Re: RARA-AVIS: the voice of hardboiled

From: Graham Powell (
Date: 13 Aug 2001

Personally, I thought Bogart was a little too friendly, a little too gregarious as Marlowe. He didn't have that lonely aloofness that you saw in the books. I caught the first half of "Murder, My Sweet" and the last 15 minutes, and Dick Powell (no relation) seemed to be a little more disillusioned with what life had to offer him.

Graham (not related to William either) Powell
--------------- Hardboiled and Noir

----- Original Message ----- From: "JIM DOHERTY" <> To: <> Sent: Monday, August 13, 2001 7:22 PM Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: the voice of hardboiled

> Re Mark's questions below:
> > These movies [*Maltese Falcon* & *Big Sleep*]
> > were relatively
> > early in his ascent to stardom, right? Among his
> > first roles as the
> > good guy instead of as a heavy, a shift from
> > Petrified Forrest and High
> > Sierra, right?
> *The Maltese Falcon* came right after *High Sierra*,
> though he'd played a good guy (a racket-busting DA
> modeled on Thomas Dewey) in *Marked Woman* some years
> earlier, and in one or two other films, as well.
> By the time he made *The Big Sleep*, he'd already been
> in *Casablanca* (for which he got an Oscar nomination
> and the picture an Oscar), *To Have and Have Not*,
> *Sahara*, etc., and his star status was unchallenged.
> > Now his depiction seems definitive, but does anyone
> > know how he was felt
> > to compare with other movie PIs at the time? I know
> > Chandler felt Cary
> > Grant best suited the role of Marlowe and didn't he
> > prefer Dick Powell's
> > portrayal to Bogart's.
> Chandler never actually said that Grant would be the
> best Marlowe. He said that Grant was the actor who
> looked most like Chandler's visual image of the
> character, which isn't quite the same thing.
> He did say that Powell's portrayal was closer to the
> Marlowe of the books than anyone else's, though I get
> the impression that he was a bit ambivalent about the
> movie, not because he thought that Powell, Dmytryk,
> etc., had done a bad job, but because he didn't make a
> cent out of it (having already sold the rights to RKO
> some years earlier when they made the book into a
> "Falcon" series entry). However much he may have
> preferred Powell, however, he was also very pleased
> with Bogart's performance, saying that he seemed
> genuinely tough, not merely an actor pretending to be
> tough.
> Personally, much as I love both *The Big Sleep* and
> Bogart's performance in it, I also prefer Powell and
> *Murder, My Sweet*. Powell seems to me to capture
> Chandler's character as Chandler wrote about him
> better than any other actor to tackle the part.
> Bogart, on the other hand, takes the character and
> refits him into the by-then well-established Bogart
> persona. It works, of course, and works damned well,
> but I'd still give Powell the gold and Bogart the
> silver.
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