Farewell, My Lovely was for a long time the Holy Grail for me. I had heard about this film, heard how fantastic it is; as a tremendous fan of detective fiction and film noir, I was therefore dying to see it. Unfortunately, the DVD's been out of print for a couple years (since before I was aware of this movie's existence) and currently sells for outrageous prices on E-bay and Amazon. I'm surprised I'd not heard of Farewell until recently. I've seen Mitchum's turn as Marlowe in the Big Sleep (not as good as this film) and I adore him as an actor. I'm also quite fond of the Chandler novel upon which the movie is based (not quite as brilliant as The Big Sleep, but it tops pretty much every other novel Chandler wrote). All this should add up to me knowing this movie was out there. It did not. In any event, yesterday, I was roaming through the local video store - one of those big chains that has a lot of movies but no real winners - and I stumbled across a copy of Farewell (on DVD no less) whilst looking for another noir (After Dark, My Sweet is what I think it's called). I gladly slapped my $2 down for Farewell instead and ran home to watch it. It was well worth the money (but, because the transfer is awful and its in pan and scan format, not worth the $50 they want for a used copy on Amazon). Like Chinatown, released a year earlier, it has the look and feel of a late-40s detective film. The period detail is spot on and, had it not been for Charlotte Rampling, you would not seem insane for placing the movie's release date a decade or two earlier. Robert Mitchum, as Marlowe, amazes. As much as I love Hawks' the Big Sleep, Bogie never struck me as a Marlowe type. There's a hardness and angularity to his features that, for some reason, gives me pause. He simply doesn't strike me as Marlowe (he is, however, next to Mitchum in this movie the best filmed version of the man. Dick Powell is far too good looking and thin - Marlowe is a bulky man in my mind - and don't even get me started on Elliot Gould). Mitchum, with his oddly shaped head, jowls and labored, husky voice is perfect. The man is, as others have said, an icon and he brings all the Mitchum mythology with him to this role. It helps and makes the performance all the more surprising. What surprises is the softness that occasionally comes through his gruff, cynical exterior (tossing the ball with the kid, for example, or his treatment of Moose and Jessie). Here is a man who legitimately mourns the death of every character in this movie. This seems completely at odds with earlier portrayals of Marlowe (particularly Bogart's cold and eternally cynical performance), but it is a welcome change. The Marlowe of Farewell is, in fact, older and so why not softer as well? Mitchum's performance also flies in the face of the Mitchum-myth. Here, you will not find anything like the men he'd played in Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter. Through his movies and his real like escapades, Mitchum had made a name for himself as a b*****d. In Farewell, he is anything but, giving Marlowe a humanity and chivalric sense of duty present in the Chandler novels but generally absent from the filmed adaptations. The other performances are equally impressive. Rampling seems to channel Bacall from the Big Sleep in a limited but nevertheless effective performance, and Harry Dean Stanton, one of the greatest American actors, appears as a crooked cop. As I said, the period detail is incredible and the direction is unobtrusive. It's as solid a film noir as you're liable to find. If you have the opportunity, please watch it; you will not be disappointed.