After reviewing Robert Montgomery’s Lady in the Lake during my week of Christmas crime reviews, I wanted to check out more from him. I went with another one from 1947, Ride the Pink Horse, which Montgomery also stars in. I really, really dug this gritty little film. Set in a small rural town in New Mexico, the film is ripe with the post-war disillusionment that defined noir, but transferred to an unorthodox setting. The minimal, brooding tone of the film remains consistent throughout, juxtaposing the annual fiesta taking place and wrapping this mean revenge tale in a tightly-wound blanket of doom.
Raymond Chandler’s Lady in the Lake is my third favorite Philip Marlowe novel. The book’s plot is pleasantly complicated even for Chandler, but one of the main reasons I love it is that it takes Marlowe out of L.A. and into the mountains – the last place you’d find a hard-boiled private dick. Chandler’s own screenplay for a Lady in the Lake adaptation was never used. Instead, Robert Montgomery directed and starred in a version written by Steve Fischer, who penned a ton of westerns as well as Bogart’s Dead Reckoning. Chandler himself hated the adaptation, but I really like it. It’s tough and pulpy with a subtle romantic thread running throughout. For once, it’s nice to see Marlowe fall in love (even if Chandler’s creation preferred drinking alone).