Filmsite Movie Review
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
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The Story (continued)

In the next scene set in the police-station, Marlowe had already reported Marriott's murder, but Police Lieutenant Randall was skeptical and disbelieving of Marlowe's alleged story. He wondered why Marlowe seemed so clueless - he didn't know how much money the deceased was carrying ("the payoff") for the questionable transaction, and it was unusual that Marriott had trusted him so much. The detective joked about how he might have stolen the money himself and murdered Marriott: "Right after I beat Marriott's brains out, and just before I hit myself in the back of the head, I hid the money under a bush."

Randall accused detective Marlowe of being used by a "jewel outfit" as a "utility man for contacts and payoffs" and then afterwards, the blackmailers planned to rid themselves of him by "hang(ing) a murder around his neck." Marlowe retorted: "Oh great. Now I'm a finger for a heist mob. Also, I'm Jack the Ripper." Marlowe insisted that he was innocent, had cooperated with the authorities, and had swiftly reported the killing ("Either book me, or let me go home").

Randall was distrustful and antagonistic toward the unscrupulous Marlowe's work as a mercenary detective, and vowed to find Marriott's murderer himself: "You're not a detective. You're a slot machine. You'd slit your own throat for 6 bits plus tax...All I want from you is silence. One false move and you'll be locked up as a material witness....Go on home to bed, and stick to your story if you wanna. Play it dumb, Play it any way, but stay out of my way. And stay out of the way of Marriott's pals." Randall mentioned that the real kingpin of the jewel heist mob was aristocratic master-crook and blackmailer Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger), who was being closely investigated for his involvement in setting up rich women with valuable jewelry as targets. Against orders, Marlowe seemed interested in conducting his own investigation into Marriott's suspicious connections with Amthor.

On his return to the office the next day, Marlowe was confronted again by a prettier visitor - a young Post reporter who claimed her name was Miss Allison. The wily female implied that she was researching and reporting on the Marriott murder, and asked for information to increase her credibility: "Did Marriott tell you who owned the jade he was buying back?" When he denied knowing the original owner of the jade, she pressed him for his theories about what had happened the night of the murder. The streetwise detective was suspicious of her disguise and ruse from the start. He emptied her purse onto his desk, and looked into her Pacific Bank account book, identifying her as Ann Grayle (Anne Shirley in her final film).

As she fled from his office, he asked her about the Valento photograph: "Have you ever known a Velma Valento, Miss Grayle, a singer?" Marlowe also suspected that she knew the owner of the jade necklace: "Who does it belong to?" He explained that to get himself off the hook as a murder suspect, he had to discover who else might have had an interest in the jade and could have murdered Marriott. Her answer revealed that she was intimately involved in the case, might be trying to sabotage his investigation, and was attempting to help protect her beloved, cuckolded, and helpless father who had married her wicked step-mother. The Grayles were the original owners of the valuable, stolen jade necklace:

The jade belongs to my father...My father happens to be married...She's not my mother.

With Ann driving, Marlowe paid a visit to the huge gated and manicured grounds of the Grayle mansion in posh and ritzy Brentwood (or Beverly Hills). He summarized the immense class divisions between himself and the Grayles with an ironic comment:

(voice-over) It was a nice little front yard. Cozy. Okay for the average family. Only you'd need a compass to go to the mailbox. The house was all right too, but it wasn't as big as Buckingham Palace.

When summoned by Ann to enter the Grayle drawing room through the cavernous lobby, Marlowe kicked up his heels and played hopskotch on the black/white checkered-tiled marble floor of the millionaire's mansion (recalling Powell's days as a Busby Berkeley singer-dancer). He first met Ann's elderly, 65 year-old biological father Mr. Lewin Lockridge Grayle (Miles Mander), and then his much younger, sexually-enticing blonde second wife Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor again) - a temptress wearing a white playsuit top (with some midriff showing), who wore a flower in her hair, and prominently showed off her legs and her ankle-strapped high heels with her skirt hiked up.

While Marlowe was being distracted, Mr. Grayle described his intense interest in collecting rare and extremely-valuable Feitsui Jade, the same type of jade as the Grayle's stolen necklace (with "60 beads of about 6 carats each") worth an estimated $100,000 dollars, that was involved in Marriott's ransom transaction. Mrs. Grayle admitted that she was "reckless" to have worn the valuable necklace outside her home, since it invited an inevitable theft at gun-point ("stick-up"), but she provided no details of the robbery. Feeling tired, the somewhat oblivious Mr. Grayle left the living room with Ann, stressing that the Grayles soon hoped to locate the stolen necklace "without publicity."

Marlowe was left with the treacherous, alluring, flirtatious, and mysterious spider-woman femme fatale Mrs. Grayle, who immediately set the tone: "Let's dispense with the polite drinking, shall we?" She confirmed for him that the ransom payment to retrieve the necklace from crooks was $8,000 dollars, and Marriott had offered to deliver it for her.

According to Mrs. Grayle, the "hold-up" robbery of her necklace occurred after a night of dancing with Marriott (referred to as "Lin"), when he was driving her home, but she quickly added to avoid suspicion about her frequent dalliances with other "pretty guys": "I'm very fond of my husband." When Marlowe asked her about her knowledge of notorious and sinister Jules Amthor and whether he was a "bad-boy" or not, she answered that the two were pals: "A lot of Lin's friends are, I'm afraid. Lin was rather a heel himself, but he was a nice heel." She calmly feigned responsibility for Marriott's brutal murder after she had foolishly (but innocently she claimed!) allowed him to exchange the ransom for her necklace: "It seemed quite simple to buy it back." Marlowe also asked: "What's Amthor's racket?" She replied that he was a quasi-therapist: "Some sort of psychic consultant. A quack, probably" - and then described how Marriott was one of Amthor's patients (treated for issues regarding his ambivalence about being a sculptor and his "fear of failure"). Ann burst into the room and was spiteful to find Marlowe and her step-mother on the verge of kissing each other while he held her hand, and promptly left.

[Note: Mrs. Grayle's seduction was intended to convince Marlowe to help protect her from Amthor - for a number of reasons later revealed. He was blackmailing her with his knowledge of her criminal past (determined through therapy - she was also Amthor's patient), her infidelities with Marriott, and for her criminal associations with others.]

Mrs. Grayle unofficially hired Marlowe to help locate her allegedly-stolen jade necklace worth $100,000, and to "smoke out" Amthor, whom she claimed was "quite inaccessible." However, at that very moment, the doorman announced the surprise arrival of Jules Amthor wearing a dark fitted suit, who entered the room.

[Note: Amthor's inopportune arrival belied her words. She claimed that she hadn't seen him in months. It signaled that Amthor was well-known to her, and possibly having an illicit relationship with her as well.]

After the debonair Jules Amthor (also with a female name like Marriott's) with a white carnation in his lapel shook hands with Marlowe, Mrs. Grayle introduced him as "a private detective - he was with Lin when..." - Marlowe interrupted: "I was hired as a bodyguard and bungled the job. Now I'm investigating myself." To size Amthor up, Marlowe hinted that the police suspected that Amthor was linked with Marriott and were investigating his dealings: "They told me not to get too close to you - said you'd bite." As Marlowe opened the door to leave, he caught Ann eavesdropping on their conversation.

Later in his dingy one-room bachelor apartment, Marlowe was visited by a well-dressed Helen Grayle in a glittering, ominous black dress. Even though he was in an undershirt with a makeshift belt around his pants, she complimented him on his physique ("Hmmm, you've got a nice build for a private detective"). He divulged some of his past work history: "I worked for the DA, got fired...for talking back." Then, she delivered an envelope containing a retainer fee for his official services to stay on the case. He asked about her discussion with Amthor, but after deflecting the question, he remained stand-offish. She instead invited him to join her for a drink at the Cocoanut Beach Club.

Immediately upon their arrival in the Asian-styled cocktail lounge, she excused herself to powder her nose - but then stood him up. [Note: It was one of the first indications that Marlowe knew he was being played, since she never returned.] As Marlowe sat down in one of the booths, Ann leaned forward into view. He cautioned her about jealously confronting her stepmother in public, but she wasn't concerned, knowing her mother's true nature to mislead him: "There's no danger. You're being sidetracked. Helen's gone by now." Marlowe explained how he had been hired to find Helen's necklace: "She wanted me to kiss her and find her jade necklace. I may have the order wrong, but that's the general idea." Ann upped the ante to buy him off - to specifically hire him away from her stepmother, noting that he'd been bought off before:

Whatever she was willing to pay you, I'll up it. Just stay away from her. Forget the whole thing....Would it be worth $1,000 dollars?

Marlowe noticed the abrupt presence of "Moose" (who was obviously following him) at the bar who then signaled that he wanted to talk. The PI left the table and the two chatted on the outside patio overlooking the beach. The persuasive and insistent "Moose" repeated twice: "Ditch the dame!" and forcibly dragged Marlowe away to meet some "guy." As Marlowe passed by his booth on his return into the club, he noticed that Ann had disappeared although she had left a short note and her address (in East Hollywood Hills) and phone number on a drink coaster:

I'll keep the offer open. Ann Grayle, 962 No. Hoover, OL 6924.

Meanwhile near the stage, "Moose" had already become entranced by the exotic Asian showgirl (Bernice Ahi) providing the club's dance entertainment, equating the cheap showgirl with his lost Velma: "Cute, huh?"

The two were driven by Amthor's uniformed chauffeur (John Indrisano) to an underground parking garage (presumably in Hollywood). They were directed to a service elevator where Marlowe was forced to surrender his hand-gun. At gunpoint, he was ushered into master-crook Amthor's fancy high-rise penthouse apartment. Amthor bragged about his view all the way to the harbor in the port city of San Pedro, and then insisted that Marlowe "follow some sort of logical progression." He led the discussion with Marlowe, asking about his reputation or "relationship with the police." As the two sized each other up, Marlowe responded with a question of his own: "They've either got something on you, or they're trying to get it....What's your racket?" Amthor admitted he was in a "sensitive profession" as a "quack" who dealt in the advanced field of psychic treatment - often criticized.

Obviously, Marlowe was irritated and doubtful of Amthor's answer. He countered Amthor with the claim that Marriott's blackmail schemes and dirty dealings with Amthor were designed to set up rich women as likely jewelry-theft targets:

Marriott was a blackmailer of women. He was good. Women liked him around. His interest in clothes and jewelry came easy. But he wasn't the whole works. Somebody told him which women to cultivate so he could load 'em up with ice [jewelry], take 'em out dancing, then slip to the phone and tell the boys where to operate.

Amthor reacted with slight disgust and disappointment at Marlowe's criminal assessment, but also knew that Marlowe was clueless: "Your thinking is untidy, like most so-called thinking today. You depress me. Suppose your theory were correct. I would have Mrs. Grayle's jade now, wouldn't I?" Marlowe quipped: "Unless something went wrong and you haven't got it." He reasoned hypothetically that things would have gone wrong if Marriott double-crossed Amthor by hiring a "private dick" to protect himself, in order to abscond with the necklace for himself:

Marriott could've lost his nerve and rung in a private dick. Take a private dick who'd risk his neck for 100 bucks. He might get ambitious. He might figure that an expensive necklace would be a nice thing to have in the bank.

Amthor proposed to buy the necklace back from the hired "private dick" (presumably Marlowe himself) - but Marlowe denied even having the necklace. Amthor, who thought Marlowe might be bluffing in order to gain information, demanded a second time:

I want that jade. I'm prepared to buy it from you if you have it, or if you can get it.

Marlowe again repeated: "Supposin' I haven't got it, or supposin' I don't want to sell."

Suddenly, the impatient, single-minded "Moose" burst into the room, and demanded to know the whereabouts of Velma Valento (Amthor had presumably hired strong-arm "Moose" to deliver Marlowe to his penthouse, promising that Marlowe would reveal where he was keeping Velma). The lug realized that he may have been tricked by Amthor, although was told that Marlowe was lying to deceive the strong-armed "Moose": "He's lying. He knows where your girl is." Marlowe defended himself against Amthor's lies:

Well, if he tells you he knows where Velma is, he's nuts. He just picked you up to do his dirty work. He's after some jewelry. He thinks I've got it. Why don't you ask him about Velma?

Moose was quickly angered (he had already tossed the chauffeur away) and physically grabbed Marlowe, who shouted back: "I haven't got her, you nitwit!" and struck Moose in the face. Marlowe was grabbed by the neck and choked as Amthor directed Moose to apply pressure Marlowe with physical force. He kept asking: "Where's the necklace? Just tell me and I'll stop him." A few moments later, Amthor ordered "Moose" to release his grip on Marlowe's throat, and then insulted the PI:

A dirty stupid little man in a dirty, stupid world. One spot of brightness on you, and you'd still be that. Isn't that so?

Aggravated by insults, Marlowe struck Amthor in the face - and Amthor retaliated by whipping Marlowe with the butt of his gun - it knocked him unconscious. Marlowe described his distorted psychological state (an out-of-focus shot followed by a second instance of the oozing of black liquid covering the frame) as he was dragged away and interrogated further:

(voice-over) The black pool opened up at my feet again, and I dived in. Next thing I remember, I was going somewhere. It was not my idea. The rest of it was a crazy, coked-up dream. I had never been there before.

While hallucinating in a memorable expressionistic montage sequence, he imagined himself wavering, falling, and floating. Standing over him as he was assaulted and roughed up were the externalized, disembodied, super-imposed giant figures and heads of Moose and Amthor. He stepped backwards down a staircase and fell off when the railing vanished. He was being questioned by echoing voices: "Where's the necklace?" He descended into a swirling, dark gyroscopic pit, and then in his drug-induced nightmare (with a spider-web overlay), experienced from his perspective, he was pursued by a spectral, white-coated doctor with a giant hypodermic needle (filled with truth serum) to get him to talk. He fled through a series of four locked doors that diminished in size. When injected, he shrunk in size as he fell further into the revolving whirlpool pit. The crazed dream state ended when the camera came to rest on a spinning overhead light fixture that finally became stationary. [Note: It was about three days later.] Double-exposed spider-cobwebs covered the camera lens, as it descended to locate Marlowe. The stubble-bearded, profusely-sweating Marlowe, in his underwear with a ripped white shirt, awoke on a sanitarium bed. He was disoriented, fuzzy-minded and staring up at the light fixture.

(voice-over) The window was open, but the smoke didn't move. It was a gray web woven by a thousand spiders. I wonder how they got them to work together.

He yelled outloud: "Help!", then helplessly sobbed and laughed. A burly attendant (Jack Carr) with a sap in his hand entered the room followed by Moose, as Marlowe continued to babble and was evaluated: "I think this guy's nuts." After they left, Marlowe thought to himself that he had been drugged - and the surrealistic environment continued to disorient him. He struggled to get dressed, sober up and convince himself to escape, although he could barely walk:

(voice-over) My throat felt sore, but the fingers feeling it didn't feel anything. They were just a bunch of bananas that looked like fingers. I wondered what I was shot full of - something to keep me quiet or something to make me talk. Maybe both. OK, Marlowe, I said to myself, you're a tough guy. You've been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you're as crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let's see you do something really tough, like putting your pants on. OK, you cuckoo, walk and talk. What about? Anything. Everything. Just talk and keep walking. You're getting out of here. That's a beautiful bed. Stay off it! Walk! I walked. I don't know how long. I didn't have a watch. They don't make that kind of time in watches anyway. I was ready to talk to somebody.

Marlowe was able to break out of his imprisoning room after knocking out the attendant with a bedspring removed from the bed-frame. He grabbed the attendant's sap ("That'll quiet your nerves, pally"), locked the door from the outside, and stumbled down the stairs to the locked front door before entering the downstairs office of Dr. Sonderborg (Ralf Harolde), Amthor's associate. After grabbing a set of keys, Marlowe was told he had been a "very sick man" for three days. When the doctor reached for a gun in his desk drawer, Marlowe swatted his hand with the attendant's sap, grabbed the gun, and then admitted:

I had a nightmare. A lot of crazy things. I slept. I woke up, and the room was full of smoke. I was a sick man. Instead of pink snakes, I got smoke. Well, here I am, all cured.

Dr. Sonderborg provided Marlowe's diagnosis: "You've been suffering from narcotic poisoning." Marlowe accused the doctor of pumping him up with drugs to get him to talk, and was obviously still suffering from their effects: "Speak up, Dr. Jekyll. I'm in a wild mood tonight. I want to go dance in the foam. I hear the banshees calling. I haven't shot a man in a week." The doctor attempted to remain calm: "You very nearly died, sir. I had to give you digitalis."

Before leaving the sanitarium (a front for Amthor's blackmailing ring), Marlowe asked how Amthor would react to the doctor's failed attempt to get him to confess to having the jade necklace: "Will Amthor be disappointed in you? Never disappoint Mr. Amthor. It depresses him." The woozy Marlowe was about to faint and collapse (the spider cob-webs overlay returned), and he followed the doctor's instructions to relinquish the sap and the set of keys. However, he recovered, demanded the front door key back, ripped out the phone cord, and exited the sanitarium.

He wandered over to the corner of 2300 W. Descanso St. outside the sanitarium, where he failed to hire a parked and awaiting taxi-cab. Again, the brutish Moose suddenly appeared before him and repeated his same obsessive quest: "I like you to keep looking for Velma." He wised up and admitted that Amthor had been using him: "He was kidding with me." Marlowe concurred, and described how Amthor was somehow involved with 'Velma': "He was waving a fish in front of your nose, so you wouldn't find your gal. Nobody's supposed to find her. I think he's got other plans for her." Moose assisted Marlowe into the parked cab on the street after ignoring the cabbie's excuses and breaking the fare box, and then took off alone.

[Note: Undoubtedly, "the big stir-bug" Moose anxiously headed directly for Amthor's penthouse to stop the "kidding" and force him to divulge Velma's whereabouts - he accidentally killed him.]

Meanwhile, in the cab, Marlowe noted how exhausted he was and that he needed rest [Note: The Spanish word 'Descanso' meant 'rest' or 'break']: "I wanted to go home and sleep a couple of hundred years, but I couldn't." To avoid surveillance by Nulty at his own apartment and office, Marlowe directed the cab to Ann's address at the Barcelona Court Apartments, a Spanish-styled complex on North Hoover St.. She tried to refuse his entry as he asked for food: "Black coffee, eggs, and a scotch and soda." She became more sympathetic to his 'drunken' state when he described being taken as a hostage: "Helen fixed me up a blind date with Amthor and a couple of his whipping boys." When she asked: "What happened? Are you all right?" - he recalled her voice and similar question the night of Marriott's murder, and realized she was at the canyon:

What were you doing out there in the canyon the night Marriott was killed? I just remember how it happened. I was lying on my face because I'd been banged on the head, and somebody threw a flashlight on me and asked me: 'Was I all right?' And then she said, 'What happened?' Yeah, it was a girl, a girl with red hair, a crooked nose, and a nice figure.

She denied killing Marriott but implicity admitted that she was there. Marlowe was still suspicious of Ann's motives and wondered if she could be trusted:

You weren't just taking a hike. You found out something was gonna happen out there. Knowing your methods, I'd say you overheard Marriott and Helen making some sort of arrangements about the jade. Well, you knew Marriott had been holding hands with her at least. You didn't like that... you didn't like him. You don't like anybody that has anything to do with Helen. What are you trying to do, reform her?

Ann swiftly replied: "I hate her!...I hate her, but she's married to my father and she means a great deal to him. I'm fond of my father. It's more than being fond - it's not the sort of thing I'd expect you to understand, because it doesn't have anything to do with money. I just don't want anything to hurt him." Marlowe speculated that the jealous Mr. Grayle might have decided to kill Marriott, and Ann was there to prevent him - although both thought that was improbable.

Ann explained how she had been able to contact Marlowe so soon after the murder, masquerading as a reporter. She reassured him by showing him the handwritten note that she had found in the dead Marriott's pocket, with Marlowe's name and phone number.

They were interrupted by the arrival of Lieutenant Randall and Nulty who had been on his trail for three days. Marlowe told them Amthor had found him first and had given him "quite a party." He began to describe what he knew about the king-pin ("tough cookie"), who had been working in tandem with Marriott:

He works some kinda complicated jewelry routine on gals who come to him with broken-down libidos. I think Marriott was his contact man...The jewelry Marriott was supposed to be buying back was a jade necklace belonging to one of Amphor's patients, worth about $100,000 dollars. Marriott might have been crossing up Amthor. I don't know, anyway, he fumbled the ball...Amthor figured I must have picked it up. But he figured wrong. I disappointed him. I didn't have the jewelry and I didn't talk. But he, uh, has a little rest home where you learn to talk. It's operated by a guy who calls himself Dr. Sonderborg. He's a whiz with a hypo. It's at 23rd and Descanso.

When pressed for the identity of Amphor's patient, the owner of the $100,000 dollar jade necklace, Marlowe pleaded ignorance. After the cops left, Ann sympathized with Marlowe's continual endangerment and confusion:

Ann: I think you're nuts. You go barging around without a very clear idea of what you're doing. Everybody bats you down, smacks you over the head, fills you full of stuff, and you keep right on hitting between tackle and end. I don't think you even know which side you're on.
Marlowe: I don't know which side anybody's on. I don't even know who's playing today.

She urged him to help her protect her helpless father: "Whatever's happening, you must believe in father. He's no match for anybody."

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