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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Marlowe’

“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.”
Paul Auster

If we rewind to 1928 and look at a 40-year-old Raymond Chandler, we do not see any proof that he is (or even is becoming) the writer Raymond Chandler. That is the writer of not only seven novels including Farewell, My Love , and the screenplays that would be directed by Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity) and Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train). No evidence that Humphry Bogart would so eloquently speak the words of Chandler’s best known character  Philip Marlowe on film, or that he would be nominated for two Academy Awards.

And if you met Raymond Chandler a year or so after the Great Depression when he was unemployed and drinking too much and he told you that he was going to be a writer, your response would have been something like, “Well, good luck with that.” And as you slithered away before he asked you to read something he wrote you’d be thinking to yourself, “Another delusion writer.”

Raymond Chandler in his early 40s was a walking cliché. Though he’d dabbled in poetry and journalism when he was younger, at the age of 44 he was a recently fired oil executive who decided instead of looking for a job  to become a writer.

What are the odds against him getting published, much less becoming the writer Raymond Chandler? Tremendous. But, hey, writers write.

“With a $100 a month stipend from his friends Edward and Paul Lloyd he began working on a short story for the pulp magazine Black Mask. The story was entitled ‘Blackmailers Don’t Shoot’ and appeared in the December 1933 issue. It took him five months to write and he was paid $180. After that, he said, he ‘never looked back,’ but he wrote slowly and made very little money from his stories.”
Chris Routledge
Raymond Chandler on Writing  

And he kept at it and kept publishing short stories until 1939—at the age of 51— his first novel, The Big Sleep was published. It introduced the detective Philip Marloww to the world, was widely read, became a movie in 1946 (with William Faulkner as one of the screenwriters), and in 2005 the novel made Time magazine’s list of  100 ALL-TIME 100 Novels (published between 1923 and 2005).

All that to say that Chandler was a highly unlikely—and successful— late bloomer.

Scott W. Smith

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“Ian Fleming was massively influenced by [Raymond] Chandler. So someone like Bond is a reflection of Marlowe because he’s dry, he’s ironic, he’s the drinker, he’s the lone wolf. These characters are still with us, they still live on. And they are so totemic in their style that they will never ever age.”
Actor Toby Stephens

Back in 2011 the BBC dramatized many of Chandler’s novels including The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and Playback with Toby Stephens playing Marlowe in a series they called Classic Chandler. (You can purchase that series on iTunes.) It’s interesting to point out that the character Philip Marlowe first appear in print back in 1939 in Chandler’s novel The Big Sleep, and James Bond first appeared in print in 1953 in Flemming’s Casino Royale.

And here’s a short clip where James Bond author Ian Fleming says he “simply stole” the name James Bond. (A great example of what I wrote about in the post Where Do Ideas Come From? (A+B=C).

Related post: Raymond Chandler Interview (by Ian Flemming)

Scott W. Smith

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“Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.”
Private detective Philip Marlowe
Farewell, My Lovely written by Raymond Chandler

There’s no question that as a writer Raymond Chandler had a voice, but until this weekend I had never heard Raymond Chandler’s actual voice. I stumbled upon an interview with Chandler by writer Ian Fleming on You Tube. How about that? The creator of Phillip Marlowe being interviewed by the creator of James Bond.

Flemming: I find it extremely difficult to write about villains. Villains I find extremely difficult to put my finger on…The really good solid villain is a very difficult person to build up, I think.
Chandler: I don’t think I ever in my own mind think anybody’s a villain.

The interview was recorded in 1958—a year before Chandler died. There is a PDF of the interview which includes some interesting comments by Chandler on how killings are arranged in New York, and how he was the first to write realistically about Los Angeles.

Related Post: Screenwriting Quote #158 (William M. Akers) —“Your bad guy must always be taking action…”

Scott W. Smith

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