Picks and Pans Review: Poodle Springs
Show of the week
James Caan has had 26 years of ups and downs since he played volatile Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. He certainly looks weary and weathered enough for the part of aging private eye Philip Marlowe in this well-crafted adaptation of the 1989 novel by Robert B. Parker (who completed a story by Marlowe's late creator, Raymond Chandler). Caan doesn't handle the role with the assurance of Humphrey Bogart (The Big Sleep) or Robert Mitchum (Farewell, My Lovely), but he's not supposed to. This is a confused Marlowe, uncomfortable in his new marriage to a beautiful young lawyer-heiress (Dina Meyer) and out of place in the early 1960s, where there seems to be no room on the New Frontier for a loner shamus in a gray fedora and invisible knightly armor. When Marlowe moves from Los Angeles to the desert town of Poodle Springs—and tries to freshen up his image with a loud sport shirt—his dignity hangs by a thread. But a complex case comes his way and brings out Marlowe's legendary best: toughness, honesty and sharp repartee. Director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces) and writer Tom Stoppard (The Real Thing) let the plot sort of peter out, but it's a low priority anyway.
Bottom Line: Stick with this veteran gumshoe