"Farewell My Lovely," based on the novel of the same name by famed hard-boiled detective author Raymond Chandler, a Californian,(Farewell, My Lovely),is set in the author's glamourous 1940's film noir Los Angeles. However, it was filmed, lavishly -- no stinting on any car or landmark -- in the Los Angeles of the 1970's, to be released in 1975. It was also filmed in color, thecritics’ theory being that LA noirs may successfully be filmed in color. 1970's LA was then rather neo-noir itself, in the sour aftermath of the Manson family murders, and the Hell's Angels' murder at the Rolling Stones' Altamont concert. Quite a few neo-noirs were being filmed there and then, in color. "Farewell" is actually a British production. David Selag Goodman adapted the script, staying much closer to the novel than the original, 1944 adaptation,(Murder, My Sweet), starring Dick Powell. Jerry Bruckheimer gets a production credit on the movie; his touch might be seen in the open-handedness with which it's filmed, the well-orchestrated, swift-moving scenes of violence -- the whole movie clocks in at a quick 98 minutes-- and the all-star cast assembled for it. The movie evokes its time in the United States: Joe DiMaggio's breathlessly followed 1941 hitting streak. And it succeeds in giving us a sense that December 7, 1941 is inevitably coming: "The day that will live in infamy," then President Roosevelt famously said. The day that began World War II so far as America was concerned, with the Japanese dawn bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, ( that's not so far from LA). The jazzy score is by David Shire. The cinematography was by John Alonzo, who had just done Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition), the year before; he gives us a real sense of the sun baked, beautiful but sinister city of its setting. This film should be sufficient to convince anyone that Robert Mitchum was born to play Philip Marlowe. Even though it's true that, in his late 50's at the time, he was a bit old for it. Never mind, that lived-in, world weary, expressive face, with a hint of humor in the heavy-lidded eyes, and the tough old guy body language, is perfect for the role. And Chandler told interviewers he'd visualized Mitchum for the part all along. Mitchum is ably supported by the ever cool, gorgeously sultry Charlotte Rampling as the femme fatale. The cast also includes John Ireland, Sylvia Miles, Anthony Zerbe, Harry Dean Stanton, and a young Sylvester Stallone, in an important, though hardly speaking, bit part. Things open as a down on his luck Marlowe:" All I own is a hat, a gun, and a suit," he says, is approached by a new, would-be client, giant Moose Malloy, fresh from prison after doing seven years for his girlfriend Velma (Rampling). She's cute as "lace-trimmed pants," the ex-con says, and he wants Marlowe to find her. That investigation will take Marlowe through the highlife, and lowlifes of LA. He'll end up no better off than he was, in fact, the worse for wear. But people he meets on his quest are going to end up even worse. This is a strong, well-done movie, with an interesting, complex plot. It certainly can stand alongside the earlier, black and white classic version.
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