Raymond Chandler

I first got interested in the books of Raymond Chandler in the late 1970s when the BBC broadcast a sereis of plays based on his books with Ed Bishop (Captain Blue, Ed Straker etc) as Marlowe.

The radio plays were, and still are great. The Irish playwright Bill Morrison simplified the stories (he had to) but kept much of the Chandlerese from the books. They were re-made but are not as atmospheric.

Chandler was not a prolific author, and all his long novels have been adapted into feature films. These are the main ones:

  • “The Big Sleep” (Humphrey Bogart 1946 and Robert Mitchum 1978)
  • “Farewell, My Lovely” (Dick Powell 1944 and Robert Mitchum 1975)
  • “The High Window” (as “The Brasher Dubloon”, George Montgomery 1947)
  • “The Lady In The Lake” (Robert Montgomery [sort of] 1947)
  • “The Little Sister” (as “Marlowe”, James Garner 1969)
  • “The Long Goodbye” (Elliott Gould 1973)

The book “Playback”, Chandler’s last big work (ie not a short story, more a novella), was intended as a film but has never made it. It’s a rather incomplete book. Also, “Poodle Springs” was unfinished at Chandler’s death. Robert B Parker did attempt to finish it, and it has been a radio play and a HBO presentation, but is a minor work.

Chandler was a very different kind of author from, for example, Hammett. Hammett’s stories read like film screenplays already. Watch “The Maltese Falcon” and it is very close to the book. But Chandler was more academic and more ‘literature’, at least partly from having had an English public school education.

Chandler was behind many film scripts. He was involved in Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train”, 1951, though the less said about that the better. He wrote an original script for “The Blue Dahlia”, 1946, although it was altered at the last minute, against his wishes, as it could not be seen for an ex-service man to be a killer (the original and intended end).

And, of course, he co-wrote one of the great films of all time…

This entry was posted in Films. Bookmark the permalink.