MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Based on the best selling book “The Little Sister” by Raymond Chandler, “Marlowe” stars James Garner as the classic hard-boiled detective trying to track down a missing person. He faces the mob, a murderer, strippers and even Bruce Lee as a would-be assassin.
WHAT I LIKED
I like a good hard-boiled detective story now and then. Of course, when I think of hard-boiled detectives, my mind immediately goes to pulp fiction, films from the 40s and throwback features made today. I don’t immediately stampede to the late 1960s. However, this backdrop does work for this story in a bizarre way.
Phillip Marlowe (Garner) takes a no-nonsense approach to the character rather than what you might expect. He doesn’t wear a trench coat, and he doesn’t wear a fedora. Instead, he plays it cool against the backdrop of the hippie revolution in Los Angeles. While the story kind of meanders around, “Marlowe” is enjoyable as a period piece, letting us see an older character in a then-modern setting.
It’s also a treat to see Rita Moreno, who was pushing 40 at the time but still looks fantastic as an exotic dancer. And considering this movie carries a PG rating, you get to see quite a bit of her in the money shots. Other great performances come from Carroll O’Connor (though we thankfully don’t see him doing a fan dance or anything) and Bruce Lee in one of his coolest action spots (with one of the best scene enders I’ve seen in a while) outside of his classic kung fu movies.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Like many movies of the late 60s, this one doesn’t hold up completely. While the actors are quite good and fun to watch, the story had a bit to be desired. The plot meanders around, and I was easily distracted. The hard-boiled detective juxtaposed against the hippies was humorous, but it just didn’t go far enough. The hippies showed up only occasionally, and the rest of the film seemed to not know exactly what its purpose was. By the time the mystery is revealed, you’re likely to forget what the actual mystery is.
Like other releases in the Warner Archive selection, “Marlowe” comes without special features.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
James Garner fans and anyone who likes a good detective movie from the 60s or 70s.