I’m a little bit sheepish to admit this, but it must have something to do with the two-syllable names. I sometimes can’t remember if Raymond Chandler is the writer and Philip Marlowe is the detective, or the other way around. Maybe after writing this post, I won’t get them confused anymore. Maybe.
Chandler was over 50 when his first novel was published. He only completed seven books, but four of them are among the best detective fiction ever published: The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell My Lovely (1940), The Lady in the Lake (1943), and The Long Goodbye (1954).
Along with Dashiell Hammett, Chandler helped create what’s known as “hardboiled” crime fiction. Philip Marlowe was a tough, sarcastic, hard-drinking private eye, but one who also showed a more thoughtful, philosophical side. The movies made from Chandler’s novels helped create a cinematic style as well, film noir.
Speaking of film, an underappreciated aspect of Chandler’s literary legacy is his screenplays. He co-wrote (with Billy Wilder) the noir classic Double Indemnity, and also collaborated on Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.
It’s hard to picture the Philip Marlowe character and not think of Humphrey Bogart (Great American Things, August 11, 2009), the actor who brought him to life in The Big Sleep. Or did Bogart portray Raymond Chandler? See, I’m still confused…