“You’ll do anything for six bits.”
Set in Los Angeles in 1941, this moody film noir adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel includes a weary Phillip Marlowe played by 57-year old Robert Mitchum. Mitchum’s Marlowe is perfection itself, and Mitchum’s usual laconic style also includes a tired, patient acceptance of the general wickedness of human nature. Dick Powell played Marlowe in the 1944 version titled Murder My Sweet. Watch the two back-to-back, and you will appreciate Mitchum’s style. Farewell My Lovely is Mitchum’s film.
Private Detective Marlowe is hired for a seemingly hopeless quest by an ex-con (named Moose) for his long-lost girlfriend, Velma. Marlowe seems to be humouring Moose more than anything else, but the quest for Velma leads Marlowe through some sleazy LA spots, and of course, there’s a trail of dead bodies along the way. The film oozes with the idea that people somehow wash up in seedy corners of LA. There’s Mrs. Florian (Sylvia Miles), for example, a woman whose alcohol-soaked memories may include some vital information, and there’s a bordello madam who’s big and mean enough to make all her girls behave. It’s not an easy task to produce a film in the mid 70s that smacks of the 40s, but Farewell My Lovely carries off the ambience of the time. My favourite line … “I was having some Chinese food when a dark shadow fell over my Chop Suey.” From director Dick Richards.