It is not a fragrant world but it is the world you live in, and certain writers with tough minds and a cool sense of detachment can make very interesting and even amusing patters out of it.
Philippe Marlowe is back again despite director Robert Altman's attempt to put him permanently to rest in The Long Goodbye. This particular story was brought to the screen in 1942 as The Falcon Takes Over and in 1945 as Murder, My Sweet. It is not a particularly engaging mystery-thriller but it does carry a special flavor as retold by Dick Richards (Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins) and photographed by John A. Alonzo (Chinatown).
Raymond Chandler's famous character Philippe Marlowe is a cynical idealist who is tough without need of a gun. He can generate charm when he needs it or dispense sarcasm when the going gets rough. Robert Mitchum, looking rather haggard does a good job with the role. Especially notable is his voiceover narration carried out with just the right touch of world-weariness and wit.
The setting is Los Angeles in the Forties as seen through Marlowe's eyes a world of dingy hotel rooms and crummy offices contrasted with the spectacular haunts of the weary rich. Our hero is asked by a gargantuan ex-con (Jack O'Halloran) to find his long-lost girlfriend Velda. Visits to a biracial couple, an alcoholic ex-chorus girl (played with élan by the inimitable Sylvia Miles) and the mansion of a rich, powerful judge and his sultry wife (played with too much deference to Lauren Bacall by Charlotte Rampling) only lead Marlowe into a more confusing web of murder and deceit. He is alternately aided and distracted by the police.
Farewell, My Lovely is a romantic detective story replete with large doses of nostalgia for a period of time and a kind of heroism that just doesn't seem to be around anymore. Marlowe's moral code makes him a loyal friend and beyond his cynical wisecracking lies a compassionate heart. Finally, it certainly is refreshing to see an honest cop (John Ireland) grace the screen once again. This is not a fragrant world but a few whiffs of small heroism are welcome every once in a while.