Turning Clocks Back In 1975
Mitchum Is Marlowe in Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
I went and saw this at least four times in 1975. It was like they'd gone out and made a brand new old movie. The thing was retro to a fault. You could almost forget in hindsight that it was done in color. Robert Mitchum would finally play Philip Marlowe ... in fact, it may have been a first time he'd been a detective ... but wait, there was Out Of The Past, nearly thirty years before. Mitch had stiff competition through the 60's from younger blood like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, who scarved up parts he might have done, and better. They were just younger enough to knock Bob out of games, which was perhaps why he spoke dismissively of McQueen in at least one interview. Well, Mitchum had thirteen years on Steve, and all of them showed. And he'd done a lot of bad pictures. Mister Moses and
Partial reward to Mitch was invite to host Saturday Night Live, but they didn't know what to do with him beyond weirdly satirizing Out Of The Past. I think RM did more private-eyeing in the 70/80's than he had in accumulation of work up to then. These would eventually peter to TV "movies" and dreadful cheapies gone direct to video, but if you watched HBO or Showtime closely, you could catch Mitch in all sorts of degraded circumstance. The nadir came with an NBC sitcom opposite bratty kids. Surely this wasn't for anything other than money. Features seemed done with Bob, other than supporting eccentrics like Bill Murray or Johnny Depp. Farewell, My Lovely may have been his last real roar, and I'm not forgetting a second Marlowe go, which was The Big Sleep remade in modern dress, and in England, but those were two strikes that put Mitch largely out. Who wanted to see him in ugly wide ties like they wore in the 70's? TV did confer a biggest latter comeback with Winds Of War and Remembrance or whatever, and those were like trips back too, only long and sorta dull as doled over sweeps weeks. By this time (early 80's), Mitchum was about the only guy left who looked like he could actually win a war, with or without help from puny players in support.
Farewell, My Lovely could make you forget all those years since they'd made good movies. At least that's how I felt at age 21, but then I had considerable growing up to do. 1974 found me buying a corduroy trench coat that was a ringer for something Mitch or Bogart would wear. Chances are I was clad in it to one/more of the Farewell screenings. A couple of sizes too big at the time, I was ten more years growing into it. Fits fine now. Thank heaven old stars didn't start me smoking cigarettes. I had tried it after screen examples, but one inhale settled hash. These really were tough guys for being able to draw smoke clear down to lungs. Well, they ruined theirs and I've still got mine, so there was at least that advantage to lacking man-up for cigs. Farewell, My Lovely cast other vets besides Mitchum. There was John Ireland as a police detective, always talking about "heat from upstairs." Here was a show determined to be old-fashioned, which was exactly what I wanted then and still enjoy now. David Shire did a score keyed to jazzy and mournful, saluting a past we'd not get back in spite of game tries like Farewell, My Lovely. There was a CD that's now out of print, much like the movie on DVD, which I now note sells for $75 and upward on Amazon. FML does stream in HD at Apple-I Tunes.