Sunday, March 23, 2014

POODLE SPRINGS (1998) - Bob Rafelson

Caan dons the Philip Marlowe fedora in this solid made-for-HBO movie, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's final unfinished novel with help from Robert B. Parker and playwright Tom Stoppard. A little "sleepier" than the classic The Big Sleep and shorter than Altman's superior The Long Goodbye, Poodle is still a fine whodunit. Most of the enjoyment comes not from parsing the scattershot plot but from seeing the iconic ladykiller detective in newly-married, recently-retired mode. As far as big screen Marlowes go, Caan isn't quite Bogart. He's more classical in his approach than the rambling, shambling Elliott Gould. I'd say he's squarely in the Robert Mitchum ballpark.

As for the rest of the cast, there are solid turns by Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers!) as Marlowe's rich bride, David Keith (An Officer and a Gentlemen!) as a sleazy porn photographer with multiple names and Joe Don Baker (Fletch!) as...well, Joe Don Baker but with much more money than usual. Also, it's good to see that director Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces) ended the decade on a solid noir note. After the two '90s Nicholson duds (Man Trouble and Blood and Wine), I had kind of scratched him off the must-see list.

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