Joe Boone (Where’s Marlowe?)

Created by John Mankiewicz and Daniel Pyne

Where’s Marlowe?, a cinematic gene splice of Spinal Tap and The Maltese Falcon begs the question, “Who’s zoomin’ who?”

This sly, clever 1998 mockumentary “failed upward from a discarded TV pilot to art movie favourite”, according to Dick Lochte. Two hip young New York City filmmakers, Wilton Crawley (hip-hop performer Mos Def) and A.J. Edison (John Livingston), set out to make a documentary about the daily workings of an old-fashioned two-man detective agency in Los Angeles, run by film buff JOE BOONE (played to the hily by Miguel Ferrer) and his reckless partner, Kevin Murphy (John Slattery).

Much of the film is shot in handheld 16mm fashion, making it all the more believable. When clients walk through the door, they make nervous eye contact with the camera, and are quickly briefed on the documentary being made.

But Christ you know it ain’t easy. The detectives are painfully aware that they’re being filmed, they look like morons, nothing very dramatic happens and the film looks like it’s going to be a dud.

That changes quickly, however, when Murphy gets himself murdered, and the film makers find themselves losing their professional distance and objectivity. Meanwhile, Boone, sickened by his partner’s death, wants to chuck it all, and ditch the detective game. So he takes over the filmmaking.

A subtle and peculiar but enjoyable little flick, as much about film making as it is about detective work, and the mockumentary format lends an quirky, offbeat feel to it all. And Miguel Ferrer just brings it all back home, acting like the pro he is.


  • “It’s called ‘show business,’ not “show art.'”
    — Boone takes the time to explain it to the film crew.
  • “You’re trying to get to the truth but the camera always gets in the way.”
    — Boone explains it again.
  • Murphy: It’s been real.
    Crawley: It’s a documentary!


  • “Miguel Ferrer, playing a slick private eye with rent problems… smartly mixes a deadpan Jack Webb Dragnet-style and a nervous, wise-guy intensity in his role as gumshoe Joe Boone. The guy’s an inch away from being a lowlife, but he’s a class act when push comes to shove.”
    — Peter Stack (November 12, 1999, San Francisco Chronicle)


  • WHERE’S MARLOWE? | Buy this video Buy this DVD | Watch it now!
  • (1998, Paramount)
    Screenplay by John Mankiewicz and Daniel Pyne
    Directed by Daniel Pyne
    Original music by Michael Convertino
    Cinematography by Greg Gardiner
    Produced by Clayton Townsend
    Consulting producer: Tucker Gates
    Executive producers: Aaron Lipstadt, John Mankiewicz, Daniel Pyne
    Rated R for language and a scene of sexuality.
    Starring Miguel Ferrer as JOE BOONE
    Mos Def as Wilt Crawley
    John Livingston as A.J. Edison
    John Slattery as Murphy
    Also starring Allison Dean, Bok Yun Chon, Kate Goehring, Barbara Howard, Clayton Rohner, Elizabeth Schofield
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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