The expertly remastered Warner Archive February 26, 2109 DVD release of the innovative 1947 noir film "Lady in the Lake" provides a chance to watch a well-produced film that is unlike anything that you previously seen. This version provides the sharp visual contrasts between dark and light that enhance the enjoyment of this genre.
The general concept of this film version of the titular novel by pulp-fiction god Raymond Chandler is boilerplate (pun intended); the execution sets it apart from the better-known fare that particularly showcases the talents of Humphrey Bogart.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Lady" both explains and illustrates the aforementioned innovation. This predecessor to the 1996-2007 children's program "Blue's Clues" has Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) lead the viewer through the investigation around which the film is centered. Additionally, the POV entirely shifts to the perspective of Marlowe after he clues (pun intended) us in on the concept of the film.
The manner in which Marlowe gets embroiled in the latest adventure that proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble and that no one can be trusted also deviates from the norm. Rather than reading a newspaper article about a nefarious act or having a damsel in distress or other asserted innocent come to his office, Marlowe proves to be his own worst enemy from the outset.
Setting the film in the days leading up to Christmas and having it conclude on that special day adds a wonderful touch of cynicism; we learn that death, deceit. and betrayal do not take holidays.
Our adventure begins with the private dick expressing his creativity by writing a short story; this prose catching the eye of pulp-fiction magazine editor A (for Adrienne) Fromsett brings him to her office, On arriving, he learns that the lady doth prevaricate too much.
Fromsett uses the story as a pretense to sell Marlowe on locating the wife/object of monetary-based affection Derace Kinmgsby. The rest of the known story is that Mrs. Kingsby is a runaway spouse purported to run for the border to get a quickie divorce.
The trail stops at the same place that the plot thickens. Fromsett steers Marlowe to a vacation cabin of the Kingsburys. A report of the drowning of the wife of the caretaker validly triggers the spidey sense of Marlowe.
An interview with a local playboy putting Marlowe on the radar of the police, and a cop that Andy Sipowicz of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" would describe as having a hard-on for Marlowe in a not-good way having an interest in the aforementioned death well outside his jurisdiction further prompts potentially fatal curiosity of that cool cat Marlowe.
Marlowe discovering a body and finding himself both repeatedly knocked out and set up for falls keeps things traditional for the noir genre. This climaxes in two gunpoint confrontations that reflect the Bond villain flaw of boasting about your success merely when you have the upper-hand over your pursuer.
The bigger picture is that the experimental nature of "Lake" exceeds the interactive and "through-the-eyes" of perspective, Montgomery is a relatively mild-mannered and light-drinking Marlowe, His quips and Chandleresque imagery is much more subdued than recalled in the novels and definitely in pure classic and neo-noir. All this makes "Lady" more of a traditional murder mystery than a detective novel; thus, it is not your grandfather's Marlowe film.