Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
One-time movie crooner Dick Powell literally turned his career around in the 1944 film noir Murder My Sweet. Powell stars as Phillip Marlowe, the hard-boiled private detective antihero created by novelist Raymond Chandler. Hired by hulking, psychotic Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki) to locate Moose's old girl friend, Marlowe is pitched headlong into a morass of intrigue and deception. The participants include duplicitous glamour-girl Claire Trevor, sodden slattern Esther Howard, suave blackmailer Otto Kruger and dyspeptic doctor Ralf Harolde. At one point, Marlowe is railroaded into a lunatic asylum, where under the influence of drugs he experiences a surrealistic nightmare the like of which would not be seen on screen again until Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958). So fascinating are the "bad" characters in Murder My Sweet that the two 100% "good" characters, heroine Anne Shirley and detective Don Douglas, seem wishy-washy wimps by comparison. After years of insipid golly-gee roles, Dick Powell startled his fans with his cynical, world-weary portrayal of Philip Marlowe. The part put him back on top of the box-office tallies and enabled him to extend his acting career into the 1950s, which led to an even more lucrative "third life" as a powerful TV-studio executive. Murder My Sweet was based on Chandler's Farewell My Lovely, previously filmed in 1942 as The Falcon Takes Over; a remake, Farewell, My Lovely, was produced in 1975, with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. … More
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as Philip Marlowe
as Ann Grayle
as Mrs. Grayle
as Moose Malloy
as Mr. Grayle
as Lt. Randall
as Lt. Randall
as Dr. Sonderborg
as Mrs. Florian
as Elevator Operator
as The Boss
as Taxi Driver
as Det. Nulty
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Critic Reviews for Murder, My Sweet
Treats us to some savory snatches of dialogue in the best noir tradition.
Audience Reviews for Murder, My Sweet
Slightly uneven but pretty damn good.
Dick Powell is not quite a revelation but he's certainly no slouch either as Marlowe.
A private eye is hired by an ex-con to find his old girlfriend but gets sidetracked when a man who hires him as a bodyguard is murdered for a precious jade necklace. Murder My Sweet is one of those Noirs that ticks ALL the boxes. I must admit that I prefer Bogart's more mercenary and intense Marlowe but Dick Powell's more jaunty approach still works, especially when teamed up with Claire Trevor's deliciously amoral femme fatale. The script stays faithful to Chandler's hard boiled dialogue and there are also some really nice directorial touches in the vein of Hitchcock, notably during the scenes when a drug addled Marlowe escapes from the clutches of an insidious doctor and the cinematography pretty much wrote the book for every Noir that followed. It takes a little concentration to keep track of all the balls Marlowe has to keep in the air, but it's a satisfying mystery that oozes classic style. Not in the same league as The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep, but one of the standards nevertheless.
A hard-nosed private detective named Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) gets hired for a pair of seemingly disparate simple jobs only to find himself in the middle of murder and intrigue. One case involve finding the missing girlfriend of a big, giant gorilla named Moose (Mike Mazurki), who's been away in the joint only to come back and find her gone without a trace. Marlowe doubts the veracity of this relationship but tracks down the girl's former boss anyway (well, former boss' wife). The second job comes from a guy named Mariott (Douglas Walton) and involves accompanying him to a drop-off location with some money, in order to pick up a jade necklace that had been stolen from Mariott's lady friend. But who stole the necklace? For that matter, who owns it? Marlowe gets it from all sides, including a quack psychiatrist who administers hypodermic needles full of who-knows-what.
Dick Powell may have been a strange choice for Philip Marlowe: most of his films up until that point had been song-and-dance numbers, and he was known more for romantic comedies than tough and grizzled detectives. Perhaps that's why his performance has an air of comedy behind the tough guy persona. Whatever the case, it's the John Paxton script and Edard Dmytryk direction that wring the pulp from the original Raymond Chandler novel. The plot is thick and complex, and I'm not even really sure if all the loose ends get wrapped up in the end, but I don't think that's the point. It's the strange case, the journey, the style that all add up to something dynamic and amazing.
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