Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gumshoe Blues

Re-reading Raymond Chandler at the moment - it's been a while. God I love his writing.

I smelled Los Angeles before I got to it. It smelled stale and old like a living-room that had been closed too long. But the coloured lights fooled you. The lights were wonderful. There ought to be a monument to the man who invented neon lights. Fifteen stories high, solid marble. There's a boy who really made something out of nothing.

- 'The Little Sister' (1949)


Of course the best film of a Chandler novel, the one that truly and most accurately evokes Philip Marlowe's world of all-night drugstores, hired heavies with blackjacks, bent Bay City cops and platinum blondes who are not all they seem is, ironically, the one made, and set, in 1973 - albeit a 1973 shot through with and/or rammed uncomfortably up against Chandler's 40s, thanks in no small measure to John Williams' blue, blue score, and the constantly reiterated title song, with lyrics by Johnny less.

Jack Sheldon - 'The Long Goodbye' (vocal) (1973)
John Williams - 'The Long Goodbye' (vocal*) (1973)
Dave Grusin Trio - 'The Long Goodbye' (instrumental) (1973)

* I think, Clydie King.


  1. Oooh, Dave Grusin. Excellent!

  2. Hey, we wondered where you'd got to Major. Sorry to hear about the hassle from The Man, good to see you have a new home; link duly updated.

  3. I love love love the books but I'm not a big fan of any of the films, not even Humph and Bacall. I like The Maltese Falcon movie very much, though. I wonder if that novel is somehow that much more cinematic in itself - it's certainly much shorter, and kind of less complex. I remember starting The Big Sleep for the first time and just grinning about how wonderful it was by the end of the first page, and reading all of the books kind of haphazardly, when I found copies of them, but then sitting down and reading them in order and how powerful I found the end of it all. Have you got 'the pencil', the short story that kind of goes somewhere near the end but before 'Playback'?

  4. No - I have 'Playback' though - really like its late, weary, tone.

    As far as the movies go, Altman gets the spirit of the books better than anyone I think, and the 70s/40s mash-up is just brilliant.

  5. The Long Goodbye is marvelous (his best book too) and, as you say, really captures Marlowe's (and Chandler's) world-weariness, but the snap and crackle of Hawks' The Big Sleep is pretty damn great too.

  6. we've just had 'raymond chandler speaking' out of the library and it's immense. the man sure could write a letter. well lots of letters. the ones about his wife just tear you up. get a copy if you popssibly can dear.

  7. Oh yes, I have had one these many years - other things go to the Oxfam, but that never does x

  8. I must see the altman film never caught it. As to films does chinatown count? I know it's not a chandler adaption. Dashiel hammets good too Red Harvest being the basis of about half the films you've ever seen.

  9. I must read it!

    word verif = stingst - which is a bit harsh.

  10. I know they're better in context, but still...


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