Robert Mitchum is the definitive Philip Marlowe. The ageing General Sternwood (James Stewart) is worried for his two daughters Camilla and Charlotte and his £10 million fortune. He receives a note demanding he pay gambling debts incurred by Camilla (Candy Clark). Charlotte's (Sarah Miles) gun-running husband has mysteriously disappeared. Marlowe starts off with a simple case of blackmail but he soon discovers a seedy world of crime hidden under the surface of leafy suburban London.