22 mai 1947. Le retour de Philip Marlowe au cinéma, ça ne se manque pas. La promesse pour le spectateur d’assister à de romances coquines, de déductions recherchées, de bagarres violentes est trop tentante. De quoi passer un bon après-midi. C’est ce qu’espère en tout cas notre passant cinéphile lorsqu’il pénètre dans la salle du Roxy pour voir The Brasher Doubloon.
Critique d’époque :
« Pull up a chair, friends of the mystery melodrama, and let’s have a go at The Brasher Doubloon, latest escapade in the busy career of the indestructible Philip Marlowe, which came yesterday to the Roxy. This is the fourth time around for Raymond Chandler’s popular « shamus » and, we might add, his efforts to recover the stolen brasher doubloon, a rare coin with a violent history, is the least of his exploits to date. Perhaps this is due equally to a pedestrian adaptation of Mr. Chandler’s novel, The High Window, to the plodding and conventional direction accorded the film by John Brahm, and to the lack of conviction in George Montgomery’s interpretation of Marlowe.
Mr. Montgomery’s acting is acceptable enough -he makes determined passes at Nancy Guild, a young secretary with a guilt complex of a vague sort, and takes a drubbing at the hands of toughies without uttering a single cry of distress. Then what’s wrong with Mr. Montgomery ? Well, he just doesn’t look the part. Like his namesake, Robert, who played Marlowe in Lady in the Lake, George Montgomery just looks too respectable and intelligent and lacks the ruggedness and borderline honesty of the Marlowes created by Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet and Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep.
The mystery of the missing brasher doubloon clears itself up rather soon after Marlowe has been hired by the wealthy Mrs. Murdock, but his interest in the case is deepened by a series of murders related to the coin and the fact that it is somehow linked to a nasty blackmail plot involving the lady’s pretty secretary. There is no apparent logic in Marlowe’s process of deduction, and his coyness when romancing the mentally disturbed secretary betrays the lack of imaginative direction. The more perceptive among the Roxy’s rockingchair sleuths will no doubt be disappointed by the way the script writers telegraph Marlowe’s unraveling of the mystery in the final sequence and the plodders, like this observer, will be distressed by the marked contrivance of situations.
The best acting in The Brasher Doubloon is done by a pair of veteran character players, Florence Bates as the rich Mrs. Murdock and Fritz Kortner as a desperate seeker-after the fabulous coin. Miss Guild gets by mostly on her looks as the secretary.
Jack Benny and troupe, including Phil Harris, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, Marjorie Reynolds and the Sportsmen Quartet, headline the Roxy’s stage presentation. However, the real star of the first show yesterday was a fellow name of Fred Allen, who raced down the orchestra and up onto the stage yelling « Stop it! Stop it! » and demanding his money back when it was announced that Mr. Benny would render « Love in Bloom » on his fiddle. Mr. Allen’s courtesy appearance, and the only one he will make during Mr. Benny’s two weeks on the Roxy stage, was arranged by the theatre management. Newsreel and still camera men were on hand to record the heckling and ten policemen, plus two dozen private detectives, were stationed around the orchestra—just in case. But they had nothing to do and joined in the general guffaws« . Pour le New York Times.
L’auteur de ces lignes n’a pas signé son papier. Pourtant, je suis tout à fait d’accord avec lui. Le Philip Marlowe à la sauce George Montgomery est bien trop palot. Mon avis détaillé sur cette Pièce Maudite directement ici.