Marlowe (1969)

Marlowe (1969)

“Does your mother know what you do for a living?”

While searching for the missing brother (Roger Newman) of a young woman (Sharon Farrell), private detective Philip Marlowe (James Garner) stumbles onto a blackmailing plot involving compromising photos of a television star (Gayle Hunnicutt).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Blackmail
  • Bruce Lee Films
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • James Garner Films
  • Search

This updated version of Raymond Chandler’s 1949 novel The Little Sister is polished but not all that memorable. While James Garner (always a pleasure to watch) is appropriately gritty and handsome as famed detective Philip Marlowe, ultimately his performance (unlike that of, say, Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe in 1946’s The Big Sleep) fails to leave much of a lasting impression.

Meanwhile, the dense storyline — despite featuring a couple of clever plot twists at the end — is needlessly confusing, and introduces far too many supporting characters whose importance is either lost (after two viewings, I still don’t have a clue what Paul Stevens’ enigmatic Dr. Lagardie has to do with anything) or given short shrift (Carroll O’Connor as an embittered police lieutenant, Bruce Lee as a martial arts-wielding henchman, and Rita Moreno as Hunnicutt’s “old friend” all deserve better development). Ultimately, this one’s only must-see viewing for Chandler aficionados.

Note: This was Lee’s first appearance in a Hollywood movie, and his presence is noteworthy — but his second (final) scene in the film is inexplicably insulting to his talents.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Rita Moreno as Dolores

Must See?
No, though Chandler fans will likely be curious to check it out.


One thought on “Marlowe (1969)

  1. First viewing. Not a must.

    The biggest ‘sin’ here is that it comes off like a made-for-tv movie; there’s precious little that says ‘cinema’. So, basically, it’s hard to get beyond that. Real ffs can tend to get real impatient with faux-cinema.

    Garner is indeed handsome (ok, I’ll say it: yum). And I’ve only read one Chandler novel – ‘The Long Goodbye’; dynamite – but I didn’t have the impression that Marlowe’s looks needed to be anything other than scruffy and nondescript. (Not that I have an argument with ‘handsome’…)

    Having started late in life, Chandler didn’t really write all that much. And his relationship with Hollywood was an odd one (tho he did work on ‘Strangers on a Train’, ‘Double Indemnity’, and wrote ‘The Blue Dahlia’). I’d have to go back and review how Chandler’s work fared overall on-screen.

    But Hawks’ ‘The Big Sleep’ may be the best of them. (Having seen it recently, I know Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’ disappoints.)

    What I do know for sure is I intend to read lots more of Chandler.

    I can’t think that his fans would think much of ‘Marlowe’.

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