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Five-hundred bucks doesn't come easily for private eye Philip Marlowe (James Garner). But when it comes by way of a bribe, it might as well be five cents. He rejects Winslow Wong (Bruce Lee) and his offer of cash...and Wong promptly karates the detective's office into a junkpile. In a colorful whodunit based on Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, Garner's easygoing style contrasts agreeably with the grim task of sleuthing a case of missing persons, blackmail and ice-pick murders. Carroll O'Connor, Rita Moreno, William Daniels, Sharon Farrell and Jackie Coogan are among the cast of characters living in a sprawling '60s L.A. so hard-boiled somebody's got to crack. And when that happens, it's Marlowe's job to put the pieces together.
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I have purchased both the DVD and Amazon Instant Video, at different times, obviously. I watch this so often I tired of going to get the disc. The video presented here, streaming, is clearly from the same source, the Warner Archive remaster. While they did remaster the film for release on disc, they chose not to release it on Blu-ray and, similarly, did not release an HD streaming copy (at least as of August, 2017). The best disc edition, currently, in the world, is the Warner Archive DVD and the video on the Amazon streaming service, SD, is identical, right down to the little pixellations and flaws during various interchanges throughout the film, which are, fortunately, rare. As such, the picture quality is very good, given the age, and the print shows only minor color distortions, occasionally tending a bit toward yellow but, overall, staying true to color. The sound quality is excellent, given the age of the film, but only very good when compared to modern film sound quality.
As stated, I am biased as James Garner is my perfect Marlowe so, of course, I love this film. But, who cares. You can read reviews, watch clips and decide for yourself. If you are considering this particular film, be advised that the Warner Archive Collection DVD and the Amazon streaming video are the same digital print and the quality difference will depend only on your television's upscaling capabilities as compared to the upscaling on a blu-ray player and your streaming speed and quality.
Good luck finding what you want.
Elliot Gould in the Long Goodbye which is terrible). For me,Garner fits in well
with Bogart,Powell,Mitchum,Boothe (and even Caan in Poodle Springs). I've always
thought the story (Little Sister) to be one of Chandler's best-I suppose in
part because it has a bit more of a romantic interest for Marlowe than some
of the stories. As to the lack of logic in the story cited by one of the reviewers,
this is somewhat characteristic of Chandler. For example,there are still discussions
over what is going on in the Big Sleep. I don't think the update to the
1970s (Bruce Lee,hippies..) jarring to the original story. Drugs were certainly present
in many of the books. The DVD contains no extras (not even subtitles) which is
perhaps a shame.
But the story is solid, the screenplay is by the excellent Stirling Silliphant and there are three great leading ladies: beautiful Gayle Hunnicutt, bitchy young Sharon Farrell (whatever happened to her?) and Rita Moreno as a stripper in a blonde wig. Also, a parade of great character actors: Carroll O'Connor, William Daniels, Jackie Coogan and -- surprise, surprise -- Bruce Lee in a knock-out two scenes. In the last one, he makes the most dramatic exit from a movie since Agnes Moorehead in "Dark Passage." Directed by a major TV talent -- Paul Bogart -- who should have had the same kind of movie success that one-time TV director Norman Jewison did.