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Raymond Chandler wrote Los Angeles

April 30, 2008 |  4:28 pm

ChandlerwithpipeRaymond Chandler's detective novels -- "The Big Sleep," "Farewell My Lovely "-- made such good movie material that Hollywood came calling. His first screenplay, written in testy collaboration with Billy Wilder, was "Double Indemnity." For six years he stuck to screenplays; finally in 1949, he returned with "The Little Sister," which, in addition to featuring an icepick killer, focused on Hollywood.

When his publisher asked him for material for the front & back of "The Little Sister," he answered:

"No dedication. No front matter from me, unless you want to vary the usual protection clause on the back of the title page by saying that 'The people and events in this book are not entirely fictional. Some of the events happened, although not in this precise time or place, and certain of the characters were suggested by real persons, both living and dead. The author regrets any resemblance to reality that may be found in the pages of his books, and he particularly regrets that he has on occasion made use of the names of real localities. He admits with shame that there actually is a place called Hollywood and a place called Los Angeles. It has streets and he has named some of them. It has a police department and he has referred to it. Los Angeles County has a District Attorney and said District Attorney has an office. To all of these matters the author has alluded. How careless of him! He should have called Los Angeles Smogville. He should have called its police department its Ministry of Corrections.' …"

If you're curious about Raymond Chandler's Smogville Los Angeles, Esotouric is doing their Chandler Bus Tour this Saturday. This tour focuses on Hollywood sites that informed his writing, appear in his books or maybe movies. Your $55 gets you four air-conditioned hours with erudite tour guides who'll take you down  Chandler's "mean streets."

Because it was Chandler who wrote "Down these mean streets a man must go." He knew Los Angeles.

Carolyn Kellogg

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