Philip Marlowe is probably the most popular private detective in all of cinema (though Sherlock Holmes is a biggie too obviously). Raymond Chandler is just one of those writers whose work makes for good movies. Marlowe has been played by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Elliott Gould, Robert Mitchum, James Garner, James Caan, Powers Boothe and even Danny Glover. Oh yeah, and also Dick Powell. Dick Powell's Marlowe in MURDER, MY SWEET is one that gets a little overlooked I think. He's easily top four Marlowe in my mind. And people definitely forget that Powell played Marlowe two years before Bogart took up the mantle. While the film is hardly completely forgotten, I don't believe it comes up in the conversation about great Film Noirs as much as it should. Powell makes a perfect Marlowe and the movie is one of the best detective noirs out there. I understand that Dick Powell is inherently maybe not as dynamic an actor as Bogart, Mitchum or Gould, but he is spot on solid to play the world weary gumshoe. This was a change of pace for him too as he was mostly known for his work in musicals and comedies to this point. The film's director Edward Dmytryk, like Dick Powell also gets short shrift a bit these days. He is certainly not forgotten, but deserves more praise for films like THE SNIPER, CROSSFIRE and MIRAGE, all of which have a fantastic air of noir about them. Lots of twists and turns. MURDER, MY SWEET also has one of those delightfully labyrinthine and episodic plots that we love so much in a hardboiled tale. As the Dude in the BIG LEBOWSKI might say, "A lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous". Our hero Marlowe is smacked with a blackjack within the first ten minutes and is rendered otherwise unconscious more than once throughout the proceedings. He doesn't respond well to threats and does his share to irritate people with his sarcastic tone (which is awesome). The supporting cast joining Dick Powell here is a sharp lot of actors including Claire Trevor, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki and the lovely but underappreciated Anne Shirley.
Warner Archive has done yet another bang-up job with this Blu-ray and the results are beautiful. If anyone ever had any question about Blu-ray making a difference for black and white films, they need look no further than WAC's OUT OF THE PAST Blu-ray and this disc for examples of how nice a movie this old can look. Hats off to them for their continued pursuit of excellence when it comes to their high definition output. I know I've heard lots of queries about films they've yet to release on Blu-ray that they have offered in their streaming service in 1080p. They've made a point time and again to indicate that just because a high-def master exists, does not mean they have what they need to put out a proper Blu-ray that meets their current standards of quality. As a result, I look forward to each new release from them (especially the B&W ones) with a great amount of anticipation and this new MURDER, MY SWEET disc has done nothing to dissuade me.
This disc also includes an enjoyable commentary track from author/Film Noir specialist Alain Silver (THE FILM NOIR READER, THE NOIR STYLE).
MURDER, MY SWEET can be purchased on Blu-ray here: