Murder, My Sweet (1944)

dir. Edward Dmytryk. Private detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) is engaged by series of shady clients to variously track down former lovers, negotiate with blackmailers, and provide a soft shoulder to lean on. This is the first film appearance of Raymond Chandler’s famous detective. Made during the golden age of film noir, there is some stunning shadow cinematography, particularly the scenes in the dimly lit beach house, with femme fatale Claire Trevor smoking in the dark. The mid-film dream sequence is extraordinary, and feels very Hitchcockian, I would not be surprised if Hitchcock and Salvador Dali used it as a reference for SPELLBOUND, made a year later. Dick Powell’s version of Marlowe is softer and more of an everyman than the more famous Humphrey Bogart rendition in THE BIG SLEEP (1946). While Powell lacks the cunning and menace of Bogart (mercifully, there is no slapping of women), his softer approach does make his flirting with heiress Ann Grayle (played by Anne Shirley) much more palatable, at times rather romantic.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.