The Big Sleep

Novel, 1932
Movies featuring Philip Marlowe
The Falcon Takes Over (1942)

Director Irving Reis; writers Lynn Root, Frank Fenton; featuring George Sanders, Lynn Bari, Ward Bond

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Also called Farewell, My Lovely; director Edward Dmytryk; writer John Paxton; featuring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley

The Big Sleep (1946)

Director Howard Hawks; writers William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman; featuring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

Lady in the Lake (1947)

Director Robert Montgomery; writer Steve Fisher; featuring Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan

Marlowe (1969)

Director Paul Bogart; writer Stirling Silliphant; featuring James Garner, Gayle Hunnicutt, Carroll O'Connor, Rita Moreno

The Long Goodbye (1973)

Director Irving Reis; writers Lynn Root, Frank Fenton; featuring George Sanders, Lynn Bari, Ward Bond

Farewell, My Lovely (1975)

Director Dick Richards; writer David Zelag Goodman; featuring Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling, Jack O'Halloran

The Big Sleep (1978)

Director Michael Winner; writer Winner; featuring Robert Mitchum, Sarah Miles, Joan Collins, James Stewart

Poodle Springs (1998)

Director Bob Rafelson; writer Tom Stoppard; featuring James Caan, Dina Meyer, David Keith

The Big Sleep

COMMENTARY | MOVIES

Farewell, My Lovely scene

Philip Marlowe takes on a tough client in 1975's Farewell, My Lovely.

Good old Marlowe

The only actor who played Philip Marlowe twice in the movies is Robert Mitchum.

The sleepy-eyed actor had made his name in several notably dark films of the 1940s and 1950s (including the aforementioned Out of the Past), and so it was no surprise that he could take up the role of Chandler's anti-hero so comfortably as he did in 1975 when, in his upper fifties, he starred in a modest remake of Farewell, My Lovely.

Robert Mitchum as Marlowe 1975

Robert Mitchum as Marlowe

This Farewell, My Lovely was an unexpected hit. In the disco-versus-punk era of the mid-1970s it was a nostalgic throwback in style, writing and actors to the cool of 1940s noir.

Mitchum walks through the film as though he's lived in Marlowe's clothes his whole life. Maybe he's a bit old for gumshoe heroics, but that just adds to the comfort level.

Ex-heavyweight boxing contender Jack O'Halloran also walks through his first movie role as the hulking Moose Malloy. His stiffness and slow-speaking menace are perfect for the part of the released convict who wants Marlowe to find his old girlfriend, Velma.

Charlotte Rampling smoulders as the beauty with something to hide.

And watch for Harry Dean Stanton as a cop and Sylvester Stallone in a very small tough-guy role.

Opening shots of Farewell, My Lovely of 1975.

But mostly the film succeeds for its intelligent use of Chandler's text. This is one of the most faithful of all his adaptations. It restores much (but not all) of the grittier material from the book that could not be shown in the 1944 take (called Murder, My Sweet) with William Powell.

Also, its dark and smoky cinematography quite cleverly, even in full colour, takes the viewer back to the morally grey days of earlier film noir.

— Eric

COMMENTARY | MOVIES