William Goldman, in his first solo script credit, plays knowing games with the Chandlerish conventions, while director Smight pumps up the pace and tags along with the allusive casting of Bacall. Enjoyable performances throughout.
MacDonald's novel--his first solo screenwriting credit--is full of rapid-fire dialogue but some of the characterizations are thin. Despite all the big names involved, Harper doesn't begin to approach the big leagues of hard-boiled detective films. Nonetheless, Newman gives a convincing performance.
Some excellent directorial touches and solid thesping are evident in the colorful and plush production. Abundance of comedy and sometimes extraneous emphasis on cameo characters make for a relaxed pace and imbalanced concept, resulting in overlength and telegraphing of climax.
Paul Newman in a bungled attempt to recapture the Bogart private-eye world of The Big Sleep. Shelley Winters gives the picture artificial respiration for a few minutes, but it soon relapses. A private-eye movie without sophistication and style is ignominious.