Soaked in period detail, the third remake of Raymond Chandler's eponymous novel is fascinating to look at if a mite leisurely in pacing. Gumshoe Philip Marlowe (Robert Mitchum) is hired by mountainous criminal Moose Malloy (Jack O'Halloran) to find a former girlfriend. Raymond Chandler had many qualities as a writer but reverence was hardly one of them. Thus, the reverence for the period, manifest in the impressively detailed art direction, seems strangely out of place for a writer whose tone of cynical romanticism often expressed contempt for the Los Angeles of the '30s and '40s, the time and place of which he wrote. The film has retained his romanticism but muted his biting wit, and in casting the laconic, aging Mitchum to play the younger, highly verbal detective, and insisting on a halting pace, it casts its lot with nostalgia rather than excitement. But, if less well-made than the previous version, Edward Dmytryk's Murder, My Sweet (1944), the film has its pleasures, among them the iconographic performance of Mitchum, the wonderful camerawork of John Alonzo, and the brooding score of David Shire.
by Michael Costello review