fact, Powell played Marlowe again in 1954, this time for a TV adaptation of The Long Goodbye for the anthology series Climax!
Many of Powell’s noir films were written and/or produced by New Jersey native Adrian Scott, including the Oscar-nominated drama Crossfire; the aforementioned Cornered; Mr. Lucky; The Boy with Green Hair; and Deadline at Dawn. For a while, it was something of a family affair when Scott married MMS co-star Anne Shirley shortly before MMS was released. Unfortunately, both Scott and Dmytryk were blacklisted as two of the Hollywood 10, which didn’t do the marriage any good. Indeed, Shirley eventually left Scott with a “Dear John” letter. That said, Shirley ended up having a long, happy marriage to screenwriter Charles Lederer, whose many scripts included The Thing from Another World (1951) and Kiss of Death. Although Scott’s blacklisting kept him from working under his own name in Hollywood at that time, he still wrote as a front for the British television series The Adventures of Robin Hood with his second wife, Joan LaCour.

I'll show RKO I can too play slinky film noir dames!
Native New Yorker Anne Shirley had been born Dawn Evelyeen Paris in Manhattan. Little Dawn’s father died while she was still a baby. Money was tight, but Dawn’s photogenic cuteness soon became her family’s bread and butter. At the age of 16 months, the little tyke was working as a photographer's model under various names, particularly “Dawn O’Day.” As she grew into a lovely, wholesome-looking young lady of five-foot-two, auditions began for the 1934 film version of author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved novel Anne of Green Gables (also one of my dear late mom’s favorites). Dawn won the title of spunky, spirited Anne over hundreds of young aspirants, and she officially became Anne Shirley—literally, when she changed her name to that of the beloved character she played. Hey, it worked for future Oscar-winner Gig Young (formerly Byron Barr) in The Gay Sisters (1942)! A few years later, Shirley earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the role of Barbara Stanwyck’s daughter in the classic 1937 tear-jerker Stella Dallas. Shirley’s many other roles included Anne of Windy Poplars, the 1940 sequel to Anne of Green Gables; and The Devil and Daniel Webster, which won an Best Score Oscar for one of my favorite movie music composers, Bernard Herrmann, under the title All That Money Can Buy.

Moose thinks the price of cab rides is un-fare!
Anne Shirley wasn’t the only native New Yorker in the MMS cast: Claire Trevor came from the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. Her star rose after her Oscar-nominated performance in Dead End (1937) and John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939).  According to Dawn Sample of Noir and Chick Flicks, Trevor’s Bad Girl With A Heart Of Gold roles eventually earned her the title “Queen of Film Noir,” playing even more dangerous dames in films like Born to Kill (1947). Trevor had been working for years at 20th Century-Fox, but in Robert Osborne’s intro to a TCM broadcast of MMS, he revealed that at the time Trevor was cast in MMS, she was freelancing, making only one or two films a year, including Johnny Angel (1945) and Crack-Up (1946). Trevor was only 5-foot-1 in her stocking feet (again with petite people!), but her powerhouse presence made her bigger than life during her long, award-winning career, which also included her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Key Largo (1948) and her Emmy for the Producers’ Showcase telecast of Dodsworth (1956), as well as another Oscar nomination, this time for The High and the Mighty (1954). Anyone here know if any enterprising casting directors ever put Trevor, Alan Ladd, and/or Veronica Lake in the same movie? Now there’s a flick I’d like to see! But I digress…

In addition to being Dick Powell’s wildly successful transition from All Singing! All Dancing! All Comedy! movie roles, MMS also happened to be the first-ever movie in which Chandler’s iconic Marlowe was portrayed on the silver screen! In fact, according to the TCM Web site, MMS came out even before The Big Sleep, and it’s considered to be the most faithful to both the plot and the spirit of Chandler’s original novel. I wouldn’t be surprised if the success of MMS got my man Howard Hawks thinking “Hey, we could totally do a flick like that!” or words to that effect.

Aw, so romantic! Does that mean love really is blind?


  1. Powell did himself a huge favor by playing Marlowe. He got away from those boyish roles and moved into more mature roles after Murder, My Sweet. While Anne Shirley is my favorite part of the film, it was nice to see Powell finally show some acting chops. He is perhaps the most unusual Marlowe, but he did a nice job of making the role his own.

    1. Kim, glad to have you kick off the MURDER, MY SWEET conversation! I've always liked Dick Powell's blend of insouciant humor and toughness, and I wholeheartedly agree with you that Powell put his own unique stamp on the character.

    2. Dorian, loved your post! Especially as it focuses on one of my favorite actors. (Thank you *very* much for the link to my Powell birthday tribute!)

      I've found it interesting going back to Powell's earlier work in musicals and looking for glimpses of his later characters. I thought SHIPMATES FOREVER in particular points the way to the more mature roles he would play in the '40s and '50s. It's an excellent performance.

      An additional bit of background -- Claire Trevor married a very wealthy man here in Orange County and was quite a philanthropist. The Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine, is named for her.

      Best wishes,

      Best wishes,

    3. Laura, thanks for your enthusiastic praise of my MURDER, MY SWEET post, and you're most welcome regarding the link to Dick Powell's birthday blog post! LAURA'S MISCELLANEOUS MUSINGS is one of my favorite blogs, so I'm happy we could work together to spread the awesomeness that is Dick Powell! :-)

      I haven't seen SHIPMATES FOREVER, but now you have me interested in keeping an eye out for it. And I was happy to hear that Claire Trevor ended up a great philanthropist in addition to the wonderful actress we already knew she was! Thanks again, Laura!

  2. I really like this film Powell does a great job . I also love the remake directed by Dick Richards with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe with one of the best scores David Shire ever composed.Dick really did a great job of getting the 1940's LA vibe Even some of the voice over is the same in both films. This is really a color noir, and shooting in So Cal in the 70's wasn't easy, but with the the exception of one small shot(I'll never tell because I know were he shot it) he pulls it off. Hey I got to love a film where a young Sly Stalone buys the farm before the fourth reel.
    Powell became a darn good director, working with Robert Mitchum in two films. The Enemy Below, and The Hunters.

  3. Paul 2, I'm glad -- though not surprised -- that you enjoyed both MURDER, MY SWEET and the excellent remake FAREWELL, MY LOVELY as much as I did! I remember seeing young Sylvester Stallone as one of the bad guys when I saw it as a kid in its theatrical release, and he made an impression on me even then, long before ROCKY vaulted him to stardom. Thanks for your fascinating facts about the making of FAREWELL..., too! Drop by and join the conversation anytime!

  4. Hey, gang, I got a nice e-mail from Ruth Kerr! She's been trying to post comments here at TotED, but like so many others, she's had trouble posting because Blogger has been so darn temperamental. Therefore, I'm posting Ruth's comments here:

    "Hi Dorian TB,

    Just wanted to say I'm a big fan of your blog, but I always have trouble commenting on Blogger posts for some reason.

    Anyway, wanted to say that although I give up trying to comment on your posts, I think you do a great job. And I never knew Dick Powell was eager to play the Fred McMurray role in "Double Indemnity". He would've been really good in that role!

    Take care,
    Ruth Kerr"

    Thanks for your kind words, Ruth, and please don't give up; feel free to e-mail me anytime Blogger comes a cropper!

  5. Dorian, fun post on this wonderful movie. I enjoyed all your background info and love your insert of Marlowe striking the match on the statue's rump. Mazurki sure is intimidating here. Have you seen him as The Strangler in Night and the City? Yikes. MMS has such terrific use of voice-over. This is easily my favorite Dick Powell film.

    1. readerman, I'm glad you enjoyed my MURDER, MY SWEET post -- many thanks! Dick Powell's performance as Philip Marlowe is my favorite among his many excellent performances, too; his voice-overs are worth the price of admission (so to speak :-)) all by themselves. My hubby Vinnie is the computer whiz and GIF-Master in the family, and he thanks you for your praise of his work! :-) I must admit that NIGHT IN THE CITY is one of those films I keep meaning to catch up with; thanks for the reminder! Feel free to join in the conversations here at TotED anytime!

  6. Wonderful post on this film, which I haven't seen in a while but I remember liking quite a bit. Powell was a likable actor, and this indeed stretched his range and gave new dimension to his career. And thanks for the shout-out to my "Flirtation Walk" review :)

    1. CFB, I'm delighted that you enjoyed my MURDER, MY SWEET post -- thanks for that, and for kindly letting me play in your garden by including the link to your entertaining post about FLIRTATION WALK! Dick Powell was one of the most likable film noir heroes as well as turning out to have true range as an actor. You're welcome here at TotED anytime!

  7. I loved your description of MMS as your second favorite: "MMS is a darn close second. How close? Thisclose!" Dick Powell was just perfect in MMS. Comparing his looks and manner to his role in 42nd Street as the juvenile crooner, he was wise to go with the more hard-boiled roles. He still looked great, but definitely had to go opposite direction from the earlier films. MMS is a favorite of mine, and your thorough background material and humor made for fascinating reading. Great job, Dorian!

    1. Becky, thanks a million for your positive feedback on my MURDER, MY SWEET post! I'm tickled that you're an MMS fan, too! I'm glad you enjoyed my fun facts about MMS. The research takes time, but it's part of the fun for me. Glad you got a kick out of my "Thisclose!" gag! Boy, did Dick Powell's decision to go hard-boiled pay off, or what? Here's to going with your gut! :-)

  8. Dorian, very nice review of MURDER, MY SWEET. I'm glad it's your second favorite Marlowe adaptation...because it's my fave! Humphrey was just too gruff around the edges to suit my vision of Marlowe. Dick Powell was cynical and rough, but not gruff. I got to meet Dmytryk in the 1970s when he gave a talk at my college. He signed his entry in my copy of THE FILMGOER'S COMPANION. I asked a question about MMS, but everyone else in the audience seemed to be the most interested in CROSSFIRE.

  9. Rick, how cool that you got to meet director Edward Dmytryk, and got him to autograph your copy of THE FILMGOER'S COMPANION as well! While I stand by my opinion of Humphrey Bogart being my favorite Marlowe and Dick Powell being my THISCLOSE second, you make an excellent case that part of the appeal of Powell's Marlowe was his ability to come across as rough and ready without being unpleasantly gruff around the edges. Thanks so much for your praise of my MMS post; I always look forward to and appreciate your comments!

  10. Dorian, great point differentiating between Bogart and Powell's Phillip Marlowe. Powell's Marlowe does have more of a wry sense of humor that Bogie's version lacks. I do favor Bogart over Powell and all others, though Robert Mitchum who played Marlowe in both remakes of THE BIG SLEEP and FAREWELL, MY LOVELY had that tired, beat, don't give a damn look that fits Marlowe so well. James Garner did a nice turn as Chandler's detective in MARLOWE from the novel THE LITTLE SISTER. Mike Mazurski is a great character actor and as you say, he's perfect here as Moose Malloy, one of Chandler's best characters. He added a nice touch to many films and I was totally unaware of his charity work.

    Your passion for this film comes through loud and clear. A thoroughly enjoyable and well done review!


    1. John, thanks very much for your enthusiastic praise and terrific comments about MURDER, MY SWEET! Looks like we're on the same page about the various Marlowe performances. I think if I had to pick my favorite movie Marlowes (though they're all fine, make no mistake), the list would go like this:

      1.) Humphrey Bogart, THE BIG SLEEP
      2.) Dick Powell, MURDER, MY SWEET
      3.) Robert Mitchum, FAREWELL, MY LOVELY (I love his world-weary quality!)
      4.) James Garner, MARLOWE

      Mike Mazurki is definitely one of Team Bartilucci's favorite character actors. He did it all, from film noir to comedy (including The Monkees)!

      Thanks for joining the conversation, John; it's always fun to have you visit TotED!

  11. Now I have to admit, Dorian, that I haven't seen this film in many MANY years and the only thing I actually do remember about it is Mike Mazurki - a hard guy to forget.

    So I will definitely be re-watching this especially after your glowing tribute. Okay, I admit that Dick Powell is not my favorite actor, but hey, I'm willing to put up with him if his performance is as good as you say it is. Definitely.

    I like some of the pix you showed, the lettering running over the foppish guy is especially intriguing.

    I think Dick Powell was a very smart guy to walk away from that often creepy juvenile he played for Busby Berkeley. Do you remember his tv show? I think it was called Dick Powell Presents or something like that. Good dramas every week. How I wish they had something like this on tv now.

    P.S. Didn't they redo this story with James Garner as Marlowe? All I remember about that one is Rita Moreno - boy is she good.

    Thanks again, m'dear, for reminding me of a movie from the past that I'd forgotten.

  12. Yvette, I agree -- you couldn't forget Mike Mazurki if you tried! :-) When you get a chance to see Dick Powell in MURDER, MY SWEET, I think you'll be quite impressed.

    I also agree that Powell chose the right time to ditch his juvenile crooner phase (loved your "creepy" description!) and not only go for tough-guy roles, but also other serious film roles like in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. Powell also had smashing successes as both actor and producer on TV with THE DICK POWELL THEATER, FOUR STAR PLAYHOUSE, and ZANE GREY THEATRE

    Actually, Yvette, you're close: MARLOWE (1969) was James Garner's Raymond Chandler movie, based on THE LITTLE SISTER. I agree, Rita Moreno was awesome in that one! If you want to refresh your memory about it, or give everyone else reading this a nice blast from the past, here's the link (I should have money like I have links! :-))!

    Apparently THE BRASHER DOUBLOON is on YouTube, but I've just been too busy to catch up with it yet! :-) Hope I can do so soon!

    Delighted to have you join the conversation, my friend, as always! The light's always on for you here at TotED! :-)

  13. Dorian,
    This film sat on my DVR for a few weeks then I finally watched it a week ago. I had mixed feelings about it as I had recently seen Robert Montgomery playing Phillip Marlowe and I really enjoyed his character representation a lot.

    Now that doesn't take away from the fact that I enjoyed seeing Powell do a serious role other than all of his musicals! (BLECH)

    It's great that you wrote about this as I was talking to my dad on Saturday about what was airing on TCM and I brought up Phillip Marlowe, asked if he had seen any of the film series. I recently found The Saint films too which I really loved since George Sanders is the best!

    You've done another fantastic and detailed review here Dorian. I got a good chuckle out of your little clip with Dick lighting the match. Fun stuff!

    Looking forward to what you have up next. Hopefully I'll get lucky and it will be another one I've seen.

  14. Page, beaucoup thanks for your kind words, my friend! I'm happy to hear you and your dad are Philip Marlowe fans, and apparently fans of George Sanders as The Saint, too; clearly your mom and dad raised you right! :-)

    Since you asked, my next TotED blog post will start on March 23rd with dueling Fritz Lang thrillers; specifically a smackdown between THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW vs. SCARLET STREET! The credit for the idea goes to our friend and fellow blogger, Kristina Dijan of SPEAKEASY. I hope everyone will enjoy it, and while you're at it, check out the SPEAKEASY Web site and all its goodies:

    Glad to have you joining in the conversation, Page, as always!

  15. I'm pretty sure I saw "Farewell My Lovely" starring Mitchum, but this Noir version with Dick Powell sounds intriguing. Your comment that Chandler was ornery made me wonder if his hotel bill was too high when he wrote the character 'Marriott' who got bumped off?

    1. Eve, I loved and your quip about Raymond Chandler and the "Marriott" hotel bill! You're a wit, girl! :-) All kidding aside, I think you'd enjoy both FAREWELL, MY LOVELY and MURDER, MY SWEET; its wry humor is one of my favorite things about it! Thanks for joining the chat!

  16. Oh, great news that THE BRASHER DOUBLOON is on youtube. Hopefully the whole movie?? I hate to admit it because everyone stares as if I'm nuts, but I liked George Montgomery's portrayal of Marlowe in that one. Can't help it, he was just so good-looking....sigh!

    Thanks for lettine me know, Dorian. Yippee!

    I'm adding MURDER MY SWEET to my queue IF Netflix has it available.

    1. Glad to spread the word about THE BRASHER DOUBLOON, Yvette! I haven't had a chance to give it my undivided attention on YouTube yet, but as you've probably noticed about me by now, I can be quite a completist when I'm resarching movies! :-) And of course, MURDER, MY SWEET is always well worth watching!

  17. Congratulations on a grand article about a grand movie. "Murder, My Sweet" embodies all that I love about private eye/film noir. I saw it early in life, and I've seen it often. Powell is my Marlowe. That he had a way with a witty throwaway line was evident even in the Warner Bros. musicals and it was a wise career move.

    Thanks for the info on Mike Mazurki. I'll astound my husband with my knowledge some day soon.

    I'm crazy about Esther Howard as Mrs. Florian. "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." Why does that line come to me when I look in the mirror?

    1. Caftan Woman, you're far too adorable and charming to have "a face like a bucket of mud," so there! :-) Esther Howard sure was a terrific character actress, wasn't she? I also liked her in the film noir BORN TO KILL (also with MMS' Claire Trevor), and she also had a bit in SONG OF THE THIN MAN, among others.

      I liked your remark about Dick Powell being your Marlowe; we all seem to fall in love with whatever actor we first saw playing Marlowe (see our dear friend and fellow blogger Yvette's comments above). For me, it was Humphrey Bogart, though I always kinda liked Robert Montgomery, too, even if he did come off a little cranky at times! :-) But as you've seen, Powell's mighty high on my Favorite Marlowe list; I can't resist detectives who can be funny and tough with equal ease! So glad you dropped by to join the conversation, C.W.; the TotED door is always open for you! :-)

    2. I wonder if one's "first Marlowe" is sort of along the lines of one's "first Dr. Who"? :) (There are even t-shirts that say "You never forget your first Doctor," LOL.)

      This is a great conversation I've enjoyed going back and revisiting as posts have been added!

      Best wishes,

    3. Thanks, Laura! I feel the same way; you never forget your first Marlowe, just as you never forget your first Doctor! :-) I've mentioned that Team Bartilucci is into Doctor Who, haven't I? Vinnie in particular has been a fan of the show since he was a youngster, and he often writes about all things Doctor Who online over at Newsarama.

      I always enjoy the conversations all of us have here at TotED, but I think our MURDER, MY SWEET chat may be one of my favorites to date! Thanks, Laura, and everyone else participating here with so many fascinating things to share!

  18. Esther Howard was one of my first blogging subjects: I used to use per picture as my blogging profile. Not as Mrs. Florian though.

  19. Caftan Woman, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful blog post about Esther Howard! Glad to see there was much more to her than Mrs. Florian, not that there's anything wrong with that! :-) Sometimes learning about character actors is even more interesting than learning about the big stars! I left you positive comments over at your own awesome self-titled blog. Great post, C.W.!

    1. *D-OH!* I meant to leave the link to your blog post so that everyone could enjoy your terrific Esther Howard piece, but I hit "Send" too fast! Sorry about that! Here's the link, for those who didn't catch it:


  20. sorry so late to this party, but it's a party nonetheless!
    you really did your usual great job in ths one, being a huge background info junkie myself I love all the stuff you include, bio roundups, and so forth but must make special mention this time of visuals:
    nice gif! i LOL'd, and the stills you chose really hilight what neat shots are in this movie: that "grouse/moose" pic is amazing, should be framed and on a wall, preferably mine. That alone makes me want to rewatch.
    like so many musical stars who made the transition, Powell was a great noir guy, he just had that perfect coolly cynical devastatingly acidic edge to him that made for a FANTASTIC Marlowe IMO, and my #1 for that character, sorry!notsorry.
    I too love me some Mazurki. Him & Nat Pendleton always make me happy for some reason.

    oh, and one further +1 from me, on you someday doing a post comparing versions! would be cool.
    well done, applause & bestest

    1. Kristina, it's never too late to party with us here at TotED! Beaucoup thanks for your enthusiastic praise of the background info, my fellow background-info junkie! :-) As always, my dear hubby Vinnie Bartilucci has generously provided another one of his hilarious GIFs, and we're both delighted you and other readers are enjoying them, as well as the photos! You're right, that "grouse/moose" pic would make for a great poster; thanks for the tip, you clever gal!

      As if you didn't have stupendous taste in noir films and their elements already, now we find that you're a fan of Nat Pendleton as well as Mike Mazurki! Vinnie's a big Pendleton fan, too, considering he also happens to be a wrestling fan born in Canada; he calls it "soap opera for guys." :-) (Fun Fact: Dick Powell played a Canadian flyer in CORNERED, another one of the noir thrillers he made with producer Adrian Scott and director Edward Dmytryk.)

      Kristina, I'd be delighted to work on a Marlowe Parade blog post sometime in the not-too-distant future (goodness knows I have enough info on the subject after all these Marlowe movies!) -- but first, I must finish writing the WOMAN IN THE WINDOW vs. SCARLET STREET Smackdown for this Friday's new TotED! :-) I always look forward to your great posts and ideas! Thanks for your fun conversation, kind words, and great ideas!

      By the way, everyone, y'all can also enjoy Vin's blogging fun and frolic also appear in his own great blogs, THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD FANBOY and our joint blog IS THAT REALLY DESIRABLE? Check them out on the links on the right-hand column of "Further Distractions"! :-)

  21. Moose Malloy's first appearance in Murder, My Sweet is incredibly creepy and very memorable. Great shot shooting up of Moose beating up on Marlowe, with Jules Amthor looking on later in this film. Wish I'd known about Mike Mazurki when he appeared in Dick Tracy in 1990.

  22. Reel Popcorn Junkie, thanks for your positive comments on MURDER, MY SWEET! Moose Malloy is one of my absolute favorites among my rogues' gallery of memorable movie tough guys, be they good guys or bad guys. Glad to have a movie lover from the Great White North, as my husband was born in Canada (Prince Edward Island, to be specific). Feel free to join the movie conversation here at TotED anytime!