Suffering by comparison with The Big Sleep (made a year earlier), this celebrated Chandler adaptation is stubbornly loopy: shot entirely with subjective camera, it lets the audience see the world through Marlowe's eyes. Hired to track down someone's hated wife, you stumble on a dead body, and as Audrey Totter offers you her lips, darkness fills the screen: you have closed your eyes. Even novelty items like mysterious puffs of smoke from invisible cigarettes cannot disguise the high irritation factor in what Chandler himself described as 'a cheap Hollywood trick'. It really needed the magnificent panache of an Orson Welles, who had planned a '40s version of Heart of Darkness - about another Marlowe - in the same subjective style. DMacp.
Cast and crew