Raymond Chandler’s private eye character, Philip Marlowe, is in need of better handling if he is to survive as a screen hero. Marlowe, is a plodding, unsure piece of so-called sleuthing in which James Garner can never make up his mind whether to play it for comedy or hardboil.
Stirling Silliphant’s adaptation of The Little Sister comes out on the confused side, with too much unexplained action. Garner as the private eye is hired by a girl from Kansas to find her missing brother, then finds himself involved in a maze in which he’s as mystified as the spectator.
Garner walks through the picture mostly with knotted brow, but Gayle Hunnicutt as the actress is nice to look at toward the end. Rita Moreno as a strip dancer delivers soundly, but a peeler does not a picture make.