Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Lady in the Lake (1947)


Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Lady in the Lake (1947)

In director/star Robert Montgomery's film-noir murder mystery (an adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel), noted for its unusual and gimmicky film perspective - shot from the first-person POV ("subjective camera") of the main hard-boiled detective:

  • the opening prologue, in which the main character - mystery writer/detective Phillip Marlowe (Robert Montgomery), introduced the plot, and alerted viewers to watch for clues: ("...Right now, you're reading in your newspapers and hearing over your radios - about a murder. They call it 'The Case of the Lady in the Lake.' It's a good title. It fits...You know, some cases of murder start when that door there behind you opens up and a fellow rushes in all covered with sweat and confusion, and fills you full of bad dope about the setup. But some cases, like this one, kind of creep up on you on their hands and knees. And the first thing you know, you're in it up to your neck. You'll see it just as I saw it. You'll meet the people, you'll find the clues, and maybe you'll solve it quick, and maybe you won't. You think you will, eh? Okay, you're smart. But let me give you a tip. You've gotta watch them. You've gotta watch them all the time. Because things happen when you least expect them")
  • the intriguing, twisting plot, beginning in the office of Kingsby Publications, Incorporated, where Marlowe met with the pulp magazine publisher's conniving, self-interested and witchy executive Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter), who hired Marlowe to find Chrystal Kingsby (Ellay Mort) - the promiscuous missing wife of millionaire editor-in-chief Derace Kingsby (Leon Ames); allegedly, Chrystal had run off to Mexico two months earlier, according to a telegram, with muscle-bound, smarmy, smooth-talking gigolo boyfriend Chris Lavery (Dick Simmons)
  • the camera's (Marlowe's eyes) following of the publisher's receptionist, a flirtatious blonde bombshell (Lila Leeds)
  • Marlowe's suspicions were that Kingsby's tough-girl, manipulative, witchy and kittenish editor-assistant and career woman Adrienne Fromsett was interested in her boss, the rich editor-in-chief Kingsby; Adrienne was eager for Kingsby to begin divorce proceedings against Chrystal, or to find Chrystal dead, so that she could marry her boss; the plot became even more complex when Kingsby denounced Adrienne for her scheming ways, and announced that he had no plans for divorce; angered, Adrienne fired Marlowe, who was then hired by Kingsby to find his wife.
  • on his second visit, Marlowe's surprising encounter, in the residence of Chris Lavery, Chrystal's gigolo lover, with the alleged, fast-talking landlady Mrs. Fallbrook (Jayne Meadows), who had a gun in her hand (she said she found it on the stairs); she claimed she was there to collect the overdue three months rent
  • soon after, Marlowe's discovery of running water in Lavery's bathroom, bullet holes in the shower door glass, and Lavery's corpse slumped on the shower floor (the killer was presumably Mrs. Fallbrook/Mildred/Muriel)
  • the character of Lieutenant Degarmot (Lloyd Nolan), a love-struck police officer who had partnered with Mrs. Fallbrook (an alias name, actually Mildred Havelend), to hide and cover up the fact that Mildred was involved in the death of her previous employer's (a Bay City doctor) wife named Florence Almore, by asphyxiation in her car: (Marlowe: "You're Mildred Havelend. You murdered the Almore woman"), although Degarmot's covered-up investigation ruled it was a suicide; afterwards, Mildred "double-crossed" Degarmot by changing her name to Muriel Chess (after marrying Bill Chess, Kingsby's caretaker) with the intent to hide and get away from "tough cop" Degarmot
  • the discovery of a decomposed corpse in Little Fawn Lake ("lady in the lake") near the Kingsby's summer cabin; because the body was unidentifiable, it was speculated that Kingsby's caretaker, Mr. Chess, had murdered his wife Muriel; Adrienne thought otherwise - that Chrystal Kingsby had killed the detested Muriel
  • Marlowe's revelation that the corpse belonged to the missing Chrystal Kingsby, although Mildred made it look like the corpse was her alter-ego Muriel's - as Marlowe explained it: (Marlowe: "The lady in the lake, instead of being you, is Chrystal Kingsby. Is that an accident?"); Mildred/Muriel and Chrystal fought over handsome male Chris Lavery - this rivalry was clearly Mildred's motive to kill Chrystal and make it look like Muriel was the dead body in the lake, so she could run away: ("Muriel's been found dead, and Chrystal's missing"); Mildred admitted: ("Yes. Chrystal and I traded clothes one night. She had on my things, and I had on hers. We went across the lake to see if we could fool my husband, Bill Chess, that was my husband"); Marlowe deduced: ("And Chrystal fell in the lake and sank to the bottom"); after the drowning/murder, Mildred fled and ran away with Chris Lavery to El Paso - he "was the only one who knew the real identity of the lady in the lake" - the reason that Mildred later killed him too
Lieut. Degarmot's Anger at Mildred for Being Double-Crossed -
He Shot Her to Death
  • the final resolution when Lieut. Degarmot arrived and described his feelings of double-cross by Mildred after he had helped her cover up the Almore murder: ("People aren't safe with a woman like you in the world and people have to be protected. I never expected to find you here tonight. I thought you were dead. I wish you were, because you're a murderess. And this time, dead's the way I'm gonna leave you... the night Florence Almore died (and) you made a sucker out of me. Even after you ran away, I still loved you. You made a clown outta me, a bad cop. But tonight's the end of it, and of you"); Marlowe attempted to dissuade Degarmot: ("The Almore case won't come up. They'll convict her for Chrystal's murder or Lavery's. You'll be clear"), but Degarmot shot her multiple times - point-blank - in view of Marlowe, as she begged: ("No. Please, please wait. Don't honey. Honey, we were gonna, we were gonna be a guy and his girl, that's the way you said it, I remember those very words, I remember...All our dreams can come true if you'll only just...Please! I love you, remember, I'm your girl")

Introduction of Plot by Phillip Marlowe

Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter) in Publisher's Office

Flirtatious Blond Office Receptionist

Chris Lavery
(Dick Simmons)

Marlowe Questioning Adrienne's Motives

Mrs. Fallbrook (Jayne Meadows) (aka Mildred) - The Deadly Landlady

Lavery Shot Dead in Shower


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