• A wild film, filled with some very high highs and very low lows
  • Robert Montgomery was an actor with over 60 acting credits who even received top billing over John Wayne in They Were Expendable in 1945. He used that clout to direct five films and this is his debut
  • It is a groundbreaking film in terms of the use of point-of-view camerawork, subjective camera or first-person-camerawork— for 90% of the film Montgomery (playing Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe) is only shown with his hands (extending out from the camera) or in the mirror. There are these terrible interludes where he also plays narrator and breaks the fourth wall and explains things to the audience he doesn’t need to
There are these terrible interludes where he also plays narrator and breaks the fourth wall and explains things to the audience he doesn’t need to
  • Dark Passage would do this a year later in 1947 with Bogart playing the role of the cameraman and lead actor—Fellini would master this sort of shot (though not the entire subjective film/character) in the early 1960’s with  8 ½, La Dolce Vita and Juliet as characters were walking with the lead character/camera and talking to it (Fellini’s camera more sitting on the character’s shoulder so to speak)
  • The film is absolutely inventive- pans and tilts to simulate eye movement, long takes, tracking shots, using mirrors at angles
The film is absolutely inventive- pans and tilts to simulate eye movement, long takes, tracking shots, using mirrors at angles
  • The film doesn’t have great marks from other critics and I’m scratching my head—the word “gimmick” comes up a lot but I think it’s innovative and fresh if admittedly flawed. Montgomery isn’t great as Marlowe, he’s decapitated by Bogart (also playing Marlowe in the same year in Hawks’ The Big Sleep) in 46’ so maybe that’s why the reputation for this isn’t great as well
  • There are weaknesses as I said, at times the actors, looking right at the camera for long sequences, look like they’re at a bad acting audition. But the artistic and technical successes here largely make up for the flaws—there’s too much to praise. The little touches like the phone receiver obstructing the camera to the big blow out car chase at 68 minutes complete with a tumbling camera for the crash and soft focus to simulate the haziness of a head injury. This is splendid cinema. Again it’s juxtaposed with a jarringly bad interlude of Montgomery giving a speech to the audience to take you out of it—a shame. He explains the ending as well which is nails on a chalkboard
  • They make a concerted effort to make Christmas a character in the film and it works
  • Highly Recommend