James Garner is “Marlowe”

Marlowe (Warner Archive)

James Garner is Philip Marlowe in the 1969 adaptation of “The Little Sister” (the least of Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe novels, perhaps, but still a Marlowe novel), but it should come as no surprise that he more resembles a certain seventies TV private eye. When he quips, in perfect deadpan, “Does you mother know what you do for a living?” as a couple of thugs go to work on him, it sounds a lot more like the future Jim Rockford than the past Philip Marlowe.

Which actually makes Marlowe a lot of fun in its own right. Marlowe is the down-at-heels private detective in the modern L.A. of the late sixties, not quite old school and just a little bit of the urban tough guy in the swinging sixties, which looks more go-go than groovy baby in this incarnation. Hired to find a runaway brother by a young woman whose name—Orfamay (Sharon Farrell)—and drawl identify her as a rural hick in the big city, Marlowe gets tangles in a plot that encompasses gangsters, a movie star (Gayle Hunnicutt) and her protective stripper roommate (Rita Moreno), blackmail, murder by ice-pick, a doctor who laces the cigarettes he hands out to nosy PIs and Bruce Lee as a stylish thug who trashes Marlow’s office as a form of intimidation.

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Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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