A Monotonous Marlowe Murder Mystery
- I am a big fan of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe character but I was let down by Marlowe's third on-screen film noir mystery Lady In The Lake (1947). Robert Montgomery stars in and directs this monotonous film.
Filmed in a first-person point-of-view (a technique that worked out much better in a film noir from the same year called Dark Passage), Montgomery tries to have fun and be unique with Lady In The Lake but the technique is not consistently effective and the pacing is all off. If Montgomery had made the camera - which is basically Marlowe's eyes in the film - move a little bit faster, the film would work that much better. Marlowe looks around and walks so slowly in every scene of the film that it looks like he just got back from giving blood without having any rest or a cookie. Give me a break - nobody walks that slowly, let alone a no-nonsense private eye!
Of course, it does not help the film out any that the acting is also subpar. Montgomery is a dull Philip Marlowe, he is hardly terrible in the role but he somehow manages to make the character boring (which I should maybe be giving him credit for, on second thought, because that is a really hard thing to do) and is, ultimately, the only actor that has failed to impress me as Philip Marlowe. Co-star Audrey Totter can be seen overacting her part at hilarious levels in every frame, you wonder during all the countless times she gives a shriek glance at the camera if her eyeballs are going to pop right out of her head and dangle all about. Really every other cast member is just bad, unfortunately.
But despite all of that Lady In The Lake is not a completely bad film - the lighting is fantastic, the dialogue has its witty moments, and story is intriguing enough to keep you planted in your Lay-Z-Boy for the hour and forty-five minute duration. Still, it is a pretty ho-hum noir overall.
CBC Rating: 5/10