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Farewell, My Lovely is a 1940 novel by Raymond Chandler, the second novel he wrote featuring Los Angelesmarker private eye Philip Marlowe. It was adapted for the screen three times.

Plot summary

A chance encounter with hulking ex-con Moose Malloy on Los Angeles' Central Avenue, the part that is "not yet all negro", gets Marlowe into all kinds of trouble. Just released from prison, Malloy is looking for his one-time girlfriend, red-haired Velma, whom he last saw eight years ago. The nightclub where she used to sing, Florian's, is now a black "dine and dice emporium", and no one there has ever heard of her. Malloy flees after casually killing the black boss of the club, and Marlowe, the only white witness to Malloy's mayhem, is asked by a detective on the case, Nulty, to look for Velma. He learns the address of Florian's widow and visits her, a drunken middle-aged floozy. The widow tells him, unconvincingly, that Velma Valento is dead.

Later that afternoon, Marlowe is hired by Lindsay Marriott to assist in handing over an $8,000 ransom for a rare jade necklace owned by a woman friend of Marriott's. However, at the isolated meeting point—a lonely canyon in the middle of the night—Marlowe is knocked out. When Marlowe comes to, he chances upon a passerby, Anne Riordan, who has found Marriott murdered. Anne takes some marijuana cigarettes off Marriott before Marlowe contacts the police. Later, Anne gives the cigarettes to Marlowe. With Anne's help Marlowe learns that the owner of the necklace is a Mrs. Grayle. Marlowe visits Mrs. Grayle, a beautiful blonde married to an elderly millionaire, who backs up Marriott's story that she was robbed of the necklace.

Suspicious of Marriott's joints, Marlowe cuts one open and finds the business card of one "Jules Amthor", "Psychic Consultant". Marlowe also learns that the title to the house of Florian's widow was in Marriott's name. Marlowe meets Amthor at the latter's "modernistic" hilltop home. There, Marlowe is beaten up with the help of crooked policemen. Later removed to a "sanitorium", Marlowe is shot full of dope but manages to escape. With a policeman, Marlowe finds Florian's widow murdered in her house. Marlowe makes it to a gambling ship off the coast where he attempts to get word to Malloy that he has information for him.

Marlowe lands back at his Hollywoodmarker apartment, takes a nap and awakes to find the Moose there. Mrs. Grayle then arrives while Malloy hides. Mrs. Grayle and Marlowe talk and it becomes clear that Velma and Mrs. Grayle are the same person. It is revealed that after realizing her new identity was in jeopardy from Marlowe's inquiries she was anxious to stop his investigation. It is implied that she killed Marriott because he wouldn't go through with Marlowe's murder at the isolated rendezvous. When she comes face to face with Malloy, she kills him and flees. At the end of the novel, Marlowe relates that she commits suicide in Baltimoremarker after her true identity is found out by police there.

Film adaptations

Although written after The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely was the first Marlowe story to be filmed. In 1942, The Falcon Takes Over, a 65 minute film, the third in the Falcon series of films revolving around Michael Arlen's gentleman sleuth Gay Lawrence (played by George Sanders), used the plot of Farewell, My Lovely, with Lawrence substituted for Marlowe. Purists agree that fitting the two rather different characters of Marlowe and Lawrence into one seems absurd from today's point of view; however, in 1942 Marlowe was not yet a household word, not yet a fictional character people would immediately recognize, and so at the time many of his habits would not have been known to cinemagoers.

In 1944 Dick Powell played the part of the hard-boiled detective in a classic film noir which was alternatively entitled Murder, My Sweet and Farewell, My Lovely— two years before Humphrey Bogart was offered the role of Philip Marlowe in 1946 for The Big Sleep. Thirty years later, Robert Mitchum starred in a remake of Farewell, My Lovely, again playing the tough private eye.

The Falcon Takes Over
Murder, My Sweet Farewell, My Lovely
Year of release 1942 1944 1975
Director Irving Reis Edward Dmytryk Dick Richards
Screenwriter Lynn Root and Frank Fenton John Paxton David Zelag Goodman
Setting New Yorkmarker Los Angelesmarker Los Angelesmarker
Philip Marlowe George Sanders (as "Gay Lawrence") Dick Powell Robert Mitchum
Helen Grayle Helen Gilbert (as "Diana Kenyon") Claire Trevor Charlotte Rampling
Moose Malloy Ward Bond Mike Mazurki Jack O'Halloran
Mr. Grayle Miles Mander Jim Thompson
Lindsay Marriott Hans Conried Douglas Walton John O'Leary


In the first shot after the opening titles of Get Carter, Michael Caine is seen reading a paperback copy of the book. In the opening episode of the television series Bored to Death, Jason Schwartzman's character Jonathan Ames is inspired to become a private detective after reading the book.


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