Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Before Garner Was Rockford

Earlier today author Max Allan Collins sent me this news:
Do you know the Warner Archives titles--the older movies and TV shows that [Warner Bros. is] releasing, as made-to-order DVDs? You may have already mentioned it, because they have tons of great noir (we just watched the amazing Lady Without a Passport, directed by Joseph H. Lewis,
who I’m sure you know is the
Gun Crazy/Big Combo guy, who is probably my second favorite director of all time--after Hitchcock).

Anyway, on the Warner Archives Web site, they teased that they are preparing several ’60s-vintage James Garner releases. They asked if anybody could guess what any of these films would be, so I did:
Marlowe [1969]. And today they confirmed they have remastered it in 16 X 9 for release soon. Probably within the next month or so. This is significant because Marlowe is a very good adaptation of [Raymond] Chandler’s The Little Sister and features Garner doing a rough draft of [Jim] Rockford, with Rita Moreno in a very strong role and also featuring Bruce Lee, threatening Marlowe with martial arts. You probably know the film, but it’s never been on DVD, and the VHS release was cropped widescreen. This is a big deal in my little world.

I saw it in the theater way back when and loved it. I’d rate it about equal to
Farewell, My Lovely with [Robert] Mitchum and just after Murder, My Sweet and The Big Sleep (in that order).
I actually own the VHS version of Marlowe, which--being a big fan of both Chandler and Garner--I watch at least once a year. But Warner’s DVD may be something worth requesting for my birthday this spring.

By the way, the video embedded above shows Garner in Marlowe, facing off against martial arts master and actor Bruce Lee. Marlowe marked Lee’s first film appearance, though he had already worked on several TV series, including The Green Hornet.

READ MORE:Marlowe Goes to the Movies,” by J. Kingston Pierce
(The Rap Sheet).


Craig said...

Oh yeah, that's going on my list for Santa Claus. Thanks for the heads-up!

Anonymous said...

Great news, hearing of the Warner Marlowe release.

Wish, wish, that whichever TV company put out Garner at his most pi**-elegant in Maverick had enough material to release that series on DVD?


RJR said...

I hope they do the 1972 THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS, with Garner and Katherine Ross.


Max Allan Collins said...

They already have made THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS available. It was one of the early Warner Archives releases.