Just before Elliott Gould takes to the stage to introduce his gumshoe role of Marlowe in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, the festival will have just run the Bogart/Bacall/Hawks version of The Big Sleep with Bogie in the Marlowe role. A great double feature on any given day of the week. The character was created by Raymond Chandler and has had more then one well known actor take on the role at various points since Dick Powell gave it a go in 1944.

“Okay Marlowe,’ I said to myself. ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough – like putting your pants on.”


Then came the legend of Bogie. “She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up. ”


Robert Montgomery took over in ’47. “When it comes to women, does anybody really want the facts? ”

lady in the lake

Here’s one I haven’t seen with George Montgomery called The Brasher Doubloon from 1947.


The Marlowe character was featured in television in a 1960 series starring Philip Carey that lasted for 26 episodes before returning to the big screen. Assuming the role this time out was a TV graduate, James Garner. He’ll even have to tangle with Bruce Lee. ” I like a man that uses good grammar. You impress me mister Wong. Whom sent you? ”

marlowe lobby

TCM special guest Elliott Gould came next and like Garner before him, he’d have to tangle with a future icon of action when Arnold Schwarzenegger turned up flexing his muscles. “I guess if you’ve got some cold bologna, mayonnaise and bread I’ll hang around for a while. ”


Next up came “The Mitch.” Ask me on any given day and I’ll give you a list of maybe 5 names telling you to pick one. Once you do, I’ll tell you that’s my favorite all time actor. Robert Mitchum always makes the list. He played the part twice in the latter part of the seventies.

“I’ve told you twice. Now, why don’t I make it easy on all of us and tell you what you want to hear? This fairy hired me to exchange a necklace for cash for a friend of his. We drove out to the woods. I shot him. I buried the fifteen grand. I drove my car back to his place, walked *fifteen miles* back to the woods, knocked myself on the head and then called the police. ”


It’s just a matter of time before another big screen adaptation of Marlowe comes are way. Hopefully it’s made by a filmmaker who has a love for all things noir and understands the genre. If there was one coming our way right now, who might you cast as the weathered gumshoe?

Marlowe did turn up once again on cable TV post Mitchum. Powers Boothe and James Caan also gave it their best shot.


caan as marlowe