Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lady In The Lake (1947)

Starring Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames
Directed by Robert Montgomery
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Detective Philip Marlowe submits a story to a publishing house, and though he's brought in for an interview with a beautiful executive, she really wants to hire him to find her boss's estranged wife.

Although based on a novel by Raymond Chandler, this film really doesn't rank with the better Marlowe adaptations, as it's a much lighter concoction, with hardly a shadow to be found in the film's photography.  Robert Montgomery stars as Marlowe, and although he provides the appropriate cynical dialogue and narration, it just doesn't sound quite right coming out of his mouth- in fact co-star Lloyd Nolan might have been a better casting choice for Chandler's gumshoe.  Montgomery's also hardly ever on camera, as the film is almost entirely shot from Marlowe's perspective, an intriguing experiment by Montgomery however, as he also directed.  It's not a bad idea, placing the audience in the main character's shoes, although I don't think it quite works well enough, but give him and his cast and crew credit for a distinctive effort.  Totter isn't bad as the woman Marlowe falls for, playing a character not part of the original novel, but she seems all wrong for the story, and would have been better off playing a femme fatale.  Another odd choice was to set the film at Christmastime, and have it open with Christmas carols accompanying the credits, hardly appropriate for a gritty film noir, and David Snell's score utilizing choir singers at suspenseful moments just didn't work for me.

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