Lady in the Lake 1947 DVD - Robert Montgomery / Audrey Totter
Tired of the low pay of his profession, hard-boiled Los Angeles private detective Phillip Marlowe submits a murder story to Kingsby Publications. He is invited to the publisher's offices to discuss his work, but soon realizes it is merely a ploy. A few days before Christmas, publishing executive Adrienne Fromsett hires him to locate Chrystal Kingsby, the wife of her boss, Derace Kingsby. One month earlier, Kingsby’s wife had sent her husband a telegram saying she was heading to Mexico to divorce him and marry a man named Chris Lavery. But, according to Fromsett, Lavery says he has not seen Chrystal for two months, and the telegram appears to be fake. It becomes obvious to Marlowe that Fromsett wants her boss for herself – for his money, as she later admits.
Marlowe goes to see Lavery, who claims to know nothing about any trip to Mexico. Lavery, however, says that Mrs. Kingsby was a beautiful woman before revising it to "is." He sucker-punches the detective, and Marlowe wakes up in jail. He is questioned by Captain Kane (Tom Tully) and a belligerent Lieutenant DeGarmot. Marlowe refuses to divulge anything, and Kane releases him.
Marlowe learns that a woman's body has been recovered from a lake on which Kingsby owns property, and that Kingsby's caretaker, Mr. Chess, was charged with the murder of his wife Muriel. Fromsett suspects that Chrystal is the real killer, as she and Muriel hated each other. Little Fawn Lake was also where Chrystal was last seen. Marlowe learns that Muriel was an alias for a woman named Mildred Havelend and that she was hiding from a tough cop, whose description fits DeGarmot.
Marlowe goes to see Lavery again. Inside the unlocked house, he encounters Lavery's landlady, Mrs. Fallbrook, holding a gun she claims to have just found. Upstairs, he finds Lavery dead, shot several times. He also finds a handkerchief with the monogram "A F".
Before calling the police, Marlowe goes to the publishing house to confront Fromsett, interrupting a Christmas party. In private, she denies killing Lavery. Kingsby, learning that Fromsett had hired Marlowe to find Chrystal, tells her theirs will be strictly a business relationship from now on. A furious Fromsett fires the private eye, but Kingsby immediately hires him to find his wife.
Marlowe informs the police of Lavery's death. At the scene, he suggests that Muriel was hiding from DeGarmot. DeGarmont slaps Marlowe, and the two men scuffle. Kane takes Marlowe into custody, releasing him only out of Christmas spirit.
Marlowe obtains more information on Muriel from a newspaper contact. She had been a suspect in the suspicious death of her previous employer's wife. The investigating detective, DeGarmot, ruled that death a suicide; the victim's parents strongly disagreed. Marlowe finds the parents have been intimidated into silence. His car is then run off the road by DeGarmot. Regaining consciousness after the crash, Marlowe gets to a pay phone and calls Fromsett for help. She takes him to her apartment, where she claims that she has fallen in love with him. They spend Christmas Day together while he recovers from his injuries.
Kingsby receives a phone call from his wife, asking for money and, unable to find Marlowe, goes to Fromsett's apartment to ask her if she has seen the detective. Marlowe agrees to give Kingsby's money to Chrystal, as Kingsby is being followed by police detectives. Placing his trust in Fromsett, Marlowe instructs her to have the police trail him, following a trail of rice he will leave.
The woman Marlowe meets turns out to be Mildred Havelend, alias the "landlord" Mrs. Fallbrook, alias Muriel. She killed Chrystal – the "lady in the lake" of the title – in addition to her former employer's wife and Lavery. DeGarmot was in love with Havelend and helped her cover up the first murder. Then she fled from him and married Chess.
Havelend pulls a gun on Marlowe in her apartment. DeGarmot tracks them down, having overheard Fromsett speaking to Captain Kane and following Marlowe's trail of rice. He plans to kill them both with Havelend's gun and stage it to look like she and Marlowe shot each other. DeGarmot then shoots a pleading Mildred several times. Kane arrives just in time to gun down his own crooked cop.
In an epilogue, Marlowe and Fromsett decide to leave for New York City to start a new life together.
Robert Montgomery as Phillip Marlowe
Audrey Totter as Adrienne Fromsett
Lloyd Nolan as Lt. DeGarmot
Tom Tully as Capt. Kane
Leon Ames as Derace Kingsby
Jayne Meadows as Muriel, aka Mildred Havelend, aka Mrs. Fallbrook
Richard Simmons as Chris Lavery
Morris Ankrum as Eugene Grayson
Lila Leeds as Receptionist
Robert Williams as Artist
Kathleen Lockhart as Mrs. Grayson
Runtime: 105 Minutes