“We have a nasty little motto around here: every man has his price.”
Private eye Philip Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) is hired by the editor-in-chief (Audrey Totter) of a publishing house to locate the missing wife (Ellay Mort) of her boss (Leon Ames).
Robert Montgomery’s directorial debut was this decidedly unique attempt to film a Raymond Chandler novel from the perspective of the narrator (Marlowe) — a trick which is widely agreed to not have been all that successful. Indeed, it’s somewhat astonishing how clumsy and distracting this approach is — it’s pretty much impossible to forget about the presence of a camera when being forced to look at the world through the perspective of one. Perhaps due to logistical constraints, far too many scenes are static, simply showing Marlowe’s conversation partners talking into the camera, most of them over-emoting without subtlety. (Faring particularly poorly is Jayne Meadows as Mildred Haveland, a landlady whose nerves appear to be merely skin-deep.) The storyline is standard private eye fare, with shady women, belligerent police, a tanned lothario (Dick Simmons), fistfights, and plenty of secret identities — but it’s hard to remember much about this flick once it’s done other than the highly experimental way in which it was filmed.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A unique directorial approach
No, though of course it’s worth a look as a curio. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.