MovieChat Forums > Murder, My Sweet (1944) Discussion > Hmmmm... You gotta nice build for a priv...

Hmmmm... You gotta nice build for a private detective.


This is the line in the movie that just kills me.

There he is, standing there in a wife-beater, combing his hair when Claire Trevor walks in with her hair done up, wearing this long, slinky black dress, flirting with him and commenting on his physique.

Sorry. I love Claire Trevor, but Dick Powell is far from sexy and his build? Frumpy at best.

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Just saw that scene - who made the decision to reveal his saggy body in that dreadful get- up ? You have that right - frumpy is putting it kindly. Funniest line in the movie !

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He could have at least sucked his belly in a tad. IMHO, It would have been funnier if he, seeing his reflection in the mirror that he was standing in front of, self consciously did just that. Instead, he replies, acknowledging her observation, then walks over to her with his bloated belly almost as if he was intentionally pushing it out.
It was a weird scene because I thought at first that she was being sarcastic and that his reply was dead pan tongue in cheek humorous. On repeated viewings though it seemed to me that it was meant to be a serious observation on her part ... nah, couldn't have been ...could it ? If it was intended to be a humorous scene then it was a departure from the kind of humor used otherwise throughout the movie. He was the one making all the wise cracks and his narrative was self deprecating at times but I don't remember any of the other characters cracking wise about him.
Powell may not have had chiseled looks but in this scene it was clear that he was big enough to land a ko punch. He also mentioned he had worked as a cop at one time - presumably he had some training in self defense and how to take a bad guy down. I wondered if this scene was meant to show the audience that he may have been capable of a little more rough stuff then his rounded face might lead one to believe. Yeah, he was on the
'craggy' side in the looks dept and you can't always tell a book by its cover etc., but, by Hollywood standards, he just didn't look like a 'tough guy' (or a 'lover' for that matter). Physique wise I was kind of surprised when I saw him with his shirt off - I've seen pro boxers in worse shape. He was certainly beefier than say Bogart who was shown on the silver screen landing quite a few ko punches (something I never quite bought).
And before someone jumps all over me, yes, I know that knowing how to throw a punch is also important. Bogie didn't appear to have the 'weight'/mass though (the other half of the equation) - Powell did.

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I don't know any people of that generation to ask, and wouldn't have the guts to ask if I did, but why did men wear their pants above the navel almost to their chest instead of at the waist?

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Probably the style of the day. Fred Mertz must've been the last hold out.

Okay folks, show's over, nothing to see here!

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Two reasons: if you're in really good shape, it accentuates your slim figure. But if you have a bit of a gut, it is more slimming (i.e., your gut doesn't hang over your belt, and the waistband acts sort of like a girdle if you keep it tight enough). That's also one reason why slightly overweight men sometimes wear suspenders that allow the pants to be up a bit higher--so, again, no gut overhang.

It is better to be kind than to be clever or good looking. -- Derek

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This movie was made before the days of men who chiseled their bodies to conform to modern changing standards and tastes. I never bothered eyeing Powell's physique and would never have noticed. Powell was already 40 years old and most men are long past their "pretty boy" phase at that age.

I'm of the belief that women find real men (the type of men who were once common in Powell's generation -- the ones who beat all the odds during the Depression and WWII) more attractive than they do a lot of musclebound metrosexuals such as you'll find at every fitness center.

Okay folks, show's over, nothing to see here!

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She made the flattering comment when she first entered the room; so she was seeing his back, not his stomach. Then he faces her and says matter-of-factly about his physique, "It gets me around." So his response was rather modest and humble.

It is better to be kind than to be clever or good looking. -- Derek

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she was seeing his back, not his stomach
Well spotted!

And another thing which no one so far seems to have mentioned, she deliberately tried to flirt with him to get him infatuated with her. So maybe that was the first flattering remark she could think of when she saw that he's got no shirt on.

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Guys, you DO know she was trying to flirt with him, to get what she wanted, right? She didn't actually mean it.

It was funny when she said it because she knew it was a lie.

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Lots of good comments here. In the 1940s (my parents' era), yes, this was the style of men's trousers, undershirts, etc. A style in film noir I particularly love is that the men wear REAL fedoras, not these stupid hipster hats that have been so trendy the past few years.

And I agree that the point of her comment was that it was so blatantly pure flattery to get what she wanted, since when Marlowe turned around he was incredibly average.

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I love those pants. The pants for men today are hip huggers. Your shirt doesn't stay in and you can't bend over to pick up dropped keys lest you moon the world.

I imagine the only way you can get high waisted pants is to get em custom made by a tailor.

Hopefully men's fashions will go back to that style so they can be bought off the rack.

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Claire was good at flattery. Marlowe uses a some sort of rag to tie his trousers up. I think it was Ann who got it right when she called him a grubby detective.

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I thought the remark was female BS.

Back when I was about 20, a girlfriend told me I had a nice build. I knew she was BSing me, but it was endearing to know she would lie about it.

Powell definitely looked better in his well-tailored suits.

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