Seven Shadows – Day One: MURDER, MY SWEET

“Now, look, Marlowe – we’re arraigning you. It ain’t personal. We don’t like you, but it ain’t personal.”

I love this line, with its staccato delivery and wry meaning, which comes mere seconds after the start of Murder, My Sweet – a classic 1944 offering from the film noir era starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley and Mike Mazurki (click here to read Andrew’s review of this feature, over at 1001 Films I [Apparently] MUST See Before I Die). Murder, My Sweet features a typically complex noir plot, effective use of light and shadow, and great performances all around. But for me, the best thing about this film is the words. Adapted from the Raymond Chandler novel Farewell, My Lovely, the film’s screenplay was penned by John Paxton, who also wrote three other noirs in three consecutive years – Cornered (1945), Crack-Up (1946), and Crossfire (1947).

“It ain’t personal.”

The language of Murder, My Sweet is like a dark song. Full of meaning, fire and music (to borrow a line from All About Eve), it is sardonic, menacing, humorous, derisive – everything that a first-rate noir should contain.  I offer, then, for my entry in Day One of Seven Shadows Week, some of my favorite quotes from this memorable film. Read on . . .

“Nothing like soft shoulders to improve my morale.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“The joint looked like trouble, but that didn’t bother me. Nothing bothered me. The two twenties felt nice and snug against my appendix.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“I tried to picture him in love with somebody, but it didn’t work.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“Mike Florian ran the joint until 1939. He died in 1940 in the middle of a glass of beer. His wife, Jessie, finished it for him.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“She was a charming middle-aged lady with a face like a bucket of mud.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

A face like a bucket of mud.

“I gave her a drink. She was a gal who’d take a drink, if she had to knock you down to get the bottle.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“That liquor’s been keeping the right company alright. Just hold it careful, mister – ain’t no time to droppin’ it.” Jessie Florian (Esther Howard)

“Suddenly she wasn’t drunk anymore. Her hand was steady and she was cool. Like somebody making funeral arrangements for a murder. Not yet committed.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom. I felt pretty good. Like an amputated leg.” Philip Marlowe

“I’d rather be digging eggshells out of garbage cans than trying to pry information out of you.” Lt. Randall (Don Douglas)

“You’re not a detective, you’re a slot machine. You’d slit your own throat for six bits plus tax.” Lt. Randall (Don Douglas)

“Let’s dispense with the polite drinking, shall we?” Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor)

“My dear Mr. Marlowe, I notice in you an unpleasant tendency toward abrupt transitions. A characteristic of your generation – but in this case, I must ask you to follow some sort of logical progression.” Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger)

“Your thinking is untidy, like most so-called thinking today. You depress me.” Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger)

“You depress me.”

“I could teach you – but to what purpose? Dirty, stupid little man in a dirty, stupid world. One spot of brightness on you and you’d still be that.” Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger)

“I’m glad you hit me. It helps. Helps me a great deal.” Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger)

“Black pool opened up at my feet again, and I dived in. Next thing I remember, I was going somewhere. It was not my idea.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“Speak up, Dr. Jekyll, I’m in a wild mood tonight! I want to go dance in the foam. I hear the banshees calling. I haven’t shot a man in a week.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“When you got a gun in your hand, doc, people are supposed to do what you tell ‘em.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“You’re hanging onto something that’s going to smack you. If I fold now, it smacks you later. If I stick, it smacks you sooner. But cleaner. Maybe that’s why I’m sticking.” Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell)

“Sometimes I hate men. All men. Old men, young men. Beautiful young men who use rose water, and almost heels who are private detectives . . . I hate their women, too. Especially the big-league blondes. Beautiful, expensive babes who know what they’ve got. All bubble bath and dewy morning and moonlight. Inside, blue steel – cold. Cold like that, only not that clean.” Ann Grayle (Anne Shirley)

“Sometimes I hate men. All men.”

“You should know by now that men play rough. They soften you up, throw you off guard, and then belt you one.” Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor)

“I haven’t been good. Not halfway good. I haven’t even been very smart, but I need help. And peace. I need you.” Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor)

“You’re much too nice to be a grubby detective all your life.” Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor)

“You know, this will be the first time I’ve ever killed anyone I knew so little and liked so well.” Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor)

“This will be the first time I killed anyone I knew so little and liked so well.”

“Philip. Philip Marlowe. Name for a duke. You’re just a nice mug. I’ve got a name for a duchess – Mrs. Llewyn-Lockridge Grayle. A couple of mugs. We could have got along.” Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor)

Tune in tomorrow, when our Seven Shadows film of the day will be Mildred Pierce, starring Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, and Ann Blyth.  Andrew D. of 1001 Movies I (Apparently) MUST See Before I Die will offer a review of this superb film here at Shadows and Satin, and I will provide a guest post at his site. Don’t miss it! 

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen by Foster Hirsch. To enter, just leave a comment below or retweet any announcement I make about Seven Shadows on Twitter. Giveaway winners will be randomly selected from all entrants and announced on May 8th. KH

~ by shadowsandsatin on May 1, 2012.

7 Responses to “Seven Shadows – Day One: MURDER, MY SWEET”

  1. Easily my favorite Powell film. The script is wonderful as you so perfectly demonstrate. I look forward to reading your next one. Thanks.

    • I love Dick Powell in this one, too. I have seen this movie several times, but I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this post, how rich the dialogue was! Practically every line offers a memorable quote. (And I even left some out!) Thanks so much for your comments — I look forward to seeing you back again!🙂

  2. I absolutely love it that you literally let the rich, tangy dialogue do the talking in your wonderful review of MURDER, MY SWEET, which has been one of my own favorites for years! This put a big smile on my face, and you guys have gotten your glorious SEVEN SHADOWS Blogathon off to an A+ start!

    • Thanks so much, Dorian! You are a sweetheart. I didn’t set out to do a post about the language of this film (I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do), but it was just lousy with great quotes! : )

  3. You have spotlighted one of the reasons I like Murder, My Sweet so much: the dialogue. Everyone gets great lines in this, which is such a treat, While Marlowe gets some of the more memorable, the ladies get their due, too.

    • Thanks, Kim! You’re so right — this film is brimming with great lines. And everybody has at least one memorable one — even the doctor who shoots Marlowe with the dope!

  4. […] ex-con and a smooth-talking femme fatale. It’s another one with a slew of great lines – click here to check ‘em out. (But first, my) Favorite quote:  “You’re not a detective, you’re a slot […]

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