Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One of the Originals

I have often heard Raymond Chandler described as one of the "founding fathers" of the modern detective story with particular reference to his book The Big Sleep. I have recently finished listening to an audio recording. What a delight! And what a difference from some of the more current examples of the genre. TBS was originally published in 1939 and introduced Philip Marlowe, private investigator. The language is spare in the extreme but effective nonetheless. You know times are different when a PI can work in Los Angeles for $25 a day plus expenses. And what a cast of idiosyncratic unsavory characters - with a few exceptions including Marlowe. Lots of murder and mayhem.

Marlowe has his own ethics and code of professional conduct that, as often as not, involves operating outside the law. I have to say I was surprised by the way he resolves the fates of the guilty. But I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in his company.

Apparently, the book has been made into a movie - twice. Once starring Humphrey Bogart and once, much later and with substantial changes, starring Robert Mitchum.. If I had to choose, I would go with Bogey. He and Marlowe seem tailor-made for each other.

Here is a review of that 1946 film.

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