Marlowe is hired by an ex-con named Moose Malloy to find his missing girlfriend, Velma, while simultaneously investigating a murder connected with a missing jade necklace. Of course, both cases turn out to be connected, and Marlowe gets caught up in something far bigger than he imagined.
Tropes appearing in this film:
- Bulletproof Human Shield: A variant, in one scene a man stops a woman being attacked by shooting the attacker in the back. Had the bullet gone through it would have gone into the victim too.
- The '40s: It takes place in 1941.
- Private Eye Monologue: The Framing Device of the film is that Marlowe is telling a police detective what happenned. We see the entire film playing out as he describes the events one at a time.
- Too Dumb to Live: At the end, Marlowe notes that Moose was so blinded by his love for Velma that he had no problem turning his back on the woman who sold him out and disarming his only ally, and if he'd survived her shooting him he'd probably have forgiven that too.