Humphrey Bogart
Lauren Bacall
John Ridgely
Martha Vickers
Dorothy Malone
Peggy Knudsen
Regis Toomey
Charles Waldron
Charles D. Brown
Bob Steele
Elisha Cook Jr.

Howard Hawks


Time: 114 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Film Noir/Crime

SYNOPSIS: Summoned by the dying General Sternwood, Philip Marlowe is asked to deal with several problems that are troubling his family. Marlowe finds that each problem centers about the disappearance of Sternwood's favorite employee who has run off with a mobster's wife.

BOTTOM LINE: Another classic film noir/murder mystery where the actual outcome isn't half as interesting as the characters and events that one encounters along the way. Bogart plays Philip Marlowe, a clever, sarcastic private detective who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, even if it's something his clients don't want him to know. He has no time for liars, loves the ladies and doesn't scare easy. He's also smarter than he looks. While not classically handsome, there's something about his intelligence and incorruptibility that makes him irresistible.

It's clear to him from the beginning that the Sternwood sisters Vivian and Carmen, played by Bacall and Vickers, are hiding something serious. Their father may have hired him, but they're the ones pulling the strings. What begins as a seemingly simple case of blackmail turns into a tangled web filled with corruption, pornography and murder. The crux of the plot centers on the very bad behavior of Carmen and the sudden disappearance of Sean Regan, a close friend of her father. What happens next I couldn't explain even if I wanted to.

The film is so convoluted it's hard to figure out who's who, what their place is in the story and why they're on the hit list. Bogart and Bacall, whose onscreen chemistry picks up where it left off in TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, are the only meaningful constants with everyone else merely along for the ride. Vickers almost steals the show as the trampy little sister, but her act starts to wear thin about halfway through, especially when compared to the Bacall's slow burn.

The fun of this flick is watching Bogey coolly untangle the mystery, which takes some doing, while trading double entendres with Bacall in a sultry game of seduction. The sexual tension is high, the action often deadly and the truth a real doozy. Bullets, broads and wicked one-liners, what more do you need?

Philip Marlowe: "My, my, my. Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains!"

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