Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


Nancy Guild and George Montgomery
THE BRASHER DOUBLOON (1947). Director: John Brahm.

Private eye Philip Marlowe (George Montgomery of Street of Sinners) is hired by the formidable Mrs. Murdock (Florence Bates) to recover a very valuable coin which he suspects was taken by her own son, Leslie (Conrad Janis). Marlowe is attracted to Mrs. Murdock's somewhat strange secretary, Merle (Nancy Guild of Somewhere in the Night), who seems to be keeping secrets from him. As Marlowe investigates, he keeps tripping over bodies, and uncovers some family secrets and a mysterious death in the past. Along the way he encounters cops, gangsters and gamblers, most of whom have little respect for his health. It all winds up in his office as he unveils the killer and his motives with a piece of provocative film. The Brasher Doubloon is based on Raymond Chandler's "The High Window," and despite being a little too short, is a very good example of both film noir and the detective story. As Marlowe, George Montgomery is excellent -- smooth, handsome and very adept -- but the critics felt he couldn't compare to Humphrey Bogart in the role and he was again mostly delegated to westerns after that. Guild and Janis are on the money, and Bates offers a ferociously dynamic performance as Mrs. Murdock. Roy Roberts is also effective as Lt. Breeze. The picture is full of amusing and sexy scenes such as when Guild holds a gun on Montgomery and orders him to take his clothes off! Director Brahm keeps the movie atmospheric, fast-paced, and suspenseful. Great ending! The Chandler novel was also filmed as Time to Kill some years earlier with Lloyd Nolan playing not Marlowe but Michael Shayne!

Verdict: This long-forgotten movie is a lost gem. ***. 


angelman66 said...

This is one to look for, with that wonderful cast. Character-actor fetishists like me LOVE Florence Bates! Bates even turned up in an early I Love Lucy as the chairman of the Society Matrons League, throwing shade at Lucy and Ethel and their dishpan hands...
Have a great week, Bill!!

William said...

Thanks, Chris, you too! I love and appreciate your comments. I also love Florence Bates, one of those Grand Old Character Actresses they just don't make anymore. She was great as that delightfully condescending chairwoman on Lucy: " we don't disapprove of theater people, as such ..."