Director's Influence on Murder, My Sweet

Director's Influence on Murder, My Sweet

Edward Dmytryk uses film-noir conventions as a tool to create a highly traditional and characteristic "film noir" atmosphere. There is a sense of pessimism and menace throughout the story. We see Moose Malloy and Amthor become the embodiment of menace as every time we encounter them there is the potential for something violent or fatal to happen to those that are around them. Marlowe is strangled and manhandled by Moose on multiple occasions and Amthor employs a doctor to administer drugs into the private investigator in order to pull information out of him. There is a disregard for the safety of another human being as force appears to alway have an upper hand, getting what it wants.

We also see Dmytryk use what would come to be the prominent style in film-noir. That is black and white images with deep shadows, smoke rising through the screen. We watch as Marlowe exits the psych home where he’s been drugged and we see heavy shadows on the wall from the staircase and his body as it moves through the place. And in one of the final scenes we watch as Helen’s smoke rises from the darkness where she lies on the couch at the beach out. Dmytryk also uses Marlowe to narrate the story. It’s a device used in such a way to make the audience feel as if they are in a private eye book and the story is being told to them and details are being filled in from the inside of the mind of the main character. His narration is an attempt to keep the audience up with what’s happening and to throw them off by allowing Marlowe to express where he is confused about what is going on and thus bring the audience with him.

Finally, Dmytryk uses specific shots to enhance the drama and feeling of the picture. In multiple instances we see Marlowe get knocked out and every time the director closes in on him with what looks like black water as a symbol of Marlowe being unconscious. The director also employs editing technique to create the special effects of Marlowe during his drug inducement in the psych facility. We watch as he walks through doorways and is chased by the doctor and Moose and Amthor hang over him as predatory threats. And lastly, he employs a filter over the camera that appears to be cobwebs whenever Marlowe begins to feel the drugs pumping through him, making him lose control. Dmytryk is hailed for making Murder, My Sweet because it is said to be the finest adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel ever made.

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