"YOU accept an invitation to a blonde's apartment! YOU get socked in the jaw by a murder suspect!" That's how ads promoted this inventive if not entirely successful film noir, the first to employ a subjective camera. Under star Montgomery's direction, the viewer is in the film, so to
speak, with all the action and characters addressing the camera, which tells the story from the point of view of Raymond Chandler's incorruptible private eye, Philip Marlowe.
The film opens as Marlowe begins to relate the "Lady in the Lake" caper. The subjective camera takes over, the story unfolding in flashback. Tired of sleuthing for a living, Marlowe has taken up writing and produced a number of detective stories that he has submitted to Kingsby Publications.
Having read his most recent story, editor Adrienne Fromsett (Totter) asks that he come to see her. When he arrives in the magazine office, Marlowe learns that Adrienne is not really interested in his story; instead she plans to wed Kingsby (Ames), and she wants the detective to find his missing
wife so she can have her man. The first step in Marlowe's investigation is a visit to Lavery (Simmons), a wealthy, musclebound gigolo. At first, Montgomery is welcomed by the handsome young rake, but when the detective asks one sensitive question too many, he is suddenly punched silly.
Marlowe wakes up in the Bay City jail, where Lt. DeGarmot (Nolan) tells him that he was picked up for drunk driving. Marlowe claims that he was framed--averring that he was knocked out and had booze poured over him before he was thrown into his car, which was then sent careening down the street.
Marlowe returns to Adrienne's office and informs her that he's dropping the case. Then comes a report that the wife of the caretaker of Kingsby's retreat at Little Fawn Lake has been murdered, her body found floating in the lake. Believing that the caretaker's wife was murdered by Kingsby's wife,
Adrienne asks Marlowe to prove her theory so that the wife can be prosecuted for murder. The more Marlowe discovers about the lady in the lake, the more determined he is to stay with the case.
The cast is uniformly good, with Totter and Nolan real standouts. Appearing onscreen only in the introduction and conclusion (or when Marlowe looks into a mirror), Montgomery has deliberately and effectively soured his pre-war playboy image. Yet Chandler not only disliked Montgomery's performance
but hated the film itself, perhaps because of the hard time he had attempting to adapt his novel. (This was the only time Chandler was ever paid to create a screenplay from one of his original works.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: "YOU accept an invitation to a blonde's apartment! YOU get socked in the jaw by a murder suspect!" That's how ads promoted this inventive if not entirely successful film noir, the first to employ a subjective camera. Under star Montgomery's direction, the… (more)