Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Continuing on with the month of “Noir-vember,” we have the 1944 film Murder, My Sweet, starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley!

One night in his office, private detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) is visited by Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki). Moose wants to hire him to find his girlfriend, Velma Valento, who is missing after eight years. They don’t have any luck, but at least one person Philip talks to seems to know more than they let on. Soon, he is contacted by Lindsay Marriott (Douglas Walton), who wants to hire him as a bodyguard while he pays the ransom for some jewels. However, things don’t go well, and Lindsay is killed, with Philip also conked. After the police question Philip and warn him to stay away from psychic Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger), Philip returns to his office. There, he is met by Ann Grayle (Anne Shirley), who tries (and fails) to pose as a reporter. She reveals that it is her stepmother, Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor), who owns the jade necklace that had been stolen and Lindsay was trying to recover. Ann’s father, Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander), ends up hiring Philip to help find the jade necklace, but he finds the two cases intersecting as Amthor uses Moose to help shake information out of Philip on the location of the necklace.  But will Philip live to tell the tale?

Murder, My Sweet is based on the 1940 novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. RKO Studios had already bought the film rights and made a film just a few years before. However, the movie, The Falcon Takes Over (1942), was used as part of another detective franchise, replacing Philip Marlowe with detective Gay Lawrence (AKA the Falcon), and changing a lot from the novel. Due to some of the substantial changes made, it was easier to convince the studio heads to do a re-make so quickly. Of course, while he was cast as Philip Marlowe, Dick Powell was hardly who anybody would have picked for the role. At the time, he was typecast in a lot of musical roles, due mainly to the success of some of the Busby Berkeley films he starred in, such as 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, and a number of others. He was getting tired of them, but that’s all the studios wanted to cast him in. When signing with RKO, that’s what they wanted him to do as well, but he apparently had enough power to get it into his contract that he could do this movie. Of course, the movie was briefly released by the novel’s original title, Farewell, My Lovely, but, due to Dick Powell’s reputation, audiences thought they were going to see a musical, and came away disappointed. But, the title was changed, and the film became a hit, allowing audiences to see Dick Powell in a new light!

My own opinion is that this is a great noir. I love the dialogue, which gives us such vivid descriptions, and of a type that would not seem at home in any other film genre. The visuals, from the “smoke” when he is all “coked up” to the screen going black when the character is knocked out and many other instances, all make this movie a fun experience. While I mainly know Dick Powell from some of his musicals and comedies, this film is a wonderful change of pace, and he just works so well in it! It’s definitely an easy thing for me to give this movie some of my highest recommendations for a film noir!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. Since I had heard that it was given one of their usually fantastic transfers, it was an easy movie for me to give a chance, as I hadn’t seen or heard of it before then! And I’m glad to have seen it! The movie is one hour, thirty-five minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

In The Navy (1941) – Dick Powell – Susan Slept Here (1954)

Claire Trevor – Raw Deal (1948)

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