The film - directed by Montgomery himself - must have had a budget of 99 cents - tops. Except for a couple of night time car scenes, everything was shot indoors. Even though part of the story takes place at a camp site in the country - we never see where the body of the 'lady in the lake' (of the title) is found. It's all explained to us by Montgomery as he appears during a couple of breaks in the story as a kind of avuncular 'host'.Robert Montgomery is an odd sort of duck. Not movie-star handsome yet there's something about him that's compelling. You either like him or you don't. My feeling has always been that a little of Montgomery goes a long way. But I like him well enough in this.
Audrey Totter, an actress who has trouble playing 'sincere' on her good days, plays Adrienne Fromsett, a woman who - horror of horrors - actually works for a living. (She has shoulder pads!) She is the associate of publisher Derace Kingsby played by Ames. I actually like Totter, but she is not someone who intantly charms you. She takes getting used to. The camera should soften her up a bit, but in this film, it doesn't bother.
Marlowe is instantly smitten with her even though - horror of horrors - she's made her mark in the 'man's' world of publishing. Later when she asks him what he wants in a wife, he says he wants someone to 'take care of him' someone who, I assume, doesn't work - at least outside the home. Hey, who wouldn't want someone to take care of our every whim?? You can't blame Marlowe for that. Though I had a good laugh.
Anyway, Lavery attacks Marlowe and sets him up to be arrested for 'drunk' driving by the Bay City cops. In this way we get to meet the two Bay City cops who play a large part in the story. Lloyd Nolan is the gruff and nasty (though strangely attractive) DeGarmot and Tom Tully is his boss. They warn Marlowe off the story and out of Bay City. But does Marlowe listen?
On the whole, I think, a film worth watching if only to see how Montgomery's interpretation of Marlowe differs from Bogart's. I liked the book much better, though. Read that if you get a chance.