Starring: Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden
Directed by: Robert Altman
Synopsis: Raymond Chandler’s classic detective steps into modern day Hollywood when Philip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) becomes involved in a complicated murder mystery after driving a friend (Jim Bouton) to the Mexican border. Shortly afterwards he is hired by Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt) to find her missing husband, writer Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden.) The question is how do these cases tie together and why is the local mob boss (Mark Rydell) threatening Marlowe’s life?
Featured Feline: The film opens with Marlowe asleep on his bed when his hungry orange tabby cat comes in and wakes him up. Turns out it’s three o’clock in the morning and this sets off one of the most satisfying film openings ever, with Marlowe groggily stumbling to the kitchen to find his cat (which apparently has no name) something to eat.
Sadly he is all out of the cat’s favorite food, so he whips up a bizarre concotion of leftovers at which the cat understandably turns up his nose. Marlowe then goes to the store to get some cat food and returns with the wrong brand, thinking he can fool his feline companion by placing the contents into one of the old cans.
Needless to say this ruse doesn’t work either and the cat exits El Porto del Gato, as the cat door is lovingly labeled (for whom, we wonder? Can the cat read? And is he Mexican?) Sadly the cat is not seen in the film again, but he is mentioned often, most notably in the film’s classic final line! Many online sources credit Morris the Cat in this role (probably because of the finicky eater stigma) but in Morris’ biography they state he turned this role down after having appeared in the film Shamus earlier in the year (the biographer, Mary Daniels, explained that Morris didn’t want to be typecast.) While we can’t seem to find any actual credit for the part we suspect it may very well be Orangey, given the fact that he jumps on Elliott Gould’s shoulder at one point, a classic Orangey move.
Final Mewsings: You can fool all of the cats none of the time!