Thursday, 7 February 2013
Lady in the Lake 
Film noirs were renowned for their path breaking facets – dark thematic explorations, disturbing sociopolitical commentaries, violence and sexual innuendoes, disconcerting tones, reversal of types, bravura expressionism, etc. Consequently, formalism, in varying degrees, was always there in them; but rarely were they as formally audacious as Lady in the Lake, Robert Montgomery’s first directorial venture. Hawks’ The Big Sleep was the most famous Marlowe film, Altman’s The Long Goodbye the most deconstructionist, and Dmytryk’s Murder, My Sweet the best of the lot; but this was a rarity in that the story was chronicled from Marlow’s point of view - in fact, it was possibly the first film where the narrative was shot from the eyes of the protagonist. Interestingly, Dark Passage, which released later the same year, too employed this technique, albeit only for the first third of its length. The story revolves around a case of extra marital relationships, and eventually double crosses and murder, which Marlow (played by Montgomery himself) gets embroiled into when he decides to write a story based on his investigations, and sends it to a publisher of pulp fiction, to earn some extra bucks. Montgomery was on-screen for only a few moments, but still managed to carve an identity for his character through his sharp dialogue delivery, while Audrey Totter played the role of an unreliable and dollar-crazy femme fatale. All the hallmarks of a Chandler novel are present here, viz. labyrinthine plot, vitriolic world view, human corruption and duplicity, tar-drenched cynicism and staccato dialogues – this was, in fact, the only time when Chandler adapted his own novel for the screen.
Director: Robert Montgomery
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Mystery/Film Noir