Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Marlowe (1969)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Marlowe (1969)

In Paul Bogart's version of private detective Philip Marlowe, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's 1949 source novel "The Little Sister", with James Garner in a pre-The Rockford Files role:

  • the opening title sequence, using a dynamic camera aperture motif related to the plot, and Orpheus' upbeat jazzy performance of the theme song: "Little Sister"
  • the twisting path that sardonic, private eye sleuth Marlowe (James Garner) followed - in a tale about a set of incriminating photographs of a love affair between popular TV sit-com actress Mavis Wald (Gayle Hunnicut) and transplanted Brooklyn mob-gangster Mr. Sonny Steelgrave (H. W. Wynant), taken for blackmail purposes by Orrin Quest (Roger Newman) (revealed to be Mavis' brother)
  • the alleged plot - a missing persons case: Marlowe was hired by young blonde Kansas girl, Midwesterner Orfamay Quest (Sharon Farrell), to find her missing brother Orrin Quest
  • the off-screen ice-pick neck stabbings of two men - the drug-addicted 'Infinite Pad' flophouse hotel Manager (Warren Finnerty) in the lobby, and low-life, toupeed con-man Grant W. Hicks (Jackie Coogan) in his room in the Hotel Alvarado [Spoiler: Orrin, who was a hotel guest, was the alleged killer]
  • the three-way split-screen sequence, of Marlowe on crossed telephones speaking to his DMV office girlfriend Julie (Corinne Camacho) (on the right), and a photo-processing camera store clerk (Jason Wingreen) (on the left)
  • the revelation that Orfamay Quest was actually the "little sister" of Mavis [Spoiler: Both Orfamay and Orrin were planning to blackmail their sibling Mavis with the photographs]
  • the office trashing scene - when destructive karate expert/bodyguard Winslow Wong (Bruce Lee in his first appearance in a Hollywood film, speaking English), Steelgrave's thug, appeared in Marlowe's office and offered pay-off money to withdraw from the case - that Marlowe refused; then he began punching and kicking out walls, a clothes-rack, the door glass, the overhead light shade fixture, an entire bookcase, and Marlowe's desk
Office Trashing Scene by Wong
  • the death of Wong on a restaurant balcony on a skyscraper, when Marlowe called him gay, then sidestepped and grabbed a ladder on a support column, while Wong went over the side and plummeted to the street far below
  • the sequence of the attempted ice-pick murder of a drugged and groggy Marlowe by lethally-wounded Orrin Quest, who had been shot (off-screen) a few minutes earlier by drug-dealing child psychologist Dr. Vincent Lagardie (Paul Stevens) [Note: Lagardie had drugged Marlowe with a spiked hallucinogenic cigarette]
  • the scene in Steelgrave's luxury home overlooking LA, where Marlowe found Mavis with a gun, and Steelgrave dead in a nearby chair, although Marlowe concluded that Mavis had been framed and was not-guilty (Marlowe concluded that she was innocent - she claimed to be protecting her sister - because no gun residue was on her hand; the likely killer was a friend of Mavis' named Dolores); Marlowe attempted to make Steelgrave's murder look like a suicide to protect Mavis' reputation
  • the Union Station (downtown LA) sequence of Marlowe and Orfamay talking at a lunch counter, when he told her about ice-pick killer Orrin's death by gunshot, and all the other nefarious plots occurring - with a woman seated between them
  • the vicious fight between Mavis and Orfamay in Marlowe's ransacked apartment, ending with Marlowe sending the treacherous Orfamay back to Kansas: ("Kansas is due East"); Orfamay had known about her brother Orrin's blackmailing scheme and wanted to stop him for his own safety
  • the final scene in a LA strip club: Marlowe's questioning of blonde-wigged exotic stripper Dolores Gonzáles (Rita Moreno), Mavis' old friend, and Orrin's partner-in-crime - as she was performing a sexy half-naked strip-tease on stage (at LA's Club Largo on Sunset Blvd.), and confessing her involvement; from backstage, Marlowe figured out that Dolores was Lagardie's ex-wife from Brooklyn when she admitted: ("The streets are paved with forgotten husbands") - and then deduced that she was Steelgrave's moll before being dumped for Mavis [Spoiler: the jealous Dolores was Steelgrave's killer!]: (Marlowe: "It had to be somebody that knew both Steelgrave and Mavis. Somebody who could come and go in her apartment as they pleased. Who had access to the gun Steelgrave gave her. It comes up you!" Dolores: "Like I said, Mavis is a nice girl, but why should she get all the goodies?" Marlowe: "You went to a lot of trouble." Dolores: "And there's nothing you can do about it, is there, unless you want to destroy her? And you wouldn't do that, would you? You dream of those great big eyes of hers")
  • the shocking murder of Dolores - to Marlowe's horror as he was phoning the police department in the club; Dr. Lagardie, in cahoots with mobster Steelgrave, shot her from the left wing of the stage, and then committed suicide backstage

Marlowe (James Garner)

Incriminating Photographs of Mavis with Steelgrave

Split-Screen Phone Conversation

Death of Wong

Conspirator Dr. Vincent Lagardie (Paul Stevens)

Ice-Pick Killer Orrin's Death in Marlowe's Arms

Fight Between Orfamay and Mavis - Two Sisters

Strip-Tease by Dolores Before Being Shot to Death


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