The Brasher Doubloon

The Brasher Doubloon (known in the UK as The High Window) is a 1947 crime film noir directed by John Brahm and based on the novel The High Window by Raymond Chandler. The film features George Montgomery, Nancy Guild and Conrad Janis.[1]

The Brasher Doubloon
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Brahm
Produced byRobert Bassler
Screenplay byDorothy Bennett
Leonard Praskins
Based onthe novel The High Window
by Raymond Chandler
StarringGeorge Montgomery
Nancy Guild
Conrad Janis
Roy Roberts
Music byDavid Buttolph
CinematographyLloyd Ahern
Edited byHarry Reynolds
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 6, 1947 (1947-02-06)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States

Fred MacMurray, Victor Mature, and Dana Andrews were all mentioned at different times as having been cast as Philip Marlowe in the film before the studio settled on George Montgomery[2] appearing in the final film of his 20th Century Fox contract.

The plot revolves around a man being pushed out of a high window by a woman while the incident was caught on film. The movie is technically a remake of Time to Kill, a 1942 film that adapted The High Window as a Michael Shayne adventure starring Lloyd Nolan.


Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a wealthy widow, Elizabeth Murdock, to find a stolen coin called the Brasher Doubloon.

Marlowe ends up in the middle of a much more complicated case, one that involves blackmail and murder, forcing him to deal with a number of strange individuals. That includes Merle Davis, a deranged secretary to Murdock, whose own role in the matter is considerably more sinister than it seems.



The novel was published in 1942. The New York Times said "Chandler has given us a detective who is hard boiled enough to be convincing without being disgustingly touch and that is no mean achievement."[3]

Film rights were bought by 20th Century Fox in May 1942 who used it as the basis of a script for a movie in their B-picture series about Michael Shayne, A Time to Kill (1942).[4] [5]

Following the success of the Chandler adaptation Murder My Sweet (1944) and the Chandler-written Double Indemnity (1944), the author became in fashion in Hollywood - Warners filmed The Big Sleep, MGM did The Lady in the Lake (1946) and Paramount filmed a Chandler original, The Blue Dahlia (1946). Fox decided to film The High Window again, this time more faithfully.

In May 1945, they announced that Leonard Praskins was writing a script and Robert Bassler would produce. Fred MacMurray, who had been in Indemnity, would play Marlowe[6][7]

In October 1945 Fox announced that John Payne would play the lead role and that filming would begin in January 1946.[8]

In December there was another casting change - Victor Mature was given the role. John Brahm was assigned to direct. Both Mature and Brahm were taken off Three Little Girls in Blue to do the film.[9]

In January 1946 Fox announced that the film would star Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney, who had been so successful in Laura, and that Richard Macaulay would write the script.[10]

In May 1946 Fox said that George Montgomery would play the lead and that filming would begin in July.[11] Ida Lupino was to co star.[12] By June Lupino had dropped out and was replaced by Nancy Guild.[13] At one stage John Ireland was meant to be in the cast.[14]

In July 1946 the title was changed to The Brasher Doubloon.[15]


Critical response

When the film was released, The New York Times film critic panned the film, writing, "... Chandler's popular 'shamus' and, we might add, his efforts to recover the stolen brasher doubloon, a rare coin with a violent history, is the least of his exploits to date. Perhaps this is due equally to a pedestrian adaptation of Mr. Chandler's novel, The High Window, to the plodding and conventional direction accorded the film by John Brahm, and to the lack of conviction in George Montgomery's interpretation of Marlowe."[16]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz, on the other hand, liked the film, and wrote, "A film noir similar in theme and almost as enjoyable as The Big Sleep, as private investigator Philip Marlowe (George Montgomery) leaves his Hollywood office for a case in Pasadena from a rich old widow who lives in a dark old house. It's just smart enough of a film noir to be considered a classic ... This brooding Gothic melodrama is brought to life by John Brahm's expressionistic ambiance ably photographed by cinematographer Lloyd Ahern and by the sharp hard-boiled Raymond Chandler story the film is adapted from, The High Window. The film is not as complex as the novel, but it makes good use of its snappy dialogue and has vividly grotesque characterizations to go along with the dark mood it sets. Fritz Kortner stands out in his villainous role, which he plays like Peter Lorre would; while Florence Bates is charmingly acerbic in her creepy role as a bitter old hag."[17]


  1. The Brasher Doubloon at the TCM Movie Database.
  2. Harnisch, Larry. Los Angeles Times, "Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler", March 9, 2009. Accessed: July 17, 2013.
  3. THE HIGH WINDOW. By Raymond Chandler. 240 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $2. New York Times 16 Aug 1942: BR17.
  4. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Wallace Beery in Metro Film to Play Australian Veteran of First World War 2 PICTURES OPEN TODAY ' Take a Letter, Darling' Due at Paramount -- 'Vanishing Virginian' at Criterion New York Times (27 May 1942: 27.
  5. DRAMA: James Brown to Enact Top Role in 'Air Force' 'Yankees' Fan-Praised 20th Plans Thrillers Poll Shapes Film Ending Song Inspires New Title Madeline Le Beau Cast Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 25 June 1942: A10.
  6. MacMurray Will Play 'High Window' Sleuth Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]01 May 1945: A2.
  7. SCREEN NEWS: Fox to Star MacMurray in 'The High Window' New York Times 1 May 1945: 16.
  8. JOHN PAYNE NAMED TO PLAY DETECTIVE: To Take Philip Marlowe Role in 'High Window' at Fox-- 6 New Films to Arrive New York Times 29 Oct 1945: 16.
  9. Mature, Romero Quit Musical for New Leads Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 7 Dec 1945: 11.
  10. Monogram Plans Horse Story in Technicolor Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 19 Jan 1946: A5.
  11. JOAN CRAWFORD IN MYSTERY FILM: She Will Appear in Skirball and Manning's 'Portrait in Black' New York Times 13 May 1946: 34.
  12. Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]14 May 1946: 18.
  13. LIBERTY FILMS BUY NOVEL BY BELDEN: George Stevens Will Produce 'Give Us This Night,' Story of Australian War Bride Of Local Origin New York Times 13 June 1946: 24.
  14. ARGOSY TO RESUME FILM PRODUCTION: Studio Purchases 'The Family, a Novel by Nina Fedorova New York Times 24 June 1946: 28.
  15. Greene Will Return as Almsbury in 'Amber' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 27 July 1946: A5.
  16. The New York Times. Staff, film review, May 22, 1947. Accessed: July 17, 2013.
  17. Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 26, 2002. Accessed: July 17, 2013.
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