“How do you like your brandy, sir?”
“In a glass.”
One of the titles most closely identified with 20th century crime fiction, Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep is a vast labyrinth of a film both on and off screen, thanks its winding, intricate series of plot threads, memorable characters, snappy dialogue and, not least of all, the real-life romance of the leading stars. Much like the book, it stands up as one of the true high points of all hardboiled, noir, and detective fiction. Continue reading
Director: Alfred E. Green
The one and only collaboration between Edward G Robinson and James Cagney, Smart Money is an early entry into the gangster era, released on the coattails of 1931’s Little Caesar and The Public Enemy. A bit of an overlooked classic, due to the shift in focus in subject matter, and featuring less controversial elements than the aforementioned films included, it stands up as a film worth revisiting for any fan of the genre.
The Falcon Takes Over
Director: Irving Reis
One of the earliest screen adaptions of Raymond Chandler’s works, 1942’s The Falcon Takes Over is an interesting take on Chandler’s 1940 novel Farewell, My Lovely, the second novel to feature gumshoe Philip Marlowe, which, looking back on them all now, stands out as one of the best entries in the series. At the time, Marlowe himself wasn’t as well-engrained into crime culture as would later become, and so rather than doing a straight adaption, RKO Pictures decided to fit the adaption within their ongoing series featuring George Sanders as amateur sleuth ‘The Falcon’. Continue reading
The Brasher Doubloon
Director: John Brahm
“Rule number one of being a detective – always cash the retainer check before the client has a chance to change their mind.”
One of the lesser-known cinematic adaptions of Raymond Chandler’s works, The Brasher Doubloon is an adaption of Chandler’s 1943 novel The High Window, the third novel to feature legendary gumshoe Philip Marlowe. A somewhat overlooked entry, both now as well as at the time of release, the film never received too much praise, but in viewing the movie recently, it stands up as being a light yet definitely entertaining entry into the Marlowe film series.
The One from the Other
“Detective work is a little like walking into a movie that’s already started. You don’t know what’s happened already and, as you try to find your way in the dark, it’s inevitable that you’re going to stand on someone’s toes…”
Fifteen years after releasing A German Requiem (reviewed here), in 2006 Philip Kerr returned to the ‘Berlin Noir’ series of novels featuring German gumshoe Bernie Gunther, the hardboiled detective reluctantly investigating the underbelly of the Nazi era. Dismissing any concerns which a fifteen year gap may bring, The One from the Other continues the series’ explorations into the underbelly of history’s darkest era. Critically, it proved a triumphant return to the series which, in this reader’s view, exceeds the high standards set by the entries before it, and marked a successful beginning of a ‘second era’ of the series which has continued on a pretty much annual basis since its release. Continue reading