Farewell, My Lovely

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This article is about the novel. For the film adaptation that was released in the U.K. with the same title, see Murder, My Sweet. For the film from 1975 starring Robert Mitchum, see Farewell, My Lovely (1975 film).
Farewell, My Lovely
RaymondChandler FarewellMyLovely.jpg
First edition cover
Author Raymond Chandler
Country United States
Language English
Genre Crime novel, hardboiled, noir fiction
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
Media type Print
ISBN 0-394-75827-7
OCLC 256294215
813/.52 19
LC Class PS3505.H3224 F3 1988/1940
Preceded by The Big Sleep
Followed by The High Window

Farewell, My Lovely is a 1940 novel by Raymond Chandler, the second novel he wrote featuring Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe. It was adapted for the screen three times, and also for the stage and radio.

Plot summary[edit]

Private detective Philip Marlowe is investigating a dead-end case when he sees a felon, Moose Malloy, barging into a nightclub called Florian's looking for his ex-girlfriend Velma Valento. The club has changed owners, so no one now there knows her. Malloy ends up killing the manager and escaping. The case of the murder of the club manager, a black man, is given to a detective named Nulty with a reputation for laziness and incompetence. Marlowe advises Nulty to look for Malloy's girlfriend but Nulty prefers to rely on finding Malloy based on his size and loud clothes. Marlowe decides to follow up and look for the girl.

He tracks down Mrs. Jessie Florian, the widow of the nightclub's former owner and plies her with bourbon. Mrs. Florian claims Malloy's girlfriend is dead. But Marlowe sees her hiding a photograph of someone he assumes is Velma. Marlowe helps himself to the photograph, and leaves Mrs. Florian's house when she appears to pass out in an alcoholic stupor. Before making further progress, Marlowe receives a call from a man named Lindsay Marriott, who claims his friend has been robbed and requests Marlowe's presence in delivering a ransom payment for stolen jewelry. Later that evening, in a deserted canyon, Marlowe waits in the dark and is hit on the head from behind. When he awakes, Marriott is dead. A passerby named Anne Riordan drives by and takes him home.

The police are suspicious about the story. Anne Riordan visits, explaining she is from Bay City, and that she is a policeman's daughter interested in local crime. She tells Marlowe the stolen necklace belongs to a Mrs. Lewin Lockridge Grayle and offers to have her hire Marlowe to find the necklace. Marlowe examines some marijuana cigarettes he found on Marriott’s body and discovers a card for a psychic named Jules Amthor. He makes an appointment to see him. On a hunch, he investigates the club owner’s widow and learns her house is paid for by Marriott.

Marlowe visits Mrs. Grayle, then visits Amthor in his office and probes for his connection to Marriott and the drugs. Amthor has him assaulted by a Native American who is his assistant. Marlowe is then locked up in a private hospital from which he escapes; on the way out he sees Malloy in another room. He discusses the case with Anne Riordan, and the police, who are annoyed at his continued involvement. They suspect Marriott of blackmailing wealthy women, in league with Amthor.

Marlowe now suspects Malloy moved to a hideout on a local gambling boat. He sneaks on board, and despite being caught by hoodlum Laird Burnette manages to pass a message through his criminal network to Malloy. Back home, Mrs. Grayle wants him to visit, so he invites her over but Malloy shows up first and hides when Mrs. Grayle arrives. Marlowe confronts her: she is Velma and had used Marriott to help conceal her new identity who she then tricked and killed. Malloy steps out and Velma shoots him fatally, then flees. Amthor, the hospital owner, and the crooked cops are all exposed to the law. Velma flees, but when she is eventually tracked down in Baltimore, she is killed by local law enforcement.


Farewell, My Lovely, like many of Chandler's novels, was written by what he called cannibalizing previous short stories[1]—taking previously written short stories and altering them to fit together as a novel. In this case the three stories were "Try the Girl", "Mandarin's Jade", and "The Man Who Liked Dogs".

"Try the Girl" provided the initial story about a hoodlum looking for his old girlfriend who has moved on to a more respectable life. "Mandarin's Jade" was the basis for the middle sections about a jewel theft which may or may not have actually happened, the murder of a blackmailer, and a corrupt psychic who works with a crime ring. "The Man Who Liked Dogs" provided the final part, where the detective is looking for a criminal and his search ultimately takes him to a gambling boat anchored off the Los Angeles coast line out of reach of the local law.

In all of the initial stories, the criminals and motives are clearly explained by the end. However, as Chandler adapted and integrated the stories—which were originally written completely independently—he cared more about the style of writing and the characters than about making sure every plot point fit together with complete consistency and lucidity. As he said of his work: "my whole career is based on the idea that the formula doesn't matter, the thing that counts is what you do with the formula; that is to say, it is a matter of style."[2]

Film adaptations[edit]

The Falcon Takes Over (1942), the first film adaptation of the novel, starring George Sanders as gentleman sleuth Gay Lawrence

Although it was written after The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely was the first Philip Marlowe novel to be filmed. In 1942, The Falcon Takes Over, a 65-minute film that was the third in the Falcon series about Michael Arlen's gentleman sleuth Gay Lawrence (played by George Sanders), used the plot of Farewell, My Lovely. In 1944, Dick Powell played the part of the hard-boiled detective, named Philip Marlowe this time, in a classic film noir release — alternatively entitled Murder, My Sweet (in the U.S.) and Farewell, My Lovely (in the U.K.) — two years before Humphrey Bogart was offered the role of Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946). In 1975, Robert Mitchum starred in a remake of Farewell, My Lovely.

  The Falcon Takes Over Murder, My Sweet Farewell, My Lovely
Year of release 1942 1944 1975
Director Irving Reis Edward Dmytryk Dick Richards
Screenwriter Lynn Root and Frank Fenton John Paxton David Zelag Goodman
Setting New York Los Angeles Los Angeles
Philip Marlowe George Sanders (as "Gay Lawrence") Dick Powell Robert Mitchum
Helen Grayle Helen Gilbert (as "Diana Kenyon") Claire Trevor Charlotte Rampling
Moose Malloy Ward Bond Mike Mazurki Jack O'Halloran
Mr. Grayle Miles Mander Jim Thompson
Lindsay Marriott Hans Conried Douglas Walton John O'Leary

Radio adaptations[edit]

The novel was adapted on BBC Radio 4 by Bill Morrison, directed by John Tydeman and broadcast on 22 September 1988 starring Ed Bishop as Marlowe. BBC Radio 4, as part of its Classic Chandler series, also broadcast on 19 February 2011 a dramatic adaptation by Robin Brooks, with Toby Stephens as the hardboiled detective.

Cultural references[edit]

In the first shot after the opening titles of Get Carter, Michael Caine is seen reading a paperback copy of the book. In the opening episode of the television series Bored to Death, Jason Schwartzman's character Jonathan Ames is inspired to become a private detective after reading the book.[3]

The novel's title was used as the subtitle in the Japanese version of the video game Sakura Wars V but this reference was lost during the translation process.


  1. ^ Bruccoli, Matthew J., Raymond Chandler: A Descriptive Bibliography, Pittsburgh Series in Bibliography, University of Pittsburgh, 1979.
  2. ^ McShane, Frank (1976). The Life of Raymond Chandler. London: Jonathon Cape. p. 64. 
  3. ^ Usborne, Simon (September 24, 2009). "Hit & Run: Meet the Jonathans". The Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved October 18, 2009. 

External links[edit]