marlowe ending explained

Private eye Philip Marlowe has his hands full in Marlowe. With a few twists and a definitive ending, we break down the movie's details.

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Marlowe

Marlowe is a neo-noir thriller with an unexpected ending, but one that ties it all together. Directed by Neil Jordan and written by William Monaghan, Marlowe follows famed private eye Philip Marlowe, a character created by author Raymond Chandler in the 1930s. Played here by action star Liam Neeson, the character of Marlowe has appeared in numerous film adaptations and has been played by a variety of actors, including Humphrey Bogart.

Marlowe ends with Neeson's detectives uncovering the conspiracy at the heart of his investigation. When Nico Peterson finds him (and not the other way around), he begs Marlowe to send a message to Claire Cavendish, the daughter of a wealthy Hollywood star, to meet him at Pacific Studios' prop warehouse . But when Claire meets Nico there, it's not a reunion of lovers, kills him, and then burns the evidence Nico brought that could expose the studio ambassador. Claire offers Marlowe the job of security supervisor at the film studio, but he declines, letting Cedric, Lou Hendricks' former driver, take the job.

Why Nico Peterson Faked His Own Death

Marlowe centers on the disappearance of Nico Peterson, a Pacific Studios prop man. Nico faked his own death because he feared for his life. He has the ambassador's smuggling ledger records, including every drug sale he's made, and Nico runs off with a briefcase containing something that's being packed and shipped through the prop warehouse. Nico must have known that the Ambassador and Lou Hendricks were after him and arranged for his death so they wouldn't come after him again, fleeing to Mexico for his safety. If Claire hadn't let Marlowe investigate, Nico might have escaped.

Clare Cavendish’s Plan Explained: Why She Really Hired Marlowe

Claire tells Marlowe that she's looking for Nico because it's not the same as her lover running away, and she knows he's not really dead because she met him in Mexico. But what Claire really wants is to make sure Nico is dead. The details he has about the drug trade threaten not only the ambassador, but Claire as well. She has a vested interest in maintaining the ambassador's reputation, mostly because it's a way of getting revenge on her mother and becoming a studio executive by the end of neo-noir. if she gets stuck Around Nicole, she doesn't get any of that. For Claire, money and power are above all else.

Why Marlowe Lets Clare Off The Hook At The End

Marlowe became aware of Clare's plans and even saw her shoot Nico and set fire to him and the prop storage, but the private eye took no action. Marlowe tends to avoid the authorities entirely, and doesn't have any real evidence against Claire to justify her going to jail. It's possible he worried about himself too, because he knew too much by the end of the crime drama. If the private detective tried to report on Claire, he didn't know what the consequences would be. After all, Claire has a deep network, and the ambassador's ledger has been burned long ago.

What Is Mexican Powder? Marlowe’s Drug Scheme Explained

Throughout Marlowe, characters often discuss "Mexican gunpowder", which refers to heroin, which most likely came directly from Mexico (hence the name). Country club owner Floyd Hanson, along with ambassador and nightclub owner Lou Hendricks, packaged the heroin into various props and moved it from the prop warehouse to various other locations. The ambassador likely funneled nightclub owners Lou Hendricks and Hanson Heroin was passed on to club members and others of notoriety. It's a lucrative business involving secretive and underhanded people trying to make money and maintain their power, no matter who gets hurt in the process.

Why Cedric Shoots Lou Hendricks

When he arrives on the scene to help his boss, Lou Hendricks, Cedric's shot topples the heroin-carrying mermaid statue "Serena". Cedric gets yelled at by Hendricks for shooting the statue, and he probably shot his boss because he knew he wouldn't get in trouble. He was with Marlowe at the time, and the detective was friends with the cops, so he knew there would be no consequences. Cedric knew more about the drug scheme than anyone because he was so close to it, and shooting Hendrix must have been another day's work for him considering his boss' illegal dealings.

Why Marlowe Refuses Clare’s Head Of Security Offer

Claire offered Marlow a job as head of security at the film studio where she was now an executive, but he turned it down. Marlowe doesn't seem to want to be under Claire's control, he's not interested in clearing Claire and the ambassador's safety or engaging in shady dealings very messy. Marlowe wants to get away from the whole drug-trafficking operation that Claire and the studio are keeping behind closed doors. A private investigator is a loner who does not want to knowingly get involved in illegal activities. Annoyed at finding Nico, Marlowe doesn't want to keep getting involved in other people's illegal affairs.

What Is Marlowe Based On? The Neo-Noir’s Backstory Explained

The film is based on John Banville's 2014 licensed novel, The Black-Eyed Blonde, which was influenced by Chandler's original Marlowe novel. Black-Eyed Blonde is the sequel to "The Long Goodbye," in which Marlowe is accused of helping a man who murdered his wife flee the country after the murder. The empowering novel follows Chandler's voice and expands on his character as Marlowe ages. The film adaptation was inspired by it. The dark-eyed blonde continues the tradition Marlowe started in the 1930's. Neo-noir takes some of the same dialogue and catapults Marlowe into a new, dangerous story.

The Real Meaning Of Marlowe’s Ending Explained

Like many neo-noir films, Marlowe features murder, dastardly characters, and a dark conspiracy that ties it all together. At the core of Marlowe are the following themes Power and wealth, and what it does to those without it. This is reflected in the story of Nico Peterson and his sister, a sex worker who is affected by the trade of her half-brother. Movie adaptations upended expectations of Hollywood's golden age.

Instead of nostalgia, the audience sees the wicked vulnerability of Los Angeles and its main characters - rich and well-connected, be they studio executives, club managers, or heiresses. Marlowe shows how hard these guys go to stay on top and in control. Whether it is murder, rape or blackmail, there is nothing wrong with it. Through this lens, Marlowe reveals the inequality and darkness that exists beneath the surface, masked by the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Here, no matter how much evidence he gathers, a little man like Nico has no chance of surviving.

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