Ever wonder why they don’t film movies from a first-person point of view?
Lady in the Lake is why.
Please don’t misunderstand – we love:
- the film’s premise. (Famed detective Philip Marlowe is hired to find a missing woman and ends up in a murder case.)
- the puzzling romances. (What do any of these characters see in each other?)
- Audrey Totter’s over-the-top eyeball acting. (Trust us, you’ve never seen good eyeball acting until you’ve seen this movie.)
We suppose it’s a little disconcerting to have the actors directly addressing the camera. It’s also distracting to listen to a disembodied Robert Montgomery (as Marlowe) speaking from somewhere off-camera. He always sounds like the director (which he was), barking orders to the on-screen talent.
We think the main reason why first person POV doesn’t work is that it’s always teetering on the edge of cheesy disaster. An actor reaches out to shake hands and here’s Marlowe’s reciprocating arm, four feet away from the edge of the camera. Or, Marlowe looks at himself in a mirror and it takes him five minutes to turn around and face someone behind him.
But let us not discourage you from seeing this film! It’s campy fun with clever cinematography. And remember what we said about Audrey Totter’s eyeball acting – you’ll be glad we pointed it out.
Starring Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan. Written by Steve Fisher and Raymond Chandler (yes, that Raymond Chandler). Directed by Robert Montgomery. MGM, 1947, 105 mins.