Plot synopsis: Private detective Philip Marlowe is strongarmed into searching for an ex-con's sweetheart, the elusive Velma. Another case involving a stolen necklace leads him to the seductive Mrs. Grayle. Soon he's trying to stay one step ahead of the police and whoever's knocking off Velma's former associates.
Verdict: A true-to-the period remake, made with clear respect for the source novel. Marlowe fits Mitchum like a glove ... but how much better would it have been if this film had been made in the '40s and not just set there? An elegant exercise in nostalgia at the very least. And considering how bad Mitchum's next Marlowe adaptation The Big Sleep was, this film just looks better and better.
Behind the Scenes: Says director Richards in the book Raymond Chandler in Hollywood, "When the opportunity came to do Farewell, My Lovely I jumped at it, or at least I did when the producers agreed to doing it in period. Then, when I realized I could get Robert Mitchum in the film, it became the movie of my dreams because I always felt that Chandler had Mitchum in mind when he developed the Marlowe character. Robert Mitchum is Marlowe, he's that way in real life. He's for the little man. He's very generous and he stands for right and wrong."
Chandler's novel was previously filmed during noir's heyday, as Murder, My Sweet, with Dick Powell as cinema's first Marlowe. The title was changed so that fans of the former crooner wouldn't expect another fluffy flick. The 1975 go-round was true to the period, although set one year later (1941) than in the novel. Due to Mitchum's age, 57 at the time, the filmmakers decided to drop the book's love interest of Anne Riordan, although Mitchum's Marlowe still gets romantic with Mrs. Grayle. At least he's younger than her gray-haired hubby (played by legendary pulp writer Jim Thompson). Lacking a love interest, Marlowe here plays sentimental father figure to an orphaned little boy, which led Time magazine to label the entire film "Soft-Boiled." Other changes include switching the syringe-happy Frances Amthor's gender from male to female, and the addition of a corrupt detective, played by Harry Dean Stanton. On the other hand, this version is truer to the novel than Murder, My Sweet in such details as restoring Florian's clientele from white to black.
Sylvia Miles was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the faded floozy, Mrs. Florian. There was Oscar buzz for Mitchum, but that buzz didn't translate into a nomination. The film was named one of the year's top 10 films by the National Board of Review.
If You Liked This Movie, You Might Also Like: Murder My Sweet with Dick Powell, The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart, The Long Goodbye with Elliott Gould, Marlowe with James Garner, The Big Sleep with Robert Mitchum, Out of the Past, Chinatown