[box cover]

Where's Marlowe?

Two recent NYU film school grads (John Livingston and rapper Mos Def), smarting from the failure of their three-hour documentary on New York City drinking water, travel to Los Angeles to make a movie about L.A. private investigators. Their subject, Joe Boone (Miguel Ferrer), prowls the mean streets of the City of Angels, emulating the classic P.I.s like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and hoping for a really "big case" to come along, but showing himself to be a soft touch with a lousy head for business. But when a simple missing persons investigation turns into a Chandler-esque case of murder and double-cross, the two documentarians find themselves helping Boone crack the case while filming, as Livingston's character puts it, "a documentary about a couple of documentary guys who are making a documentary about a private investigator — and now they gotta bail him out". Where's Marlowe? was originally shot with a 16mm hand-held camera for a 1996 television pilot, then was later expanded (with improved production values) to a 90-minute feature by filmmakers Daniel Pyne and John Mankiewicz, who met as writers on Miami Vice. Certainly not a masterpiece, but it would have made a terrific TV show — in this incarnation it's still a charming, funny movie with solid performances by a slate of familiar actors like John Slattery, Clayton Rohner, and Lisa Jane Persky. It also reaffirms that Miguel Ferrer is one of America's most underrated actors. Paramount's DVD offers a clean anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1, and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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