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Raymond Chandler

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In 1939, his first novel, The Big Sleep, was published. He went on to write six more novels, many of which were made into movies. He also wrote original screenplays, such as Double Indemnity (1944) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

Born out of the tradition of Hammett and James M. Cain, Chandler's work and his protagonist Philip Marlowe stand as one of the landmarks of American literature.

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Tim Sismey - 04:52am Apr 10, 2000 PST(#64 of 79)

Hmmmm.... Going to have to beg to differ there Marlowe... Your namesake is ALWAYS getting involved, and it's always his undoing. He falls for Orfamay Quest's charms, and because he's so morally unbending is regularly caught out by those more slippery than he is. By my reckoning, he only remains conscious all the way through one book!! He wants to do the right thing by his clients, who more often than not are the most crooked characters in the book (The Long Goodbye, The High window, the Little Sister, Farewell My Lovely all have clients who end up being the actual crims). Compare this to Sam Spade, who is employed by Miss Wonderly without being taken in by her ("we didn't believe your story, we believed you 200 dollars") Don't get me wrong, I like marlowe, but I think he's out of step with his surroundings. He's trying to take the rules of the Round Table and apply them to Hollywood, and it doesn't work. "This isn't a game for knights", as he notes in 'The Big Sleep'...

P Marlowe - 03:39pm Apr 15, 2000 PST(#65 of 79)
Glenview 7537 - Hollywood

Agreed, Tim, but in a world without rules, which post-WWII America had become, Marlowe was the best of all men.

Sam Spade lived by some of the same codes as Marlowe, but infinitely more corrupt.

If or when Marlowe did become involved, like Spade, he did not suffer the consequences as did other modern heroes who misunderstood the rules of engagement.

That is what makes these books. Romanticism was dead and existentialist heroes living a naturalistic predetermination took its place.

Marlowe was the last of the romantics, but he certainly did not succumb like Robert in "The Sun Also Rises" or a multitude of lost souls who populate the film noir of that era.

Hugh Drummond - 04:12am May 3, 2000 PST(#66 of 79)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Oddly enough, some blokes rather like Marlowe's Quixotry. Usually because we are also saps, who will fall for a pretty face, nice ankles, and a well worked-out sob story.


Tim Sismey - 03:22am May 5, 2000 PST(#67 of 79)

Please don't get me wrong, guys. I think Marlowe's a great character, and I love the stories, but he's just not a very effective detective, is he? Does he ever actually manage to protect his client successfully? I don't think so. But he's true to himself, and that's the important thing.

P Marlowe - 03:06pm May 6, 2000 PST(#68 of 79)
Glenview 7537 - Hollywood

Tim Sismey, you are right - he certainly was not Sherlock Holmes, but on the other hand he didn't live in the romanticized world of Victorian England either. Marlowe wasn't effective because there is a kind of Natural Predetermination that was already in affect. The ill-fates of those who populated his books had been settled long before Marlowe was on the scene. In other words the story is already over.

That which the person who hires Marlowe wishes to keep from happening has already happened.

Examples: The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, Farewell, My Lovely - in each case nothing Marlowe did would have changed or erased one circumstance. Think about it! Spade simply was not a well developed character only showwing up in one book. We were more or less stuck with our first impressions.

Tim Sismey - 02:50am May 10, 2000 PST(#69 of 79)

That's a nice point. I'd not really thought about it in those terms. I suppose in a world where everything has been predetermined, then the only thing the individual can control is his own individuality, hence the fact that Marlowe sticks so resolutely to his 'knight in a powder-blue suit' morailty even after he's realised that 'this isn't a game for knights'.

As for Spade, I like his moral ambiguity, but you're right again - one story, no real character as such. I prefer the Continental Op, for his anti-Marlowe, do-anything-to-get-the-job-done approach. It's like marlowe resists the pressure of the world around him, is powerless to change anything, but remains his own man, whereas the Op lets his environment crush him, becomes like the criminals he tracks, but risks becoming like The Old man who 'has no feelings of any sort on anything'. i know who I'd rather be....

Hugh Drummond - 08:12am May 26, 2000 PST(#70 of 79)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Me too, laddie. Having no feelings on anything can get rather boring after a while. After all, what does one do on a moonlit night?


Mario Silva - 01:58pm Jul 17, 2002 PST(#71 of 79)

Both Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were great. But for me Chandler was a bit too sentimental I prefer the dry "objective" style of Hammett.

And yes Marlowe was too much of a a knight...Sam Spade and above all the Continental Op had more grip.

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