Friday, June 12, 2020

WATCH IT HERE! Forgotten Books on Film: THE BRASHER DOUBLOON / The High Window (1947)

Last week we watched TIME TO KILL (HERE), the first film version of The High Window, and saw it turned into a vehicle for the Michael Shayne series. This time we get the real thing (sort of), but under a different title. 

On this viewing, the reason for that retitling became very clear. They were trying their damndest to remind viewers - or maybe reviewers - of THE MALTESE FALCON. First, they gave the Doubloon a history, in that previous owner had suffered mysterious deaths (there ain't nothin' like that in the book), and then swiped a famous scene from the Falcon film that I'll let you discover for yourself.

Overall, this adaptation is even less faithful than THE HIGH WINDOW. At least the earlier version retained most of the major characters. This one ignores several. There's no sign or mention of Linda Conquest, the supposed thief of the doubloon, or her pal Lois, or Lois's gangster hubby Alex Morny. The absence of all those folks calls for a lot of jiggering around with the plot.

As Marlowe, George Montgomery is no Humphrey Bogart. Or Robert Montgomery. Or Dick Powell.  Or Robert Mitchum. Or even James Garner. He's is better than Elliott Gould, but that's not saying much.  He's about on a par with TIME TO KILL's Lloyd Nolan, I suppose. Where Nolan was too happy and friendly, Montgomery is too handsome and romantic. There's no romance in the book, but this film plays it up big, with Marlowe instantly on the make for Merle Davis (Nancy Guild), and Merle considerably less strange than she's supposed to be. Montgomery acts tougher than Nolan, and that's a good thing, but seems unable to deliver a wisecrack. 

For those wondering what a real Brasher Doubloon looks like, you need look no further. I've provided a couple of pics below. No, this is not from my collection. If anyone has an extra one lying around taking up space, though, you're welcome to send it my way. I promise to give it a good home. 

The six-sheet poster just below the film does reside in my collection, though I haven't seen it in all its glory in about 30 years. It hung on my wall back then, when I took the snapshot shown here. It's a gorgeous poster, and I wish like hell I could provide a better picture, but I no longer have a wall big enough to tack it up. The sucker is over six feet tall. Along with its other defects, the pic here is marred by the reflection of the window curtains in my old apartment.

Also below, you'll see a British poster, calling it THE HIGH WINDOW.  Nice to know the limeys had the sense to release the film under its proper title. 


Stephen Mertz said...

I like this film more than most folks seem to. I own a copy & have watched it several times over the years. Yes, very minor. Yes, Montgomery is slightly less compelling than watching paint dry. And okay, so it deviates from the book. But judged on its own production values, I find it well done, more than just enjoyable, and find Ms. Guild to be breathtakingly lovely, stealing every scene she's in. I'd give it three-and-a-half stars.

Boppa said...

Marlowe with a mustache? I don’t think so.
George Montgomery always looked more at home in westerns. Cheap westerns.

Art Scott said...

I was too lazy to look up "Brasher Doubloon" when I read the book umpteen years ago. I think I assumed it was a made-up MacGuffin. Interesting to see that it actually existed, and is notable for its truly ugly turkey-necked American eagle.