BluRay/DVD Reviews

MARLOWE

By • May 10th, 2011 •

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Director Paul Bogart was generally a TV guy, and his weakness with the theatrical film medium shows here, though without disastrous results – he was just much more appropriate to the small screen. So we don’t have a classic here, but we do have a fun film, do in part to the rapid pacing, as our protagonist stumbles from one beating to the next while trying to figure out the mystery, and in part to the assembled cast – James pre-Rockford Files Garner, Carroll pre-All In the Family O’Connor, Bruce pre-Bruce Lee Lee, Rita Moreno, William Daniels, and a host of other fun cameos, all of them delivering enjoyable interpretations of their roles.

This is a Raymond Chandler book adapted for the screen, with Philip Marlowe, the titular character, getting involved deeper and deeper in a case that at first seems trite and unimportant. A detective story it is, a film noir it is not, despite having many of the necessary ingredients – an honest detective in a morally bankrupt world, a femme fatale, hard-boiled dialogue, quirky characters, etc. In the end it’s just too light-hearted for the cynical world of Noir. It’s more like what the original 1931 MALTESE FALCON was to John Huston’s 1941 remake. One’s froth, the other’s Noir. Any of these actors could have found their Noir footing if asked – but Bogart, the visionary at the helm, kept it outside the genre.

On the other hand, everyone I know – and I mean everyone – is thrilled with Bruce Lee’s two memorable scenes. For a long time his destruction of Marlowe’s office had become aural history, a myth left to the imagination. Now it can be owned and played for friends, straight from the Archives,

Metrocolor wasn’t the sturdiest of color stocks, but the transfer is fine.

MARLOWE now on DVD at the Warner Archive

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