The Brasher Doubloon

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The Brasher Doubloon
Brasher doubloon578.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Brahm
Written byLeonard Praskins
(adaptation)
Screenplay byDorothy Bennett
Leonard Praskins
Based onthe novel The High Window
by Raymond Chandler
Produced byRobert Bassler
StarringGeorge Montgomery
Nancy Guild
CinematographyLloyd Ahern
Edited byHarry Reynolds
Music byDavid Buttolph
Color processBlack and white
Production
company
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 6, 1947 (1947-02-06)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

The Brasher Doubloon (known in the UK as The High Window) is a 1947 American crime film noir directed by John Brahm and starring George Montgomery and Nancy Guild.[1] It is based on the 1942 novel The High Window by Raymond Chandler.

Fred MacMurray, Victor Mature, and Dana Andrews were all mentioned at different times as having been cast as Philip Marlowe in the film before the studio settled on George Montgomery,[2] appearing in the final film of his 20th Century Fox contract.

The High Window had already been adapted for film in 1942 as a Michael Shayne adventure starring Lloyd Nolan.

Plot[edit]

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by wealthy widow Elizabeth Murdock to investigate the theft of a rare coin, the Brasher Doubloon, from her deceased husband's private collection. Believing the case to be a fairly routine one, Marlowe soon finds himself confronted by murder and a succession of shady characters and lethal crooks. The course of his investigation leads Marlowe to realise that the source of the mystery hinges upon Merle Davis, the timid and neurotic secretary of Mrs Murdock.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The novel was published in 1942. The New York Times said: "Chandler has given us a detective who is hard boiled enough to be convincing without being disgustingly tough and that is no mean achievement."[3]

Film rights were bought in May 1942 by 20th Century-Fox, who used it as the basis of a script for Time to Kill (1942), a movie in their B-picture series about Michael Shayne.[4][5]

Following the success of the Chandler adaptation Murder My Sweet (1944) and Chandler's adaptation of Double Indemnity (1944), the author became in fashion in Hollywood: Warners filmed The Big Sleep, MGM did The Lady in the Lake (1946), and Paramount filmed a Chandler original, The Blue Dahlia (1946). Fox decided to film The High Window again, this time more faithfully.

In May 1945, they announced that Leonard Praskins was writing a script and Robert Bassler would produce. Fred MacMurray, who had been in Double Indemnity, would play Marlowe[6][7]

In October 1945 Fox announced that John Payne would play the lead role and that filming would begin in January 1946.[8]

In December there was another casting change: Victor Mature was given the role. John Brahm was assigned to direct. Both Mature and Brahm were taken off Three Little Girls in Blue to do the film.[9]

In January 1946 Fox announced that the film would star Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, who had been so successful in Laura, and that Richard Macaulay would write the script.[10]

In May 1946 Fox said that George Montgomery would play the lead and that filming would begin in July.[11] Ida Lupino was to co-star.[12] By June Lupino had dropped out and was replaced by Nancy Guild.[13] At one stage, John Ireland was meant to be in the cast.[14]

In July 1946 the title was changed to The Brasher Doubloon.[15]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

When the film was released, the film critic for The New York Times panned the film, writing, "... Chandler's popular 'shamus' and, we might add, his efforts to recover the stolen brasher doubloon, a rare coin with a violent history, is the least of his exploits to date. Perhaps this is due equally to a pedestrian adaptation of Mr. Chandler's novel, The High Window, to the plodding and conventional direction accorded the film by John Brahm, and to the lack of conviction in George Montgomery's interpretation of Marlowe."[16]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz, on the other hand, liked the film and wrote, "A film noir similar in theme and almost as enjoyable as The Big Sleep, as private investigator Philip Marlowe (George Montgomery) leaves his Hollywood office for a case in Pasadena from a rich old widow who lives in a dark old house. It's just smart enough of a film noir to be considered a classic... This brooding Gothic melodrama is brought to life by John Brahm's expressionistic ambiance ably photographed by cinematographer Lloyd Ahern and by the sharp hard-boiled Raymond Chandler story the film is adapted from, The High Window. The film is not as complex as the novel, but it makes good use of its snappy dialogue and has vividly grotesque characterizations to go along with the dark mood it sets. Fritz Kortner stands out in his villainous role, which he plays like Peter Lorre would; while Florence Bates is charmingly acerbic in her creepy role as a bitter old hag."[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Brasher Doubloon at the TCM Movie Database.
  2. ^ Harnisch, Larry. Los Angeles Times, "Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler", March 9, 2009. Accessed: July 17, 2013.
  3. ^ "THE HIGH WINDOW. By Raymond Chandler. 240 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $2". New York Times. Aug 16, 1942. p. BR17.
  4. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Wallace Beery in Metro Film to Play Australian Veteran of First World War 2 PICTURES OPEN TODAY ' Take a Letter, Darling' Due at Paramount -- 'Vanishing Virginian' at Criterion". New York Times. May 27, 1942. p. 27.
  5. ^ Schallert, Edwin (June 25, 1942). "DRAMA: James Brown to Enact Top Role in 'Air Force' 'Yankees' Fan-Praised 20th Plans Thrillers Poll Shapes Film Ending Song Inspires New Title Madeline Le Beau Cast". Los Angeles Times. p. A10.
  6. ^ Schallert, Edwin (May 1, 1945). "MacMurray Will Play 'High Window' Sleuth". Los Angeles Times. p. A2.
  7. ^ "SCREEN NEWS: Fox to Star MacMurray in 'The High Window'". New York Times. May 1, 1945. p. 16.
  8. ^ "JOHN PAYNE NAMED TO PLAY DETECTIVE: To Take Philip Marlowe Role in 'High Window' at Fox-- 6 New Films to Arrive". New York Times. Oct 29, 1945. p. 16.
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Dec 7, 1945). "Mature, Romero Quit Musical for New Leads". Los Angeles Times. p. 11.
  10. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Jan 19, 1946). "Monogram Plans Horse Story in Technicolor". Los Angeles Times. p. A5.
  11. ^ "JOAN CRAWFORD IN MYSTERY FILM: She Will Appear in Skirball and Manning's 'Portrait in Black'". New York Times. May 13, 1946. p. 34.
  12. ^ Hopper, Hedda (May 14, 1946). "Looking at Hollywood". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 18.
  13. ^ "LIBERTY FILMS BUY NOVEL BY BELDEN: George Stevens Will Produce 'Give Us This Night,' Story of Australian War Bride Of Local Origin". New York Times. June 13, 1946. p. 24.
  14. ^ "ARGOSY TO RESUME FILM PRODUCTION: Studio Purchases 'The Family, a Novel by Nina Fedorova". New York Times. 24 June 1946. p. 28.
  15. ^ Schallert, Edwin (27 July 1946). "Greene Will Return as Almsbury in 'Amber'". Los Angeles Times. p. A5.
  16. ^ "Staff, film review". The New York Times. May 22, 1947. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  17. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 26, 2002. Accessed: July 17, 2013.

External links[edit]