Farewell, My Lovely [1975]

Of all the Philip Marlowes, Robert Mitchum's in Farewell, My Lovely resonates most deeply. That's because this is Marlowe past his prime, and Mitchum imbues Raymond Chandler's legendary private detective with a sense of maturity as well as a melancholy spirit. And yet there's plenty of Mitchum's renowned self-deprecating humor and charismatic charm to remind us of his own iconic presence. As in the previous 1944 film version, Murder, My Sweet, Marlowe searches all over L.A. for the elusive girlfriend of ex-con Moose Malloy, a lovable giant who might as well be King Kong. In typical Chandler fashion, the weary Marlowe uncovers a hotbed of lust, corruption, and betrayal. Like Malloy, he's disillusioned by it all, despite his tough exterior, and possesses a tinge of sentimentality for the good old days. About the only current dream he can hold onto is Joe DiMaggio and his fabulous hitting streak. Made in 1975, a year after Chinatown (shot by the same cinematographer, John Alonzo), Farewell, My Lovely is more straightforward and nostalgic, but still possesses a requisite hard-boiled edge, and the best kind of angst the '70s had to offer. (By the way, you'll notice Sylvester Stallone in a rather violent cameo, a year before his Rocky breakthrough.) --Bill Desowitz

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