Murder, My Sweet is a 1944 film based on Raymond Chandler’s novel Farewell, My Lovely, released in the UK with the original title. The film stars Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, and Anne Shirley. Detective Philip Marlowe is hired by hulking Moose Malloy to locate Malloy’s old girlfriend that he lost track of while serving time in prison. What Marlowe finds is that each lead he follows up confuses the case further and lies compound lies with an eventual discovery of larcenous activity including bribery, perjury, theft and a beautiful femme fatale (Claire Trevor).
Farewell My Lovely had already been filmed once before, in 1942, as The Falcon Takes Over. However, Murder, My Sweet is considered one of the best Chandler adaptations. A 2004 review by DVD Savant Glenn Erickson notes “Murder, My Sweet remains the purest version of Chandler on film, even if it all seems far too familiar now.” It is also considered one of the pre-eminent films noir. Alison Dalzell, writing for Edinburgh University Film Society, notes “Since the ’40s countless mystery and neo-noir films have been made in Hollywood and around the world. Murder, My Sweet is what they all aspire to be.”
Dick Powell was previously known only for light comedies and musicals, so the casting of him as Chandler’s hard-boiled private detective antihero was a surprise to many. The studio changed the title from Farewell, My Lovely because they thought audience would think the film was a musical. Powell’s performance is much debated by fans of Chandler and film noir; some think it too light and comic; others consider it the best interpretation of Philip Marlowe on film.