Meet Gumshoe Philip Marlowe!
Humphrey Bogart is one of Hollywood’s most legendary Actors – and one character in particular is our focus today…Wednesday’s Bookmobile heads into an era of gumshoes and dames – by focusing on a collection of novels that are are original “pulp fiction” – great crime stories from one of our greatest Writers…
A Stack Of Raymond Chandler!
Time to share some classic “film noir” – in this case “book noir” with a collection of gritty, tough works of fiction with one of literature’s most memorable characters…first, let’s meet Author Raymond Chandler.
Chandler began his journey to became one of America’s greatest Writers in 1932, at the age of forty-four, after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Great Depression. His first short story, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”, was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, “The Big Sleep”, was published in 1939.
Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature. He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction, along with Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain.
Let’s take a look at his work, and some of his most memorable lines, beginning with his debut novel…
“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts”
– The Big Sleep
“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.”
– The Big Sleep
What a great line!
The protagonist of Chandler’s crime novels was Detective Philip Marlowe, a Private detective who finds himself mired in crimes and betrayal. Marlowe was played in films by Humphrey Bogart, and you can imagine how great these tough-as-nails lines sounded coming from him.
“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket”
– Farewell, My Lovely
Another incredible line.
These are all my paperbacks, and they have a variety of covers, based on when they were released…I like this “pulpy” style…which matches the way Marlowe thinks.
Chandler’s second Marlowe novel, “Farewell, My Lovely” was released in 1940. Here are some more great lines:
“It was a nice face, a face you get to like. Pretty, but not so pretty that you would have to wear brass knuckles every time you took it out.”
“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.”
Marlowe’s observations are always sharp as a knife, and he never sugar-coasted his own circumstances:
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.”
“The High Window” was next up in 1942. Again, more great writing…
“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.”
– The High Window
“The Lady in the Lake” followed in 1943 – Chandler was on a creative roll…he also began to write screenplays, working with Alfred Hitchcock on “Strangers On A Train” and “Double Indemnity” with Billy Wilder as well…
“The Little Sister” was next, published in 1949…with more writing that evoked such great imagery…
“It could have been a beautiful friendship,” Beifus said with a sigh. “Except for the ice pick, of course.”
– The Little Sister
“She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.”
– The Little Sister
I love that line. Next up was another of his most well known works:
“The Long Goodbye” was released in 1953 – another classic Philip Marlowe detective story with some great one-liners…
There was a sad fellow over on a bar stool talking to the bartender, who was polishing a glass and listening with that plastic smile people wear when they are trying not to scream.”
“I knew one thing: as soon as anyone said you didn’t need a gun, you’d better take one along that worked.”
“The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To say goodbye is to die a little.”
As I mentioned earlier, many of these books were made into films, including this one, directed by the legendary Robert Altman in 1973, with Elliott Gould as the caustic Detective:
Movie buffs noticed that Marlowe lived in the iconic “Hollywood Hightower”, which is a real building the looks like this:
Altman shot some of the movie at that location, and you can see that story by clicking here:
“Playback” was Chandler’s last book, released in 1958. There were seven novels during his lifetime – an eighth, Poodle Springs was in progress at the time of his death, was completed by Robert B. Parker and released in 1989.
“Killer In The Rain” was a collection of his short stories, released in 1964. And speaking of short stories, how about the epode of “The Marry Tyler Moore Show” that paid homage to the Writer!
Yes, the opening paragraph from Chandler’s 1938 short story “Red Wind” was read aloud on the show by Lou Grant to Mary Richards – this happened because Mary gave Lou Grant a short story she wrote, and it was awful – she argued and he asked her if she wanted to hear good writing – then he read this:
“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.”
There is a pause and then Mary says: “he writes well about the weather.”
Oh, and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was one of the most controversial and important TV shows of the early 70’s…why? Well, read my story here to find out:
Bravo to the Writers of the show for including Raymond Chandler! I hope you enjoyed this Wednesday Bookmobile collection. I am about to re-read these books because I love the genre and he is brilliant Writer!