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Author Topic: Marlowe (1969)  (Read 2249 times)
cigar joe
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« on: April 14, 2014, 05:38:24 AM »


title sequence

It’s all about cool, cool that aura of quiet intensity along that ever changing cutting edge balancing between conservative and excess, the spark between new and old, you know it when you see it.

William Powell had it, Noir icons Bogart, Dick Powell, Mitchum, Conte, Andrews, Ford, Holden, and Hayden had it. James Garner as Marlowe displays one of the last vestiges of classic, big city, private eye cool, surfing the counter culture tsunami of the 60s.  Yes, other P.I. depictions will follow, the majority on TV, but they will be diluted and tainted by the sea change of the Age of Aquarius, but they will be written quirky, cutesy, and PC. The only other film P.I’s that have the classic cool in contemporary settings are Paul Newman’s Harper films, Armand Assante in I, The Jury, and possibly Elliot Gould’s turn as Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, and Gene Hackman as Moseby in Night Moves.

Marlowe(1969) Director: Paul Bogart, with James Garner as Philip Marlowe, Gayle Hunnicutt as Mavis Wald, Carroll O'Connor as Lt. Christy French, Rita Moreno as stripper Dolores Gonzáles, Sharon Farrell as Orfamay Quest, Corinne Camacho as Julie, William Daniels as Mr. Crowell, H.M. Wynant as gangster Sonny Steelgrave, Jackie Coogan as Grant W. Hicks, Paul Stevens as Dr. Vincent Lagardie, film noir bit part mugs Kenneth Tobey (He Walked by Night, The File on Thelma Jordon, One Way Street, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, Angel Face, Down Three Dark Streets) and George Tyne (Deadline at Dawn, They Won't Believe Me, Body and Soul, Call Northside 777, Thieves Highway, Side Street, and Bruce Lee as mod clad enforcer/hit man Winslow Wong.


top to bottom: The Infinite Pad, Marlowe with horsehead oil pump, managers apartment


Right out of the chute we are dropped both visually into Marlowe’s current case in the title sequence by the use of a nice dynamic camera aperture motif that reveals multiple candid papparazi/surveillance photos, and audibly by a bubblegum style pop tune from the silly side of the commercial sixties. Titled “Little Sister” (sung by Orpheus) that ties the film to Raymond Chander’s novel “The Little Sister” The tune itself then morphs into a tinny sounding diegetic song blaring from the radio of Marlowe’s top down Dodge convertible.

The car rolls along, anb only in southern California, horsehead oil pump studded beach, and up to a peace sign and flower power festooned hippy hotel called The Infinite Pad. Jammed into the chrome barred appointments of the dash is a photo of Orin Quest, the wayward missing in action brother from some hicksville Kansas fly speck who blew town down Route 66 in search of kicks. Marlowe wades through the throng of stoned out denizens and into the mangers office replete with posters, burning incense, and love beads. Marlowe soon finds out that he’s in deeper doodoo than the $50 dollar retainer chump change case warranted.


The Bradbury Building

So how, you may ask, does a knight errant loner like Marlowe survive in a world of full page add, multiple operative, private investigation agencies? Well, he sublets half of his shabby suite of family-hand-me-down furnished offices to a beauty college who’s ex-pat Brit proprietor doubles as an answering service/receptionist. He is good for a few chuckles.


noir-ish

Cinematographer William Daniels (Brute Force, Lured, The Naked City) achieves a subdued almost laid back noir-ish style, photographing sleazy late 60s LA in a way that emphasizes the thin veneer of “new” that cosmetically covers the same old decay, its just Day-Glo painted now. Noir archetypes such as the Bradbury Building, and Union Station  provide a cinematic memory link to classic film noir, while modern apartments, cloud club panoramic restaurants, the Hotel Alvarado and Sunset Blvd. strip joints anchor us to 1969. The use of split screen both advances the story line and occasionally provides a bit of humor. Another segment at a TV studio juxtaposes a throwaway modern dance routine along side one of the 20 Greta Garbo films that Daniels is famous for. Garner disdains the dance number to a TV exec telling him that the Garo film is the real entertainment.


top to bottom: Garner & George Tyne, Coogan - O'Connor, Garner O'Connor Tobey


top to bottom: Steelgrave, split screen, Winslow Wong & Marlowe


Garbo

1969 contemporary Marlowe is a cool level headed professional, efficient, witty, and generous he even has a sleep over gal pal who works at the DMV who he also pumps for information. He eschews fedora and trench coat for sunglasses but still smokes a pipe and drinks bourbon.


Marlowe stoned


top to bottom: Corinne Camacho, Gail Hunnicutt, Sharon Farrell far rt., Rita Moreno

The stories catalyst is Orfamay’s search for brother Orin and turns convolutedly into something else. Gayle Hunnicutt is Mavis Wald, a prominent TV star billed as "America's Sweetheart" an almost auguring like reference to Mary Tyler Moore & her show by the same name. Marlowe’s involvement shakes things up enough to get various seemingly un-related individuals getting caught in a vortex with bodies piling up. Watch for Bruce Lee trashing Marlowe’s office. The repartee between Carroll O’Connor and Marlowe.  The sequence at Union Station where a woman is caught sitting at a lunch counter between Marlowe and Orfamay where they update all the skulduggery that has taken place the various facial expressions she displays are hilarious. This is a reference to a similar set up in The Dark Corner where Mark Stevens and Lucille Ball are conversing while a ticket booth girl overhears them.


Club Largo & Dolores (Moreno)

Fellows shines as Orfamay. Jackie Coogan is good as shifty Grant W. Hicks. George Tyne is a hoot as as the Hotel Alvarado house dick. Rita Moreno sizzles as stripper Dolores, doing a very sophisticated striptease routine that’s low on tease and high on strip. It makes you think of what may have been if Hollywood had not been shackled by the Hays Code. Think of the strip routines of Rita Hayworth in Gilda, Adele Jergens in Armored Car Robbery, Anita Ekberg in Screaming Mimi, Robin Raymond in The Glass Wall, Barbara Nichols in Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, even Kim Novak in The Man With the Golden Arm.


Sunset Blvd. circa 1969

The soundtrack after the title sequence reverts into variations of a nice cool jazzy theme. If I have any quibbles it would be for even more LA location shots (especially with the cinematographer of The Naked City). DVD from Warner Archive Collection. 9/10

« Last Edit: April 14, 2014, 07:02:50 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2014, 07:05:45 AM »

If you remember well I asked you which one was the best Marlowe ever between Garner and Mitchum. I can't remember your answer but after this last vision maybe you have changed your opinion. I think the coolness is all in Garner's presence. He just got it and I think he was the most undervalued actor of the '60's and '70's, probably because, in the '60's, Hollywood wasn't the center of moviedom and because in the '70's the neurotic playing got the edge over underplaying.
I have seen this movie twice, dubbed, and was never persuaded by the photography: undistinguished, at best. Too lightful, too sunny throughout. compare the stills you posted with those of Richards movie and you realize the difference: no shades of dark, no contrast. The look of this is that of a telefilm. Though the novel (not one of the author's best ones) was not immersed in a dark aura, still they should have tried for a more noir atmosphere.   

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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2014, 10:33:17 AM »

If you remember well I asked you which one was the best Marlowe ever between Garner and Mitchum. I can't remember your answer but after this last vision maybe you have changed your opinion. I think the coolness is all in Garner's presence. He just got it and I think he was the most undervalued actor of the '60's and '70's, probably because, in the '60's, Hollywood wasn't the center of moviedom and because in the '70's the neurotic playing got the edge over underplaying.
I have seen this movie twice, dubbed, and was never persuaded by the photography: undistinguished, at best. Too lightful, too sunny throughout. compare the stills you posted with those of Richards movie and you realize the difference: no shades of dark, no contrast. The look of this is that of a telefilm. Though the novel (not one of the author's best ones) was not immersed in a dark aura, still they should have tried for a more noir atmosphere.    

I think I agree with you now about which one was best, Garner was the right age to play Phillip Marlowe, and had the right presence, they should have made more with Garner but like I mentioned and you extended the fact that there was a sea change going on in the culture where the neurotic playing got the edge over underplaying.

Also agree about Daniels he was no John Alton, Nicholas Musuraca, or Joe MacDonald, its laid back, not in your face, some shots should have been held longer too, it's edited a bit too quickly. I like the up from the table top shots of Moreno stripping, the from the ceiling through the blowing curtains down to the street shot in the Hotel Alvarado and a few others. I think it's all a reflection of the demise of the studio system, even for example, Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street is way more polished than the telefilm quality The Naked Kiss or Shock Corridor. Add to all this that Paul Bogart was a TV director probably had a lot to do with the overall look.

« Last Edit: April 14, 2014, 05:50:11 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2014, 04:14:13 PM »

 I don't know about you, but when I first read read Chandler (hadn't seen any movie version before) I pictured Marlowe very much like Garner (though I hadn't seen Garner anywhere yet too). And I could never understand how Chandler himself  could envision Cary Grant in the role. He probably must have been thinking of what he would have liked to be himself like. Though he spent much praise on Bogart, this actor was the ultimate Spade, but no Marlowe: too tough for the part.

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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2014, 04:46:26 PM »

Speaking of the book, it's interesting that its Mavis that gives Marlowe the flash of her naked, and Gonzalez is not a stripper.

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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2014, 05:59:58 PM »

Speaking of the book, it's interesting that its Mavis that gives Marlowe the flash of her naked, and Gonzalez is not a stripper.

But Gonzalez looks "as hard to get as a haircut".

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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2014, 05:24:25 AM »

But Gonzalez looks "as hard to get as a haircut".

 Afro

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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2014, 06:01:29 AM »

Though he spent much praise on Bogart, this actor was the ultimate Spade, but no Marlowe: too tough for the part.
Too short.

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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2014, 06:12:51 AM »

When I read the novels it is definitely Mitchum's face on my mind. Even if his both films were not great. Even weak the one by Winner.

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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2014, 04:02:52 PM »

from Rate The last Movie you saw: on: July 26, 2011, 11:56:19 AM

dave jenkins
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Marlowe (1969) 9/10. An adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, updated to the late '60s, with James Garner playing the famous private eye. Good support is provided by Carroll O'Connor, Gayle Hunnicutt, and a really lucious Rita Moreno. Garner and Moreno have such good chemistry that it is no wonder Moreno later became a semi-regular on The Rockford Files. In fact, Marlowe, which has a kind of cheap TV look, almost plays like an early pilot for Garner's show, but edgier, with sharper dialogue, and a really snappy pace (no time to show inserts of Garner's foot pushing the accelerator). The story really moves along. The Bruce Lee cameo is a lot of fun, also.

« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 04:05:33 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2014, 10:39:02 PM »

from Rate The last Movie you saw: on: July 26, 2011, 11:56:19 AM

dave jenkins
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Marlowe (1969) 9/10. An adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, updated to the late '60s, with James Garner playing the famous private eye. Good support is provided by Carroll O'Connor, Gayle Hunnicutt, and a really lucious Rita Moreno. Garner and Moreno have such good chemistry that it is no wonder Moreno later became a semi-regular on The Rockford Files. In fact, Marlowe, which has a kind of cheap TV look, almost plays like an early pilot for Garner's show, but edgier, with sharper dialogue, and a really snappy pace (no time to show inserts of Garner's foot pushing the accelerator). The story really moves along. The Bruce Lee cameo is a lot of fun, also.

 Grin

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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2014, 07:07:15 AM »

That reminds me. Garner as Marlowe suckers Lee into going a leap too far by suggesting some gay subtext. In the pilot episode of The Rockford Files--"Backlash of the Hunter" (1974)--Garner as Rockford suckers an adversary (William Smith) in a similar way with the very same taunt. Another reason I thought of Rockford while viewing Marlowe.

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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2014, 08:01:12 AM »

That reminds me. Garner as Marlowe suckers Lee into going a leap too far by suggesting some gay subtext. In the pilot episode of The Rockford Files--"Backlash of the Hunter" (1974)--Garner as Rockford suckers an adversary (William Smith) in a similar way with the very same taunt. Another reason I thought of Rockford while viewing Marlowe.

Yea I remember that too.

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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2014, 03:17:34 PM »

One of those Hollywood films that was behind its time at least 5 years. MGM was one
of the last studios to realize what audiences wanted to see in the late 60s and early 70s.
Four years later they stopped film production altogether and only cared for their Las Vegas Hotel complex.

But I like Garner. And Gayle Hunnicut.

But the reason why I have the DVD in my hand every other two years is Bruce Lee,
who steals the film with his first scene, a show stopper really. His star potential is pretty obvious and
the fact that rascist Hollywood and a lack of imagination forced him to try his luck in Hongkong
always made me sad. I would miss his Chinese films, but what great US films he could have made..

the German 1-sheet. Lee is pictured on 5 German lobby cards!



« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 03:19:57 PM by mike siegel » Logged


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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2014, 06:27:05 AM »

Interesting title, can't remember what it has to do with the movie's plot. Who's the ambushing third one? The brother?

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