Farewell, My Lovely (1975) A Truly Gorgeous, Vivid, Stylish Color Noir...Don't Prejudge it on 1940s Noir Terms! This is a gorgeous surprise, a retreat forward, a 1940s drama not done in painful nostalgic pastel hues and soft edges, but in bold bright 1975 color and pitch dark shadow. You have to say the obvious and get it over with: yes, this is a modern "film noir." But it isn't a mere homage, nor a remake, nor a cheap imitation. Director Dick Richards, who has no other well known film to his credit, pulls a gem out of nowhere on this one. Just be sure to watch it for what it is, a dramatic period crime film, not for what you think it ought to be, a slavish remake of a classic noir. And he has the help of the perfect cinematographer for the subject, John A. Alonzo, who did both Chinatown (the year before) and eight years later, Scarface, both post-noir landmark crime films. Of course, this version of Farewell, My Lovely is, strictly speaking, a remake, which is to say, it's the third movie based on Raymond Chandler's 1940 novel of the same name. And inevitably we are going to compare to the other great version, Dmytryk's 1944 true, early film noir (called Murder, My Sweet). I say other great version, because both are really fine films, and different enough to avoid copycatting. Farewell, My Lovely is actually the more original of the two, an irony after 31 years of influences. And in some ways it's better, mainly because it has Robert Mitchum very much in top form. He makes those beautifully concise and witty one liners seem real and fitting, as if people really did once talk like that. I wish they still did. There are countless bit parts that pump up the stylishness of the movie, most memorably Sylvia Miles playing a hard-drinking has-been. And she and Mitchum have great chemistry, not as lovers, but as people from opposite sides of life who have a similar perspective on things, and they chat and resonate like old friends. (Compare this to the rougher, less involving scene in Murder, My Sweet.) Velma herself is none other than Charlotte Rampling, probably a hair miscast because Rampling has some kind of severity that the noirish femme fatales don't, as a stereotype, share. And this movie deals with stereotypes. Mitchum above all. It's fascinating to see a movie that is meant to be fitting into a form well known enough to be able to both refer to (in style and plot) and to deviate from (so we can feel it's original intent). And to have Mitchum, with his decades of great, strong, roles, anchor it all makes for a sweet, almost poignant experience. A similar feeling might be had in the remake of Cape Fear, but for my money, this is the more interesting movie, whatever the limitations of the plot, and the big thug. Go ahead, compare the Dmytryk version to this Richards one. If you haven't seen either one, watch the more recent one first to give it a full chance. You might go away surprised.
Farewell, My Lovely
Farewell, My Lovely
Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe is hired by paroled convict Moose Malloy to find his girlfriend Velma, former seedy nightclub dancer.
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April 6, 2019