Ayo Onatade on Farewell, My Lovely

Day three’s movie, recommended by crime blogger extraordinaire Ayo Onatade, is Farewell, My Lovely, the film of Raymond Chandler’s great noir classic of the same name.


Farewell, My Lovely is my favourite crime novel and it just so happens that the 1975 film version of Raymond Chandler’s 1940 novel featuring Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe is one of my favourite films.

Part of Farewell, My Lovely is told in flashback. In fact the start of the film sees Phillip Marlowe in a rather seedy hotel talking about what took place, as the police are also demanding answers from him. Like for example another noir film The Maltese Falcon, Farewell, My Lovely has been made into a number of films but it is the 1975 version that is considered to be the best, and the one that is the most faithful to the book.

The plot briefly is as follows: Farewell, My Lovely is set in Los Angeles circa 1941, and Marlowe has been hired to find ‘Velma’, the girlfriend of a big, burly ex-convict thug called Moose Malloy. Having been in jail, Malloy has not seen his girlfriend for quite some time.

At the same time Marlowe is investigating the death of a client who had been the victim of blackmail, and who has also had a jade necklace stolen from him. Soon both cases become connected and Marlowe finds himself being drugged and held captive by a psychopath. The resolution takes place on board a gambling boat.

So why is Farewell, My Lovely also my ‘read a great movie’? When I am asked who is my favourite crime writer, I often hesitate. Not because I don’t want to tell anyone, but because I have such eclectic taste. However, when pushed I will say Raymond Chandler and, of all his books, Farewell, My Lovely is my favourite.

Adaptations of novels sometimes work and when they do work, they are a joy to behold. For me, this is the case with Farewell, My Lovely. From the start of the film you get the impression of the memorable underbelly of Los Angeles. The film’s twisty plot and the moody ambience enhance Mitchum’s excellent casting as Chandler’s hard-boiled private eye Philip Marlowe.

Jack O’Halloran as Moose Malloy and Charlotte Rampling as Helen Grayle/Velma are also first-rate portrayals, and despite the fact that Malloy is a thug, at times you can’t help feeling sorry for him.

As for Helen Grayle, she is seductive and one can understand why Marlowe becomes attracted to her.

As much as the film shows the sleazy, corrupt and bigoted side of Los Angeles, it also tells a damn good story. Furthermore, it has some of the wittiest lines of dialogue going. When you are reading the book you can understand why Farewell, My Lovely certainly falls into the ‘read a great movie’ category!

Ayo Onatade is a crime fiction reviewer, blogger and all-round expert. You can find her writing here and here for all things crime related, and what she doesn’t know about crime fiction . . . well, there probably isn’t anything she doesn’t know about crime fiction.