Farewell, My Lovely (1975 film)
Farewell, My Lovely is a 1975 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Dick Richards and featuring Robert Mitchum as private detective Phillip Marlowe. The picture is based on Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely (1940), which had previously been adapted for film as Murder, My Sweet in 1944. The film also stars Charlotte Rampling, John Ireland, Jack O'Halloran, Sylvia Miles and Harry Dean Stanton, with an early screen appearance by Sylvester Stallone. Mitchum returned to the role of Marlowe three years later in the 1978 film The Big Sleep, making him the only actor to portray Philip Marlowe more than once on the big screen.
|Farewell, My Lovely|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dick Richards|
|Produced by||Elliott Kastner|
|Screenplay by||David Zelag Goodman|
|Based on||Farewell, My Lovely by|
|Music by||David Shire|
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Edited by||Joel Cox|
|Distributed by||Avco Embassy Pictures|
In 1941 Los Angeles, against a seamy backdrop of police corruption, cheap hotel rooms, illegal gambling and jewel trafficking, private detective Philip Marlowe is holed up in a hotel room and growing more weary by the hour. As he explains to his police lieutenant friend Nulty: "I've got a hat, a coat and a gun; that's it."
Marlowe has been hired by a huge and surly ex-convict, Moose Malloy, to find his old girlfriend Velma, whom he hasn't seen in seven years. At the same time, Marlowe is investigating the murder of a client named Marriott who was a victim of blackmail and a stolen necklace made of jade.
While encountering connections to both cases, Marlowe develops an attraction to the married and seductive Helen Grayle. As the body count mounts, Marlowe survives attempts on his life, which include being drugged and held captive by a psychotic brothel madam named Amthor and her thugs. The action comes to a head with a shootout on a gambling boat off the L.A. coast.
- Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe
- Charlotte Rampling as Helen Grayle
- John Ireland as Lt. Nulty
- Sylvia Miles as Jessie Halstead Florian
- Anthony Zerbe as Laird Brunette
- Harry Dean Stanton as Detective Billy Rolfe
- Jack O'Halloran as Moose Malloy
- Joe Spinell as Nick
- Sylvester Stallone as Jonnie
- Kate Murtagh as Frances Amthor (believed to be based on Brenda Allen)
- John O'Leary as Lindsay Marriott
- Walter McGinn as Tommy Ray
- Jim Thompson as Judge Baxter Wilson Grayle
Sir Lew Grade had previously invested in Kastner's film Dogpound Shuffle. The producer approached him to invest in Farewell My Lovely and Grade agreed, knowing the movie could be easily be pre-sold to TV. Grade later financed The Big Sleep.
According to Robert Mitchum, Kastner originally wanted the role of Philip Marlowe to be played by Richard Burton, with whom Kastner had worked a number of times. However Burton was busy so they approached Mitchum. The star later recalled:
The producer, Elliott Kastner, comes by with Sir Lew Grade, the British tycoon. He has a black suit, a black tie, a white shirt and a whiter face. 'I know nothing about motion pictures,' Sir Lew says. 'What I know is entertainment: Ferris wheels, pony rides.' I suggested we buy up the rights to Murder, My Sweet with Dick Powell, re-release it and go to the beach. But, no, they hired a director, Dick Richards, so nervous he can't hold his legs still. They have all the hide rubbed off them, He started doing TV commercials. He was accustomed to, you know, start the camera, expose 120 feet of film and tell somebody to move the beer bottle half an inch clockwise. He does the same thing with people.
Mitchum reprised the role of Philip Marlowe three years later in The Big Sleep, although that film was set in the present day and in England, rather than shot as a period piece in the detective's customary setting of Los Angeles.
Marlowe's client, Moose Malloy, is played by Jack O'Halloran, a former professional prizefighter. Mitchum called O'Halloran "one great find on this picture. At least, he's a find if we can ever find him again... They hired him for $500 a week. He looked perfect for the part. One time he hit the producer. One of the producers. We had seven of them. We called them the Magnificent Seven. Jack was swinging this poor bastard around his head like an Indian war club. I tried to explain to him: 'The guy can be talked to, Jack.' He shakes his head. 'Mitch,' he says, 'I was crying too hard.'"
Mitchum says Charlotte Rampling "arrived with an odd entourage, two husbands or something. Or they were friends and she married one of them and he grew a mustache and butched up. She kept exercising her mouth like she was trying to swallow her ear. I played her on the right side because she had two great big blackheads on her left ear, and I was afraid they'd spring out and lodge on my lip."
Sylvester Stallone, in an early role prior to Rocky, has a brief role as an employee of the brothel's sadistic madam (played by Kate Murtagh).
Joe Spinell, who played Willi Cicci in The Godfather and Stallone's boss in Rocky, is featured as Nicky, a hired thug for Frances Amthor. Spinell was in poor health but his friend Robert Mitchum made sure that Spinell's scenes were filmed first so that he could get to the doctors if required.
Mitchum later admitted "This kid Richards, the director, he's got something. It'll be a good picture."
Critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and wrote, "These opening shots are so evocative of Raymond Chandler's immortal Marlowe, archtypical [sic] private eye, haunting the underbelly of Los Angeles, that if we're Chandler fans we hold our breath. Is the ambience going to be maintained, or will this be another campy rip-off? Half an hour into the movie, we relax. Farewell, My Lovely never steps wrong...in the genre itself there hasn't been anything this good since Hollywood was doing Philip Marlowe the first time around. One reason is that Dick Richards, the director, takes his material and character absolutely seriously. He is not uneasy with it, as Robert Altman was when he had Elliott Gould flirt with seriousness in The Long Goodbye. Richards doesn't hedge his bet."
Gene Siskel gave the film three stars out of four and wrote that "if a remake of 'Farewell, My Lovely' isn't something fresh—and following on the heels of 'Chinatown' doesn't make it any fresher—at least the casting of Mitchum as Marlowe was inspired. Mitchum, the actor who makes nodding off seem glamorous, plays Marlowe with a delicious ease. He sounds just like Marlowe should sound."
A review in Variety was more critical, calling it "a lethargic, vaguely campy tribute to Hollywood's private eye mellers of the 1940s and to writer Raymond Chandler, whose Philip Marlowe character has inspired a number of features. Despite an impressive production and some firstrate performances, this third version fails to generate much suspense or excitement."
Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the score by David Shire and the casting of Mitchum as Marlowe both seemed "exactly right," but criticized the voice-over narrative, finding that "the effect undercuts the visual splendors and reveals the plot complications at their most preposterous. Too bad, because it breaks the fine mood Richards & Company establish and makes 'Farewell, My Lovely' an interesting but mixed blessing instead of the unmitigated triumph it almost was."
Film critic Dennis Schwartz believes that actor Robert Mitchum was well-cast and wrote, "The film's success lies in Mitchum's hard-boiled portrayal of Marlowe, its twisty plot and the moody atmosphere it creates through John A. Alonzo's photography. Los Angeles looms as a nighttime playground for hoods, beautiful women and suckers ready to be taken by all the glitzy signs leading them astray."
The film was profitable. TV rights were sold to NBC for $1.2 million.
The novel had been adapted for the screen twice before: in 1942, as The Falcon Takes Over directed by Irving Reis and featuring George Sanders as The Falcon in place of Philip Marlowe; and in 1944, as Murder, My Sweet, featuring Dick Powell as Marlowe and directed by Edward Dmytryk.
Mitchum played Marlowe again in 1978's The Big Sleep, becoming the only actor to play the character in two feature films. Actors who played Marlowe in earlier movies, include Dick Powell (1944), Humphrey Bogart (1946), Robert Montgomery (1947), George Montgomery (1947), James Garner (1969) and Elliott Gould (1973).
- 1. Main Title (Marlowe's Theme)
- 2. Velma / Chinese Pool Hall / To the Mansion
- 3. Mrs. Grayle's Theme
- 4. Amthor's Place
- 5. Mrs. Florian Takes the Full Count
- 6. Marlowe's Trip
- 7. Convalescence Montage
- 8. Take Me to Your Lido
- 9. Three Mile Limited
- 10. Moose Finds His Velma
- 11. End Title (Marlowe's Theme)
- The great movie money show. Michael Pye. The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, July 13, 1975; pg. 47; Issue 7935. (966 words)
- "Farewell My Lover - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- Silver, Alain; Ward, Elizabeth; eds. (1992). Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (3rd ed.). Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5
- Farewell, My Lovely at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- Lew Grade, Still Dancing: My Story, William Collins & Sons 1987 p 246
- Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1975). "Farewell, My Lovely". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Siskel, Gene (August 22, 1975). "Mitchum turns a remake into a 'Lovely' experience". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 3.
- "Farewell, My Lovely". Variety. January 1, 1975.
- Eder, Richard (August 14, 1975). "Screen: Detective Yarn". The New York Times. 39.
- Champlin, Charles (August 20, 1975). "'Lovely' Catches Look of the'40s". Los Angeles Times.
- Dennis, Schwartz (November 21, 2004). "Farewell, My Lovely". Ozus' World Movie Reviews.
- Farewell, My Lovely at Rotten Tomatoes. Accessed: August 21, 2013.
- The Falcon Takes Over on IMDb .
- Murder, My Sweet on IMDb .
- Soundtrack Collector web site. Accessed: August 21, 2013.