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  Murder, My Sweet

rating: (out of 4 stars)

United States; 1944; also known as Farewell My Lovely
Directed by Edward Dmytryk; produced by Adrian Scott; screenplay by John Paxton; based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
Starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki, Miles Mander

Film noir is often told in flashbacks, using the voice-over of the hero to tell how he knew things were not going as planned, but how he went on with it anyway. Often the men think they are in charge of the situation, but those shadows and weird camera angles are there for a reason: nothing is as it seems. Strong women and always twisting and turning plots, sometimes making little sense, are a must too. 'Murder, My Sweet' is a great example of the genre.

Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler, it shows a story about private detective Philip Marlowe. This time he is played by Dick Powell. (Bogey played him in the great 'The Big Sleep', Robert Mitchum more than once after that.) Although this choice does not seem logical, he brings a lot of flair to the part. He seems constantly loose and relaxed, delivering his dialogue funny. His voice over does the same things, especially when it comes to sarcastic and cynical remarks. Just to name one: "I felt pretty good... like an amputated leg."

Early on we meet Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki), hiring Marlowe to find Velma, a girl gone for six years. He takes the job. Another job enters his life when people are looking for a jade necklace. Pretty soon both stories deal with some of the same group of people, probably meaning they are linked. Why else would they be in the same novel and film? For the necklace Marlowe is hired by the Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander), his wife Helen (Claire Trevor) and (just) his daughter Ann (Anne Shirley). Among others, family friend Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger) seems to be the villain.

The comments about the great film noirs look a lot like each other. The dark visual style fits the dark mystery unfolding before our eyes. The femme fatale, pulling the strings without the men around her understanding it, plays a major part and even though she never seems what she claims, the audience never can be sure about her motives. Love is there, but is it real, and if so, by whom? 'Murder, My Sweet' brings up these questions, creating tension, and keeps it that way the entire time; there is no dull moment in this film.

  Review by Reinier Verhoef