Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Bob Mitchum had a unique screen personality. To every
role, war hero or criminal, he brought a presence that said, "I
won't talk a lot, but I'll listen to you if you aren't too
irritating. It's just that talkin' takes a lot of energy. I'll even
let you give me a little shit, because gettin' riled up is a waste
of energy, but pushin' me to far would be a mistake." He was
the embodiment of a certain type of quiet strength. Oh, yeah,
Gregory Peck had some of the same sort of persona, but in a God-fearin',
sexless way. Bob Mitchum took that Peck thing and added several more
layers: sexual charisma, danger, world-weariness, cynicism, even a
hint of sleaze. Mitchum even went to jail on a marijuana rap back in
the days when people thought the ganja was about a hair's breadth
from heroin. I suppose Peck could probably have played the menacing
Max Cady effectively, but I doubt he'd have wanted too. And Mitchum
probably could have played Atticus Finch, but would they have wanted
Mitchum, the quintessential American
type, got two tries at playing the honest detective known as
Marlowe, a quintessential American character created by Raymond
Chandler. In both cases, the films were remakes of wartime classics.
Farwell, My Lovely was a remake of 1944's Murder, My Sweet, which
starred Dick Powell as Marlowe. The Big Sleep was a remake of an
eponymous 1946 film (originally filmed in 1944) which starred Bogie
himself. Bogie WAS Philip Marlowe, possessing Marlowe's same sense
of integrity so stubbornly ingrained that it led him into
inconvenient directions, sometimes even into decisions contrary to
his own self-interest. More than one underage starlet reported
having been picked up by Bogie at a Hollywood party and driven home
- to her parents! That is exactly what Marlowe himself would have
I like Bogie in the role better than Mitchum, but
I like Mitchum better than anyone else I've ever seen in it, and I
like his interpretation of the obligatory voice-over narration
better than anyone's. His voice carried just the right combination
of resignation, idealism, and cynicism. Farewell, My Lovely is the
better of Mitchum's two Marlowes, and in fact is quite a good movie.
Chandler's novels are very difficult to whittle down to screenplays
because they are so complicated, and because all the characters are
disingenuous except Marlowe himself. It's difficult to follow a plot
based on dialogue when every single character is lying or hiding
something. The other
Marlowe films have worked because of atmosphere, wit and style, not
because of careful or understandable plotting. Farewell, My Lovely
is different. The plot is still complicated as hell, but it's
reasonably easy to follow. After watching the movie, I pulled out my
copy of the book and skimmed through it to see how the screenwriter
approached the project, and I finished that exercise very impressed.
The film's story is like the novel's story, but details have been
omitted and even changed entirely. Sometimes the complete focal
point of a scene has been shifted. And it all works - possibly even
better than the novel, although one always misses all the intricate
details that can be explored in a book. My hat is off to
David Zelag Goodman.
I had never heard the name of David Zelag Goodman
before writing this article,
and was fascinated to see that he wrote some respected
screenplays in the early 1970s and then just kind of disappeared.
IMDb offers no clues to this mystery.
Goodman not only
did a good job at condensing the plot, but he also
layered in some clever parallels between Marlowe's cases and the
events happening in the world at the time. For example, things go
well for Marlowe at the beginning of the film. He solves two missing
persons in two days and also manages to pick up an incredibly hot
rich chick, so he mentally compares himself to DiMaggio, who was at
the time just a few games shy of the all-time hit record. As
DiMaggio passes the record and keeps adding to his record, a cocky Marlowe
wonders if DiMaggio will just keep hitting in every game forever
(implying that he may do the same, although Marlowe is too modest to
say so directly). Of
course, DiMaggio is finally stymied by a couple of mediocre
pitchers, because all streaks must end. Marlowe's own streak meets a
similar fate, disappointing him and breaking his heart, but ultimately enriching us by
providing fodder for the usual poetic and melancholy voice-over
The film delivers
a comprehensible plot, some touching moments, and some great Marlowe
narration from Mitchum. In addition, there are all the atmospheric
elements you need in 1941 Los Angeles: neon signs flashing on and
off, sassy dames, drunken floozies, big galoots, wise guys, ugly
mugs, washed-up fighters, crooked cops, crookeder politicos, lots of
street slang, and
Harry Dean Stanton. In my book, that pretty much makes Farewell, My
Lovely a must-see if you like film noir of the hard-boiled detective
'Caps and comments by Oz:
"The Big Bounce"
Sara Foster's blurry pseudo streak in The Big Bounce (2004) has appeared a few times before but there's also a bit of sex appeal by Bebe Neuwirth and Anahit Minasyan.
"The Last Ride"
Plenty of cleavage by Nadine Velazquez in The Last Ride (2004), and she is also down to her underwear.
"Lovers and Other Strangers"
I'm not sure how we didn't see a Bonnie Bedelia nipple in these caps from Lovers and Other Strangers (1970) but it was so close. Some nice caps by Marian Hailey and Anne Meara.
Azura Skye is a prostitute in Sexual Life but always keeps her bra on - bit of a turn off. We see some beautiful pokies by Anne Heche and a naked, but distant, stripper. Elizabeth Banks and Kerry Washington add to the eye candy.
The only visible nudity in Some Girls (1989) is a fleeting couple of flashes by Sheila Kelley. Jennifer Connolly and Ashley Greenfield are in their underwear and Lila Kedrova is there for those collecting an old-age pension.
"Ā Tout de Suite"
Isild Le Besco is not the most beautiful of actresses but is more than willing to strip off. In Ā Tout de Suite (2004) we get to see all of her.
"Flashback - Mörderische Ferien"
There is a brief, blurry nipple flash by Valerie Niehaus in Flashback - Mörderische Ferien (2000), aka Murderous Vacation. There's also a bit of an upskirt by a good-looking Marina Mehlinger.
Julia Ormond is down to her bra when she has a quickie in Captives (1994).
"Erotic Tales - The Gas Station"
A bit of cleavage by Ellen Ten Damme in an episode from the Erotic Tales series called The Gas Station (2000).
Ellen Ten Damme
Some topless views of Susan Byun and Lisa Bonet in Final Combination (1994).
"Dead by Monday"
No nudity but some nice views of Helen Baxendale and Guylaine St Onge in Dead by Monday (2000).
Guylaine St Onge
"The Right Temptation"
It's a similar story in The Right Temptation (2000) where we see Rebecca De Mornay showing a bit of leg.
Rebecca De Mornay
"Solomon and Sheba"
It's cleavage by Halle Berry in Solomon and Sheba (1995).
There's a bit of a nipple by a sexy Diane Lane in Rumble Fish (1983) and some bare breasts by some girls having a bit of a rumble. There's a group of five women and I'm not sure which ones actually did the nudity.
Stone Cold (1991) shows a topless Laura Albert and some unknown strippers.
"For the Love of the Game"
Laura Cayouette is down to her underwear in For the Love of the Game (1999).