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Monday, March 27, 2006

Probably one of the best film noir movies from the 1940's is "Murder, My Sweet" from 1944. Film noir in the United States was still in its infancy at this time with "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) and "Double Indemnity" (1944) popular early entries representing the form. One of the unique things about "Murder, My Sweet" was the ability of Dick Powell to emerge from singing juvenile parts in the Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930's and transforming into Raymond Chandler’s hard boiled private eye Philip Marlowe. After the popularity of musicals wore off in the late 1930's, Powell, who was now in his mid-30's, was looking for more varied roles. RKO Studios head Charles Koerner decided to go with Powell in "Murder, My Sweet" after seeing the success of lightweight actor Fred MacMurray in an unaccustomed tough guy role in "Double Indemnity".
"Murder, My Sweet" was the second Philip Marlowe mystery from Raymond Chandler and had been bought by RKO for the bargain price of $2,000 in 1941. Originally titled "Farewell, My Lovely", the story had already been used for one of the low budget "Falcon" films with George Sanders. As World War II progressed, Chandler’s stories became more popular coinciding with Hollywood’s darker look at life through the film noir form. If Powell could duplicate MacMurray’s success, the film had a good chance to be a hit.

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