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    Farewell My Lovely
    Magna/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . M15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    6.15am, Wednesday. It was yet another cold and wet night. One of these days Iím going to kill that silly dame who punctured my water bed with her stilettos. Trying to see some good in the bad, I dried off and thought Iíd make the most of another wasted morning by looking at my pile of yet to be reviewed DVDs. The Phillip Marlowe film Farewell My Lovely sat at the top of the pile, a lonely DVD with nothing to lose looking for an eligible player with everything to gain. "How bad could it be?", I asked no-one in particular. Playing matchmaker for DVDs was better than the six bucks an hour I was making sweeping up elephant dung at the local zoo. I guess you could say being a hardnosed DVD detective isnít all itís cracked up to be. Sure, there are free movies, easy women and drunken brawls, but itís hard to pay your bills with preview copies of Santa with Muscles and press releases for Ally McBeal.

    So I poured myself a shot of vodka and Milo and settled in to look at the film. It was a gritty, dark crime thriller from the pen of Raymond Chandler, filled with smoky rooms, shady characters and shifty broads. Actually, that was just my lounge room. I really gotta remember to get rid of the bums sleeping on the floor, open the windows to clear out the smoke and check my mum into a retirement village.

    As it turns out, Farewell My Lovely has a downbeat and jaded Marlowe mixed up in a coupla cases that at first seem simple enough, but end up more twisted than a licorice whip in a bag of worms. The first job has him looking for the girlfriend of a thug fresh outta jail. Thereís not much to go by, and the pay is lousy, but he feels sorry for the guy and it sure beats being broke and bored. The second job has him playing protection for a sleazebag in a jewel purchase from a bunch of crims. It should be an easy hundred bucks, but then these things always have a way of coming back and biting you on the ass.

    Maybe a bite on the ass is what everyone involved in this film needed. Even the case is a bit misleading. It has Sylvester Stalloneís name on the front under Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling, but heís only in the film for about eight seconds. If youíre not paying attention, you wonít even recognise him. Even if you do, who cares? Everyone sleepwalks through their roles, even Mitchum seeming more bored than his part dictates. His voiceover sounds bored and fails to draw you into the story, even though there are some cool lines in there.

    In the end, when you evil readers are pointing guns at my head and demanding I just shut up with all the stupid detective talk and give you the lowdown facts, even a tough talking critic like me has to look you square in the eyes and tell it like it is.

    ďYouíre all ugly and your mothers dress you funny!Ē

    Just kidding. Iíll tell you what you want to hear. Farewell My Lovely as a film struggles to make the grade, and doesnít recapture the style of the original black and white classics. And as youíll soon see, the DVD similarly struggles to come up with the goods.

      Video
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    Contract

    As I investigated the DVD further. I wasnít sure whether it was the vodka Milo kicking in, or if I was still half asleep, but this picture sure was dark and brown. At times, Mitchumís skin looked more like tanned leather than human flesh. And I know this is a thriller in the traditional film style, but couldnít they have turned on some lights? A splash of green wouldnít have gone astray either. The 91 minute Farewell My Lovely is presented on a single layer at what looks like an open matte transfer (that's a guess judging by the framing of the shots, otherwise there'd be a lot of cropped heads with just a waggling chin showing, and Iím uncertain as to the original aspect ratio). Like I said, the colour palette is very limited, in many interior shots it sticks to brown and black, and exteriors are the same except thereís more natural lighting. Detail and clarity are all over the place. Shadow detail is at times non-existent. The compression has not been too kind on background areas, if you look closely youíll see parts of the picture waver independently in the frame. All in all, not a fantastic result.

    Soundwise itís ordinary at best and poor at worst, with a very limited Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix. The source is clearly not up to scratch to begin with, not making things easier for the transfer process. At around 18 minutes the sound seems to drop a little and sounds more muffled than usual, most notably in the voiceover, but this clears up a few minutes later. Dialogue, while clear for the most part, is flat and dull.

    It looks like the extras took the 8.05 train to Poughkeepsie and arenít coming back any time soon. In their haste to get out of town, they didnít even leave behind a trailer. This disc is as dry as the bottom of my martini glass. Speaking of which, itís nearly 8 am, which makes it time for a bowl of Kahlua Cornflakes before I leave for work...


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  •   And I quote...
    "Average quality disc, flick about a private dick played by Mitch, with chicks, thick thugs, stones and drugs. Try saying that twice quick."
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB1070
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
      Recent Reviews:
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    "THRILLS! CHILLS! PLASTICINE!"

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    "The people of Earth face their ultimate threat Ė not from the DEVIOUS COMMUNISTS! Not from the WILEY CHINESE! Not even from the sinister ROTARIANS!"

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    "What, indeed, was the point of this film, and why did they write a part for a bloody rooster?"

    Santana - Down Under Live at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion
    "Fans can look beyond the flaws though and just revel in the Gold FM hits without the annoying ads."

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    "Itís your typical Ďlovesick masked psycho meets girl, girl unmasks psycho, psycho goes on rampageĒ story."

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