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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: cigar joe on September 11, 2019, 05:26:02 PM

Title: Poodle Springs (1989)
Post by: cigar joe on September 11, 2019, 05:26:02 PM
Previous comments:

Quote from: dave jenkins on April 09, 2017, 06:31:39 PM

Poodle Springs (1998) - 6/10. James Caan as Marlowe. Lame TV-like production, but with some features of interest.
link is dead.

Quote from: titoli in response from a review on March 23, 2011, 12:30:26 AM

Poodle Springs (1998) There is the famous anecdote about the people filming The Big Sleep about not knowing who had killed a secondary character of the story and Chandler, asked by them about it, didn't remember either. Well, I don't know what poor Leigh Brackett and Howard Hawks could have made if they had to transpose this for the screen. I mean, I haven't read the novel (and I never intended to, out of respect for Chandler) but if I assume (as jenkins is wont to) that Rafelson simplified the story once he brought it on the screen I can't imagine what the original novel (a development on the first 6 chapters left by Chandler) by Robert B. Parker was like.  But that is not the question because that is not why people, I think, read P.I. novels. You read Agatha Christie for the plot, you read Chandler or Spillane or even Stout for the characters, the dialogues, the city descriptions. Here the dialogues are standard, nothing memorable. Characters are standard and forgettable as well. The final explication and shooting are embarrassing. And, most of all, James Caan does nothing to sympathize with his character: and he looks old, older than Mitchum in his own Marlowe movies. I think Caan could have made a good (don't know how good) Mike Hammer in the '70's or even the '80's. But his Marlowe at 58 sucks. I think the best Marlowe, or at least the one that suits better my idea of him, is James Garner's, even though The Little Sister is not the best movie of the series. 6\10


I've always heard negative things about Poodle Springs. Even some from SLWB members (see above), So I avoided both novel and film.....

Its bullshit... the negative comments. This film is a great addition to the Philip Marlowe detective film "universe." I like it better than Altman's unconventional The Long Goodbye.

Poodle Springs was the novel started by Raymond Chandler that was unfinished at the time of his death. He knocked out the first handful of chapters before kicking the bucket. I'm sure he had some type of outline also. It was eventually completed by Robert B. Parker. I've heard that some Chandler fans even refused to read it out "respect" for Raymond Candler (see above). It was the Chandler estate that requested that Parker, a Chandler enthusiast, finish the last Philip Marlowe novel.

Directed by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces (1970), Black Widow (1987), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)). Excellent cinematography was by Stuart Dryburgh, and and beautiful score by Michael Small. The teleplay (it is an HBO film BTW) was written by Tom Stoppard based on the aforementioned book by Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler. Stoppard made some changes that work very well. He advanced the time period 3-4 years setting the tale within 19 days between November 3 and November 22 1963 the day of the Kennedy assassination, and that ending date could very well be called the end of what some like to think of as the conservative old school 50's and the dawning of the "Age of Aquarius."

The film stars James Caan (Naked City TV Series (19581963), The Godfather (1972), Cinderella Liberty (1973), Dick Tracy (1990)) as Philip Marlowe, Dina Meyer as Laura Parker-Marlowe

David Keith (The Two Jakes (1990)) as Larry Victor/Charles Nichols. Joe Don Baker (Charley Varrick (1973)) as P.J. Parker, Tom Bower (River's Edge (1986), The Killer Inside Me (2010)) as Lt. Arnie Burns, Julia Campbell as Miriam "Muffy" Blackstone-Nichols, Brian Cox as Clayton Blackstone, Nia Peeples as Angel, La Joy Far as Lola Faithful, Sam Vlahos (Powwow Highway (1989), Lone Star (1996)), as Eddie Garcia, and Mo Gallini as J.D.

BTW Poodle Springs is of course fictitious. a spoof on Palm Springs but located way farther East and North, somewhere between Baker and Las Vegas and roughly two miles from the California/Nevada border.

The Story

First day back from his honeymoon Marlowe is lured to a crime scene by a phoney call from a radio phone from Paul Krauss another P.I. asking for some help on a stakeout down in San Pedro, berth 60.

He tell's Marlowe that he's driving a fire engine red '62 Ford Thunderbird convertible. Marlowe hears two shots over the phone. He calls his pal Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns on LAPD and reports a possible homicide. Marlowe hops in his 1957 Plymouth Plaza gets to the waterfront finds the red rag top.

Inside the car is Krauss. Inside his head is a slug. He's looking through Krauss' wallet and notebook when Burns shows up. Marlowe tells him the story. The homicide squad arrives and starts investigating.

Marlowe: Hey you find the other slug?
LAPD Detective: There's just one entry.
Marlowe: You sure?
LAPD Captain: Something troubling you Marlowe?
Marlowe: Yea there were two shots.
LAPD Captain: Tell me again how you know?
Marlowe: I was counting...

Marlowe is arrested when the cops tell him Krauss couldn't have made the call. All radio calls go through an operator and the last call Krauss made was last night.

Marlowe immediately finds out how strong political pull really is when he's suddenly released when some brass on the LAPD finds out he's P.J. Parker's son-in-law. However once the brass splits his buddy Arnie, who doesn't want anybody to think he rolled over for P.J. Parker, has Marlowe handcuffed again and still sent to a holding cell until his wife and her law partners get him out.

From the name and address he found in Krauss' notebook Marlowe checks out a photographer named Larry Victor. He's not in his office so Marlowe jimmy's the lock on the back door and snoops around. He doesn't get far. Larry Victor come in through the back door of his office.

Larry Victor: Any idea what breaking and entering can get you?
Marlowe: One to five in Soledad...

Marlowe questions Larry after identifying himself as a private eye. Larry tells him that he doesn't know why his name was in Krauss' address notebook. Larry gets a phone call and Marlowe splits. But he circles around the hall and sneaks back in through the front door to listen to the conversation. He finds out that Victor is going to meet someone at Sam's Hof Brau at 9:00PM.

Continued....
Title: Re: Poodle Springs (1989)
Post by: cigar joe on September 11, 2019, 05:27:36 PM
Continuing...

The Hof Brau is a hole in the wall strip joint. Marlowe follows Larry inside and eavesdrops on Larry and a stripper.

From the stripper's dogs collar Marlowe gets her address. The stripper is blackmailing Larry with photographs, but she also has the negatives. Larry gives her a few bucks for the photos. Grabs the envelope they are in and splits.

He rips up the envelope outside the club and throws the pieces in the gutter. Marlowe gtabs a fragment and follows Larry to the apartment of a woman named Angel where it looks like he's spending the night.

Marlowe heads for 6605 Willowby, the address on the dog tag, to snoop around. He finds the place tossed and he's startled by a dead cat spinning from a ceiling fan. He loses his composure and gets hit over the head.

Later back at his apartment he's got reservations about private eyeing. He confides to Arnie...

Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: What's going on with you?
Marlowe [pouring himself a drink]: I don't know, something. I had an experience tonight Arnie, I was shakin', I could see my hand... I was shakin' . I went up those stairs and I was thinking about Laura, I was so busy thinking I wasn't thinking and somebody come and hit me in the head.
Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: It happens.
Marlowe: I never had that, this was fear. [sitting] I know what kept it out.
Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: What was that?
Marlowe: Belonging to nobody. I found something out about this job... It's a loners job.... I ain't that guy anymore.
Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: So?
Marlowe: So... The hell with it. I got a wife I don't deserve loves me. Got four good suits. I got a Plymouth, a .38 under my arm, and I buy my own drinks. There's other places.

He opens up an office in Poodle Springs. It's filled with snooty women and retirees. Marlowe wearing a sport shirt has changed his image.

However trouble seems to find him. While looking for a light for his cigarette he gets almost hijacked by two thugs who tell him that "Lippy wants to see him."

Here Marlowe pulls a neat trick. He asks the thug that pulls a gun on him "Hey how am I going to get back? Why don't you ride with me?" The thug agrees puts his automatic back in his holster and goes to get in the car. Marlowe gets in the driver's seat first and pops a gun out from under the dash and pulls it on the thug.

We realize that this is Marlowe's regular routine in a situation like that, when this trick is repeated later on. The fracus causes a small commotion on the streets of the "Springs." Before he tells the thug to beat it he asks again for a light. The thug gives him a box of wooden matches that come from the Agony Club.

Marlowe heads to the Agony Club to confront Lippy Lipshultz. Lippy tells Marlowe he's looking for a guy named Charles Nichols. Nichols left a maker for 100,000. He wants Marlowe to find him.

Lippy: He liked to play here, closest legal gambling to Poodle Springs.
Marlowe:  How come you took his marker?
Lippy:He always made good before, lot of money in the family. Ever here of Clayton Blackstone?
Marlowe: Something.
Lippy:Caravan Mining Corporation
Marlowe: Something else way back.
Lippy:Clayton Blackstone's turning Poodle Springs into a company town. Office buildings, department stores, hotels, he even bought the newspaper. Charles Nichols is his son-in-law. Lives right here in Poodle Springs.
Marlowe:  Who does?
Lippy: Charles does the daughter is Maryam lives up on Tamarind Drive where half the rich ladies live in this town... with their rented husbands.
Marlowe: That's where I live.

Marlowe agrees to find Charles Nichols for Lippy.  Marlowe visits Charles' wife Maryam "Muffy" Blackstone Nichols. He tells her that he's been employed to find him from someone who claims that he owes him a hundred thou.

Muffy tells him that that is absurd. She tells Marlowe that her husband does not gambol. Marlowe tells her that he'd like to hear that from Charles himself. Muffy tells him he's off working, and that he basically prides himself on not living off her money. A kindred soul to Marlowe in his present situation, made more poignant considering Lippy's comment about rich ladies with "rented" husbands.

Sitting at Muffy's home bar, Marlowe casually glances down at the collage of images beneath the glass bar top. He sees homey pictures of, surprisingly, Larry Victor and Muffy together. Marlowe asks her if the man in the photos is her husband. She replies yes.

We cut to Marlowe almost calling Arnie in L.A. the double identity of Larry/Charles to tell him what he's discovered, but he doesn't. Old habits are hard to break he decides to split for the city to shake things up for himself.

This leads to Phil and Laura's first tiff. It's a well done scene. She says he told her he was through with the Larry Victor case, Phil tells her Larry and Charles are the same person and "ain't is a gas." But Phil tells Laura that he doesn't have to go tonight. They have makeup sex.

Continuing...
Title: Re: Poodle Springs (1989)
Post by: cigar joe on September 11, 2019, 05:28:11 PM
Continued...

Back in L.A. Marlowe finds Lola Faithful dead in Larry Victor's office. He calls Arnie. The Homicide squad arrives Arnie grills Marlowe. Arnie wants to know WTF Marlowe is doing back in L.A. Marlowe tells him he's working on a missing persons case. He's looking for Charles Nichols son in law of mining magnate Clayton Blackstone. Marlowe tells Arnie that if he's your guy he'll give him to him gift wrapped.

Marlowe in the course of their conversation also asks Arnie about that mobile phone call he got. Arnie says the phone record only showed only his office his doctor and the Posada Motel a cathouse in Silverton.

Marlowe meets with Larry at a bar to shake him up. He tells him about Lola dead in his office. Tells him he knows about Muffy. Larry says that Angel is his wife. Marlowe tells him Charles Nichols is married to Muffy and that Charles Nichols is you. Larry asks him if he's told the cops Marlowes says not yet, because he doesn't think he's a killer. So Larry spills that way back when he and Lola were in the porno business. He also relates that Lola started blackmailing him when she found out he was married to Muffy Blackstone. The twist is that the pictures that Larry ripped up outside the Hof Brau were actually of Muffy who was into posing porno as a kink.

Marlowe gets hijacked again this time by goons working for Clayton Blackstone. His evasive car related trick doesn't work and he's driven to Blackstone's place. There, Marlowe breaks some interesting news to Blackstone.


Marlowe: Perhaps you should quit trying to scare me to death and share some information. Maybe we could help each other. You know that Lola Faithful is dead. I found the body.
Blackstone: You?
Marlowe:Yea. It sort of made me wonder who shot her.
Blackstone: Police like the photographer.
Marlowe: I don't think he's the type.
Blackstone: Oh you know him too?
Marlowe: I know a lot of people. I know your daughter.
Blackstone:What's that got to do with anything?
Marlowe: She's married.... to the photographer.

When Blackstone asks Marlowe who hired him, he tells him that he did, in a way, through Manny "Lippy" Lipshultz manager of the Agony Club which Blackstone owns. Manny gave him some story about an I.O.U. It comes out that Blackstone is paying Charles to be married to Muffy, Charles was spending more time away from home and she was getting distressed, he wants her to be happy.

Blackstone: I give him an allowance certainly... he's not what you'd call successful.
Marlowe: He probably makes twice what I make.
Blackstone: That's what I mean.
Marlowe: I also been thinking that you hired Paull Krauss who'd been following Lola around.
Blackstone: Why should I have someone follow Lola Faithful?
Marlowe:Lola was trying to raise some money on a pronographic photo of your daughter. But what I'm thinking is why you're going to all this trouble to talk to me. What did Lola have on you Blackstone?
Blackstone: My daughter was a sick woman for a while after her mother died. A nervous breakdown. Her behavior became extreme. Maybe you should stick to your own case. Did you find my son-in-law?
Marlowe:What do you think of Charles now that we call him Larry?
Blackstone:  My daughter loves him, and as long as she does I will support him. I will intercede with those that bear him ill.

Blackstone tells Marlowe he will pay for information on who hired Krauss.

Marlowe back at home confides to Laura

Marlowe: It's cold out,  colder than the city.
Laura: You seem different.
Marlowe: am.
Laura: Did everything go alright? Did you find who you were after?
Marlowe:I found him. Remember that happy couple I told you about dancing to the radio? The guy I risked my license for? Turns out he's a bigamist, pimp, and a liar and she is a hooker and an addict, otherwise they didn't fool me one bit.

Of course it all goes spectacularly Noirsville.

James Caan is great as the aging Marlowe in a changing era. He makes this Marlowe just as believable as Mitchum did in the more traditional period piece Farewell My Lovely and in the updated and reimagined The Big Sleep (1978) that had a contemporary (1978) Marlowe who had  served in WWII and then resettled in the UK after the war. Once you get over the time and location change you find the plot follows the original story much better than the Bogart - Bacall version.

Dina Meyer (Laura Parker) gives off a very Jackie Kennedy-ish vibe in the flick. She's smart and confident, she knows what she wants, a harbinger of the women's empowerment movement that's to come. Meyer and Caan are reminiscent of Bogie and Bacall. Meyer is stylish and believable.

Other cast standouts are David Keith, Tom Bower, Julia Campbell, Brian Cox, Nia Peeples, Sam Vlahos, and Michael Laskin.

Another standout for me in the film is the attention to detail in recreating 1963. From tobacciana -ashtrays, matchbooks, Camel cigarettes and table lighters, to Googie signage and architecture. Home interior are 60's chic. There is also a plethora of tail fin cars. Marlowe tools around in a 1957 Plymouth Plaza, Laura drives around in a turquoise 1959 Imperial Crown. Blackstone's goons drive a  1962 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, Krauss drove a 1962 Ford Thunderbird. Also making appearances are a 958 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe, a 1959 Cadillac Ambulance. a 1962 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special, and a 1960 Buick Invicta Convertible Coupe.

Could use a Bluray release 9/10.
 
Title: Re: Poodle Springs (1989)
Post by: cigar joe on September 12, 2019, 01:21:49 PM
Currently on Youtube in a nic print check it out