22 July 2018 | grantss
Unfocussed but ultimately quite interesting and entertaining.
Private investigator Philip Marlowe is approached by a friend, Terry Lennox, who is in a bit of a jam. Marlowe helps him get to Mexico but the next day his friend's wife turns up dead. The police hold Marlowe but then release him once Terry Lennox is found dead in Mexico - suicide. To the cops it is an open-and-shut case of murder-suicide but Marlowe doesn't believe that to be the case. Marlowe then is hired by the wife of wealthy author Roger Wade to find her husband. The Wades were neighbours of the Lennoxes. A powerful mob boss also leans on him to find the large sum of money Terry Lennox was transporting for him. Could all these events be connected?
Robert Altman directs a movie based on a Raymond Chandler novel, and it's a mixed bag.
Starts off very well with some humorous scenes and dialogue and a fair amount of intrigue. The middle-to-end sections lack focus, however, and, while it is never dull, the movie feels like it is drifting to a lacklustre conclusion. The intrigue just seems to get sucked out of the movie in that segment. In addition, the theme song gets played in just about every situation and in various forms - it gets very irritating, very quickly.
Ends well though, with a good twist and a powerful conclusion.
A new take on Philip Marlowe from Elliott Gould - he is hardly Humphrey Bogart and he's not trying to be. Altman's Philip Marlowe is the dishevelled, anti-social chain-smoking anti-hero rather than the suave, confident hero that Bogart portrayed. For the most part, it works, though at times I wished for the coolness and wise-cracks of Bogie.
Supporting cast are fine. Sterling Hayden is great as the larger-than-life, Ernest Hemingway/John Huston-esque Roger Wade.
Not the Philip Marlowe of the Bogart movies, but it'll do.