The ten film noir posters I wrote about today represent a good range of what the genre had to offer in the 1940s and 1950s—from grubby little B-pictures to tonier Hollywood productions—but it doesn’t include the poster for one of my favorite noirs, 1944’s Murder, My Sweet. (That poster is #53 in Mark Fertig’s book, by the way.) One of the earliest examples of the genre, Murder, My Sweet stars Dick Powell as Raymond Chandler’s oft-depicted detective Philip Marlowe, who takes a simple case that grows more complicated and dangerous with each new lead. Powell plays Marlowe with sublime cool—even though he spends pretty much the entire movie getting beaten up. Meanwhile, director Edward Dmytryk and cinematographer Harry Wild evoke Marlowe’s concussed fog by filling the screen with inky black, giving the film the cloudy, disjointed feel of a dream; and John Paxton’s screenplay honors the punchiness of Chandler’s prose with lines like, “I felt pretty good, like an amputated leg.” Even one of the first lines in the movie gets across the wit and the sting that makes it so special, as a cop questions Marlowe and wearily says, “We don’t like you, but it ain’t personal.” Murder, My Sweet airs tonight at 9:15 p.m. Eastern on Turner Classic Movies. It’s an absolute treat.
August 25, 2014 newsreel