Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Krueger, Don Douglas
Written by: John Paxton, based on a novel by Raymond Chandler
Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 95
Date: 12/09/1944

Murder My Sweet (1945)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Sweet' and Lowdown

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Dick Powell plays Raymond Chandler's private eye Philip Marlowe in this second big-screen adaptation of Chandler's hard-boiled novel Farewell, My Lovely. Since Powell was best known as a song and-dance man in classic films like 42nd Street, RKO decided to change the title to Murder My Sweet, lest anyone confuse it with a musical. Powell is effective in certain scenes when Marlowe shows his vulnerable side, but he feels miscast compared to other screen Marlowes like Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep and Robert Mitchum in the 1975 remake Farewell, My Lovely. The convoluted plot has Marlowe looking for the former girlfriend of a big bruiser named Moose. At the same time, he's hired to help find a missing jade necklace worth $100 grand. Of course, both cases are connected. But director Edward Dmytryk seems less interested in the plot than he does in creating nifty shadows and dark rooms for his shady characters. He has the most fun when Marlowe wakes up pumped full of some kind of drug; Dmytryk spreads a kind of foggy spiderweb across the screen to illustrate Marlowe's confusion.

DVD Details: Warner Home Video has presented the film in a clean transfer on their new DVD with sharp contrast and excellent blacks and whites. It comes with a trailer, optional subtitles and a commentary track by filmmaker/writer/noir expert Alain Silver.

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