Farewell, My Lovely (1975)

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Released 9-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 91:12
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dick Richards
Studio
Distributor
Avco Embassy
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Mitchum
Charlotte Rampling
John Ireland
Sylvia Miles
Sylvester Stallone
Anthony Zerbe
Harry Dean Stanton
Case Click
RPI $19.95 Music David Shire


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Farewell, My Lovely is a very close adaptation of Raymond Chandler's second novel (of the same name) featuring jaded private eye Philip Marlowe. It represents the first time that veteran actor Robert Mitchum was cast as the famous wise-cracking detective, and his performance is just about perfect in this film. He subsequently starred as Marlowe again in the remake of The Big Sleep (1978).

    This is not the first time Farewell, My Lovely has been adapted for film. An earlier version, entitled Murder, My Sweet, was made in 1945 and starred Dick Powell. I have not seen this other version, but I have been told it takes more liberties with the plot than this one. Of course, if you are a "film noir" buff you may prefer the earlier one which is in black and white - somehow the film noir genre does not seem as stylish in colour. This is not bad as colour films go - apart from a few scenes shot during daytime, most of the action takes place at night and the cinematographer relies heavily on dark muted colours and lots and lots of shadows.

    Part of the story is told in flashback, as the film opens with Philip Marlowe (Robert Mitchum) holed up in a seedy hotel summarising recent events as the police call him on the phone demanding some answers. He has been investigating two seemingly unconnected cases, both of which more-or-less landed in his lap.

    One concerns an ex-bank robber called Moose Malloy (Jack O'Halloran) who has just got out of jail and is desperate to find his girlfriend Velma Valento, a former singer/dancer at a nightclub called Florians. Moose is strong and huge and not afraid of anything, but not too bright, so he hires Philip Marlowe after seeing Philip successfully locating a runaway teenage girl. Florians has become an establishment catering for "coloured" people, and Moose in his enthusiasm in trying to locate Velma accidentally shoots the manager dead. Philip traces Velma through a trail of people who knew her, including fellow band member Tommy Ray (Walter McGinn), Jessie Florian (Sylvia Miles) who is the widow of the former owner of the nightclub, and the path seemingly leads to a mental institution that turns out to be a dead end. In the meantime, a lot of people seem really keen on getting hold of Moose - including the police, represented by Philip's friend Lieutenant Nulty (John Ireland) and his seedy sidekick Billy Rolfe (Harry Dean Stanton).

    The other case involves a mysterious man called Lindsay Marriott (John O'Leary) who wants Philip to assist him in paying ransom money to retrieve a stolen jade necklace, which belongs to wealthy and powerful Judge Grayle (Jim Thompson). His wife Helen (Charlotte Rampling) seems very interested in Philip ...

    As usual, the sleazy, corrupt, and bigoted side of Los Angeles in the 1940s is revealed in this story, and fans of Raymond Chandler novels will not be surprised if I reveal that a mysterious beautiful woman is involved (who of course cannot be trusted), cops are corrupt, and the token gay man will almost certainly get killed. And, of course, some of the wittiest lines of dialogue you'll ever hear. The film takes great pains to remind us that this is Los Angeles in the 1940s and not the 1970s, with copious references to Hitler and DiMaggio.

    Star spotters should note that this film features a very young Sylvester Stallone playing a minor role.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in 1.33:1. Judging by the framing of most of the scenes, this appears to be a full frame or open matte transfer rather than pan & scan, and the intended aspect ratio is probably either 1.85:1 or 1.66:1.

    As transfers go, this is not too bad, although the film source is definitely showing signs of age. As mentioned in the Plot Sypnosis, this is an intentionally dark film with muted, almost monochromatic, colours used in most of the night time scenes to replicate a "film noir atmosphere." The film has a somewhat grainy look which may well be intentional.

    Detail levels are about average, and there are a few shots of newspaper print of which I can only read the headlines and not the text of the news items.

    Fortunately, I did not detect any instances of video artefacts, not even aliasing or shimmering which I attribute to generous video transfer bitrates used for the encoding process. Certainly there would have been no need to limit transfer bitrates as the 91:12 minutes duration fits comfortably onto a bare bone single sided single layered disc.

    The only subtitle track available is English for the Hard of Hearing. It translates most of the dialogue reasonably well, but simplifies some of the complex lines to fit into two rows of text on the screen.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The soundtrack is easy to listen to and does not feature any highlights - good or bad. I suspect the soundtrack is actually mono, although at times stereo effects can be heard. These may be attributable to imperfections in the optical audio track on the film print.

    Dialogue is natural sounding and easy to understand. I did not notice any audio synchronization problems.

    The music score by David Shire fits the mood of the film well and alternates between soulful melodies and suspenseful music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras present on this disc. The main menu is full frame and includes background audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    An earlier Region 1 release by Pioneer Entertainment is now being distributed by Artisan. This is also a bare bones 1.33:1 disc. Therefore, I see no reason to purchase the Region 1 release as it is significantly more expensive than the Region 4 offering.

Summary

    Farewell, My Lovely succeeds mainly due to the fact that the screenplay sticks very closely to Raymond Chandler's novel, but also because Robert Mitchum captures the heart, soul and essence of private eye Philip Marlowe. The video transfer is mediocre but at least gives the film more of a "noirish" look. The audio transfer is likely also mediocre, but acceptable. There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Friday, June 14, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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