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Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart), private dick, is called to the palatial Sternwood estate. General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) has two daughters and at least as many problems. Because of gambling debts accumulated by Carmen (Martha Vickers), the younger and wilder daughter, he is blackmailed. Maybe it has something to do with a former manservant; or maybe itís pornography or drugs or rare books; or an illegal casino, shady property ownership; or poison or an illicit affair or a few cryptically related murders. Or maybe the whole thing is about the continuous introduction of new characters and information - at the last possible minute. Whatever, by the filmís end thereís just one thing thatís crystal clear; Marlow has fallen for older daughter Vivian (Lauren Bacall), and Bogart has fallen for Bacall. And thatís all that matters.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Fifty years ago, this film must have had quite an impact with its racy antics - and it has aged well. As private eye films go, itís classic, if a little confusing, but as cinema, itís engrossingly, palpably human in its scale and its morals. Retaining some of the snappiest lines of quick-witted dialogue from the book (ďShe was trying to sit on my lap while I was standingÖĒ), the scripting team has done Chandler proud for cool, fast humour, splendidly delivered by Bogey and Bacall, just at the start of their off screen romance.†

Bogey had a few bad days on set during filming, drinking too much under stress with his marriage breaking up, but this hardly shows. His hard-nut, cool-heart Philip Marlowís school of charm is more robust than romantic until it starts to warm up over Bacallís Vivian.†

Identifying the plot, with its six murders vying for solutions, is like trying to identify your undies in the tumble dryer, but with a lot more fun and far greater suspense, not to mention far better musical accompaniment. Watching this is like a hugely entertaining glimpse back in cultural time. With pizzazz. Enjoy.

Published May 20, 2004

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(US, 1946)

CAST: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Dorothy Malone (see release version credits)

PRODUCER: Howard Hawks

SCRIPT: William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman, from the novel by Raymond Chandler.

RUNNING TIME: 116 mins

PRESENTATION: 1.33:1 / 4:3 transfer; Black & White; dolby digital; Languages in Dolby Mono 1.0: English/French/Italian

SPECIAL FEATURES: theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: April 7, 2004

DVD RELEASE: Warner Home Video

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