Lady In the Lake (1947) Review

Verdict: Mechanic

Disorienting camera work and amateur acting.


Phillip Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) is hired by Adrienne (Audrey Totter) to look for the wife of Mr. Kingsby (Leon Ames) who has been missing for months. While investigating he bumps heads with Lt. DeGarmot (Lloyd Nolan) and Capt. Kane (Tom Tully) for unruly behaviour against Chris Lavery (Dick Simmons). Also, he uncovers some mysterious relationship between the lieutenant and Mildred (Jayne Meadows). Directed by Robert Montgomery.

For a film made in the late 1940’s, it was ingenious for them to tell the story with mostly point of view shots. Some parts are done well, especially with shots in which characters were supposed to be looking in a mirror at their reflection. This obviously cannot be since the camera is not seen in the ‘reflection’. However, the point of view shots overall was not properly utilized and did not work for me. For one thing, the film like most film noirs, have first person narration and this starts off with Marlowe talking to the camera. This is startling because scenes of him talking to us, the audience, is juxtaposed with shots from his perspective. Thus the film continuously engages us to see from his perspective but then breaks that by showing him narrating. On top of that, point of view shots move slowly and deliberately. That is how a camera moves, not human vision. Pans are painfully slow and make the impression as if Marlowe’s head rotates 180 degrees.

Furthermore, the acting is quite cringe-worthy as it is often cheesy an abrupt. The way Totter changes the emotions of her character so suddenly is almost comical. Montgomery’s delivery is also monotonous (though this is more the style of film noirs in general), and his lines are dry which at times make it funny. The relationship between Totter and Montgomery is presented ambiguously and the chemistry is just not there. However, Nolan and Meadows added a bit of spice to the film and made it a little more engaging.

Settings and costumes are presented well with the great use of props. Lighting is representative of film noir films and creates the desired effect. Overall, an OK film that passes the time well enough but with disorienting camera work and dry acting.

To sum-up:
PROS: Settings, light
CONS: Cinematography, acting

I give this a 5/10.

Have you watched Lady in the Lake? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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