Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Bogie

From: Patrick King (
Date: 25 Mar 2008

--- Shannon Clute <> wrote:
> I agree entirely with your summary of Powell's vs.
> Bogart's portrayal
> of Marlowe. I had this debate with my podcasting
> partner, Richard
> Edwards, in our episode on "Murder My Sweet," and
> made, grosso modo,
> the points you made above (though you make them more
> clearly and
> concisely). Rich, on the other hand, found Powell
> to be the perfect
> Marlowe. I just can't stomach a Marlowe--arguably
> the most morally
> weighty of all literary PI's--tap dancing his way
> glibly through a film
> adaptation. But Rich found those comic touches to
> be the proof of a
> man with a nuanced sense of morality. Which I
> suppose proves one
> thing: it's a memorable performance, no matter how
> you cut it.
****************************************************** Hi Shannon,

I can't say I didn't enjoy MURDER, MY SWEET. I just prefer Hawk's THE BIG SLEEP and Bogart's Marlowe. There's a great deal of humor in the script Hawk worked from, especially the reparte between Marlowe & Vivian. Bogart and Becall had great chemistry and they put it to good use in those clever scenes.

FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, on which MURDER, MY SWEET is based, is a much different story. First, we meet Marlowe when he is literally picked up by Moose Malloy. Unilke General Sternwood in SLEEP, Marlowe is never in control of Malloy because of the latter's strength and penchent for violence. Powell uses patronage in his tone of voice in a partially successful attempt to control Malloy, and this technique puts Marlowe one step down on an emotional level for the viewer. In this story, Marlowe never fully recovers from this position in either the book or the movie. I think the characters in FAREWELL, MY LOVELY are much more complicated than those in the earlier story. The tough-guy, fast gun Marlowe of SLEEP has to adjust his behavior for Malloy, Grayles, Anne Riorden, Velma, and the fake psychic whose name escapes me. These characters don't respond the same way the Sternwoods, Brody & Eddie Mars do. Marlowe's clever patter, and the dialogue is arguably Chandler's best in this story, doesn't put him one step ahead the way it does in THE BIG SLEEP.

It would be interesting to see how Bogart might have played FAREWELL, MY LOVELY. It's too bad no one in Hollywood saw Phillip Marlowe as a franchise opportunity. Its one of the frustrating aspects of this best of the original hard boiled detectives.

Patrick King

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