Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Marlowe

From: jumblejim (
Date: 01 Jul 2003

Jim Doherty wrote:

> Here's how it breaks down in the Marlowe performance
> competition.
> GOLD MEDAL: Dick Powell (captured the character as
> written in the novels and stories better than anyone,
> and looked surprisingly good in the part; plus the
> movie was the best adaptation of a Chandler novel.)
> SILVER MEDAL: Humphrey Bogart (he gets it mainly for
> being Bogie; which is essentially how he played
> Marlowe. Rather than play Chandler's character, he
> adapted the character to his already well-established
> screen persona.)
> BRONZE MEDAL: James Garner (great actor and looks the
> part more than just about anyone else who's played it;
> he did appear a bit uncomfortable in the 1960s, but,
> after all, the last Marlowe novel came out only 10
> years prior to the movie. Updating aside, the film
> was actually pretty faithful to the original novel.)
> Robert Mitchum was too old for the part by the time he
> played it, plus he's handicapped by the fact that both
> his appearances were in remakes. Still, one is
> impressed by what an awesome Marlowe he'd've made in
> his prime.

I've overstated my case in the past that I prefer Mitchum's FAREWELL Marlowe to all others, but the idea of a 37-year-old Mitchum in the part is indeed awesome.
> Robert Montgomery struck me as just mean-spirited
> rather than tough, and the film too damned gimmicky.

Absolutely right on both counts.

> George Montgomery had the opposite problem of Mitchum.
> He was too young, and the mustache didn't make him
> look any older. Based on performances from later in
> his career, however, he'd've probably made a pretty
> acceptable Marlowe had he waited another 10 years.

I agree. G. Montgomery made some very interesting little pictures in the late Fifties and early Sixties, most of which he produced, action pictures where his new maturity hinted at just the right touch for Marlowe. In the Forties, he still hadn't shed that Fox musical persona he'd only recently developed.

FYI: Here are the ages at which the various actors played Marlowe:

George Montgomery - 31 Powers Boothe (TV) - 34 Philip Carey (TV) - 34 Gerald Mohr (radio) - 34 Elliot Gould - 35 Van Heflin (radio) - 37 Dick Powell - 40 James Garner - 41 Robert Montgomery - 43 Humphrey Bogart - 44 Robert Mitchum - 58 James Caan - 59

Jim Beaver

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