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Category: Raymond Chandler

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler



Frank MacShane; Raymond Chandler Biographer

November 27, 1999


After Frank MacShane moved to Berkeley to teach at the University of California, a friend gave him a bit of advice. "If you want to know what California is like," he said, "read Raymond Chandler."

So MacShane read Chandler's hard-boiled novels like "Farewell, My Lovely," "The Big Sleep," "The High Window" and "The Lady in the Lake," with their tough-guy hero Philip Marlowe; he read the poetry that Chandler wrote as a youth in England; and he read Chandler's letters, which the novelist proclaimed were "more penetrating" than any of the other forms of writing he had tried.

MacShane became an expert on the work, and then the biographer of what one observer called an "exceedingly complex and obviously deeply unhappy man."

Chandler would arguably be the most famous author that MacShane would study in his long career as a teacher, scholar and biographer. He wrote well-received biographies of Ford Maddox Ford, James Jones and John O'Hara, writers that MacShane called "the stepchildren of literature."

"Who needs another Hemingway biography?" he once said. "One of my motives in writing literary biographies is to look at a writer whose position is not set and try to place him, give him an evaluation."

But by the time of his death Nov. 15 in Gloucester, Mass., of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 72, MacShane was most closely identified with Chandler.

"The Life of Raymond Chandler," published in 1976, received generally favorable reviews. Larry McMurtry, writing in the Washington Post, called it "virtually a model of what literary biography should be."

Leonard Michaels, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called MacShane an "extremely polite biographer," adding that the work "gives an immensely detailed portrait of Chandler the man."

That portrait, painted largely in his own words from letters and other correspondence, was less than flattering. Chandler was an alcoholic, a hypochondriac, a philanderer, a man given to bouts of nerves and extreme depression. He suffered from painful skin allergies, including one that spread over his chest and neck and could be relieved only by the use of morphine. Other allergies, including one that caused the skin between his fingers to split, made simple tasks like shaking hands extremely painful.

Chandler started writing pulp fiction stories in 1932 at the age of 44.

A year later, his stories began to appear regularly in Black Mask magazine. "The Big Sleep" appeared in 1939, sealing Chandler's success as a writer. He died of bronchial pneumonia at 70 in 1959, the same year that MacShane started working at the University of California.

Chandler seemed to take his letters, which could be biting, funny and often penetrating, most seriously.

Of Graham Greene's work he once wrote: "Am reading 'The Heart of the Matter' . . . which has everything in it that makes literature except verve, wit, gust, must and magic . . . There is more life in the worst chapter Dickens or Thackeray ever wrote, and they wrote some pretty awful chapters."

But he had extreme respect for Dashiell Hammett, writing to an editor at Atlantic Monthly: "I reread the [Maltese] Falcon not long ago . . . by God, if you can show me 20 books written 20 years back that have as much guts and live now, I'll eat them . . . "

In commenting on writing in a letter to Erle Stanley Gardner, Chandler clearly described the qualities that characterized his own literary success. "When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea. . . . It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over the ball."

MacShane continued to take on difficult issues after Chandler, moving on to Ford, O'Hara and Jones.

MacShane's most difficult time, however, would come in the mid-1990s, when he developed Alzheimer's. He recognized its progression and in conversation would often pause in mid-sentence to grope for words he could not find.

"It's this damned disease, you know," he explained.

MacShane was the son of a journalist who became publisher of the New York Journal American, then the Hearst flagship paper. Born in Pittsburgh, MacShane studied literature at Harvard, Yale and Oxford, where he received his doctorate in 1955. After teaching at Berkeley, MacShane landed at Columbia some years later and founded the graduate Writing Division of the university's school of the arts.

For the always courtly and professorial MacShane, biography was more than a chronicle, and he disagreed with fellow biographer Ted Morgan, who believed that "biography is just journalism."

MacShane dropped projects on Ezra Pound and Edward Dahlberg after developing a hostility toward them, saying, "If I'm going to spend three years on someone, wake up every day with him, make that kind of investment, it better be someone I like."

Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.

Raymond Chandler Dies -- March 26, 1959


Raymond Chandler's death makes Page 1 of the Mirror-News, all three paragraphs. 

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler

The Mystery Man

Raymond Chandler captured the heartbeat of L.A. A new collection shows his influence still resonates in our times.

November 3, 1995


If, as is often said, every city has at least one writer it can claim for a muse, Raymond Chandler must be Los Angeles'. To be sure, there are other candidates: John Fante and Nathanael West come immediately to mind, while from a later generation, Joan Didion more than makes the grade. Yet Fante's work was too personal to be truly universal, and West's oeuvre was just too small. Didion, for her part, has become an author of global vision, which may explain why she abandoned Southern California for New York.

That leaves Chandler as the one L.A. writer whose books have as a consistent center the idea of the city as a living, breathing character--capturing the sights, the smells, the bleak glare of the sunlight, the deceptive smoothness of the surface beneath which nothing is as it seems.

Even the fact that Chandler wrote mysteries, not literary fiction, is oddly fitting, for Los Angeles has always existed not so much in conjunction with East Coast or European intellectual traditions as in reaction to them, a place where high and low culture constantly merge. Maybe it's the influence of the movies, or, in the words of novelist John Gregory Dunne, the fact that "Los Angeles is three thousand miles away."

But as biographer Frank MacShane explains in "The Life of Raymond Chandler," "There is something appropriate in Chandler's choosing the detective story as his vehicle for presenting Los Angeles. . . . The detective story, so peculiar to the modern city, can involve an extraordinary range of humanity, from the very rich to the very poor, and can encompass a great many different places. Most of Chandler's contemporaries who wrote 'straight' fiction--Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner, for example--confined themselves to a special setting and a limited cast of characters. The detective story, however, allowed Chandler to create the whole of Los Angeles in much the same way that such 19th-Century novelists as Dickens and Balzac created London and Paris for future generations."

Chandler, of course, has never been a Los Angeles secret; his books have sold steadily from the moment they began to appear more than 50 years ago, and his distinctive, clipped style and characters have become so persuasive as to be cultural cliches. Half a century later, Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye, a solitary hero who, in "Farewell, My Lovely," sums up his point of view: "I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a house in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."

It's a desolate perspective, almost prototypically existential, that at the same time implies a certain moral vision, a sense of seeing the world for the darkness it holds and still trying to do what's right. It's because of this, I believe, that Chandler's influence has continued to resonate so strongly in our own times, since when you get right down to it, Marlowe knows the score.

Thinking about that, I can't help wondering what Chandler's detective would make of the recent release by the Library of America of "Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels" and "Raymond Chandler: Later Novels and Other Writings," a two-volume, 2,200-page set collecting all seven Marlowe novels and 13 short stories, along with some miscellaneous odds and ends. Such a publication represents a validation. But it's also a bit incongruous, as if we're getting away with something when what we find staring back at us from all that onionskin paper--delicate like a Bible--is Philip Marlowe and his black-and-white world.

What's most striking about the Library of America's interest in Chandler is the fact that he's not only the first "genre" writer they've collected, but the first Los Angeles writer as well. Nowhere in the series' 50-odd volumes will you find, say, Fante or West, nor even F. Scott Fitzgerald, who, toward the end of his life, turned his eye upon Hollywood. According to publisher Max Rudin, that doesn't mean much. "There's a common misperception that order says something about literary significance," he says. "But our decisions have to balance our mission--to produce a series that will ultimately include all significant American writers--with staying alive."

Nonetheless, there's an irony at work since the Library of America was originally the dream of critic Edmund Wilson, whose 1945 New Yorker essay "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?" dismissed virtually the entire mystery genre except for Chandler, damning him instead with faint praise. Wilson died before his idea for the library became a reality, but you have to wonder what he might think about Chandler's inclusion and what it says about what Rudin calls the "false dichotomy" between literary and popular culture, which seems to grow smaller every day.

In any event, one thing's for certain: Chandler himself would have loved it. American-born but educated in England, he was a mild-mannered man who wore tweed jackets and smoked a pipe, and lived in a succession of nondescript homes with his invalid wife, Cissy. Throughout his life, he fancied himself an intellectual and brought a poet's intensity to his work.

"What people may not know about Raymond Chandler," Rudin suggests, "is what a self-conscious artist he was." The work in the Library of America set bears this out. There is the fiction, much of it polished and taut, although executive editor Geoffrey O'Brien admits that "the early novels ['The Big Sleep,' 'Farewell, My Lovely' and 'The High Window'] are stronger."

But more telling are the five essays and the 30-page selection of letters, which crystallize Chandler's aesthetics in an unexpected way. "The Simple Art of Murder," for instance, originally published in the Atlantic Monthly in December, 1944, is so concise and well-reasoned a representation of the author's ideas that I have dogeared nearly every page. When, toward the beginning of the piece, Chandler writes, "There are not vital and significant forms of art; there is only art, and precious little of that," it is as clear a declaration of war against "the trained seals of the critical fraternity" as you're likely to find. "It is always a matter of who writes the stuff, and what he has in him to write it with," Chandler claims. "Everything written with vitality expresses that vitality; there are no dull subjects, only dull minds."

This is an absolutely essential point, one that bears repeating. For the distinction between genre fiction and serious literature is spurious, whether your frame of reference is Hollywood or Manhattan's publishing world. A description like "The Little Sister's" reference to California as "the department-store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing" is simply good writing; there's no need to place an asterisk next to it because it appeared in a detective novel.

Sure, Chandler's plotting can be spotty--one of my favorite stories about him involved a telegram Howard Hawks sent during production of "The Big Sleep," asking who had killed the chauffeur; Chandler, it is said, responded, "I don't know."

But as O'Brien explains, "For Chandler, plot was something to string together a series of powerfully imagined scenes. His real appeal is his formalism: His work is as completely stylized as a Kabuki play, an absolutely formal dance that pretends to be realism. Style is what it was all about." And novelist Carolyn See, who teaches Chandler at UCLA, says, "His strength as a writer was his evocation of scenes. He takes us into a different world, a world that's like ours, but isn't. It's a violent world, a random world, in which it doesn't matter who did it, just how you behave."

Chandler himself made no bones about his goals as a writer: "It doesn't matter a damn what a novel is about," he wrote in a 1945 letter to the Atlantic's Charles Morton. "The only writers left who have anything to say are those who write about practically nothing and monkey around with odd ways of doing it."

In a classically perverse twist, however, Chandler spent years working in Hollywood. An adaptation of James M. Cain's "Double Indemnity," which Chandler co-wrote with director Billy Wilder, is included in the Library of America collection, and it makes for a vivid lesson in the art of collaborating for the screen. Sheldon MacArthur, manager of West Hollywood's Mysterious Bookstore, who has read Chandler's first draft, says, "It has great mood, great description, but was unfilmable; it made no sense." The finished script, on the other hand, "is superb, seminal. It retains all of Chandler's dialogue, but Wilder made the plot work."

In MacArthur's view, Chandler's Hollywood experience was ultimately destructive. "He began to be unsure of himself as a writer, and that, in turn, made him drink," he says. "In addition, he didn't like many of the films made from his own books."

That represents another contradiction, for it is the screen versions of Chandler's novels that brought his characters and situations so forcefully to the forefront of the popular imagination and guaranteed their survival as American archetypes. To this day, more people are probably familiar with Philip Marlowe from Humphrey Bogart's portrayal in "The Big Sleep" than from anything Chandler ever wrote.

"I think a lot more people have seen the Chandler movies than read the books," says Rob Cohen, who publishes the bimonthly literary journal Caffeine, "and that's where the influence begins. It was so cool and yet so underground."

Given all the cultural currency of film noir, it's hardly astonishing to see directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Carl Franklin make movies that hark back to the golden age of Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Nor is it unexpected that such mystery writers as Walter Mosley and Robert B. Parker have been profoundly moved by what Chandler has done.

Even the new TV series "Murder One" borrows from Chandler in the seamless way it commingles the highest and lowest levels of society, bringing together movie stars and pornographers, philanthropists and teen-age prostitutes. "He's the perfect novelist for our times," See explains, "because he tells us what we already know--that the system and criminals are equally corrupt. He sets up a pastoral world that's totally infested with evil. The whole place bespeaks alienation, and no one is better than anyone else."

If there were any doubt as to the continued relevance of this perspective in portraying the social landscape of Los Angeles, all we need to do is look to the recent events at the courthouse: a Chandleresque bit of vaudeville if ever there was one, in which we have been offered yet another glimpse at the ways in which there is no such thing as the moral upper hand.

Chandler's prescience may be why, of all the detective novelists, he has exerted the most crossover effect on so-called serious authors. From Charles Bukowski, whose final novel "Pulp" was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the hard-boiled genre, to Paul Auster, whose mid-1980s "New York Trilogy" recast the detective novel from a post-modern point of view, Chandler has cast a long shadow. Indeed, Chandler's conjoining of the vernacular with literary textures suggests a direction for writers to pursue at a time when traditional methods of storytelling have begun to seem contrived, too fixed and non-fluid to encompass the jarring juxtapositions that make up real life.

Of course, the question that begs to be answered is why Chandler's stripped-down, edgy style of writing has come so fully to define Los Angeles. Is it because such an attitude is somehow endemic to the city, or just that Chandler's own voice is now, as MacArthur believes, "the first thing that comes to mind when you think about L.A."? In other words, is Chandler the architect of the Southern California aesthetic or merely the writer who brought it to its highest form?

It's an issue you can play with endlessly, one that, in all likelihood, will never be resolved. "Real life," says writer Benjamin Weissman, "has influenced a lot of Los Angeles writers more than Chandler has," and certainly many of Chandler's contemporaries wrote about the city in their own world-weary terms.

Fante, for instance, begins "Ask the Dust" with a statement that could be Marlowe talking: "One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill down in the very middle of Los Angeles. It was an important night in my life because I had to make a decision about the hotel. Either I paid up or I got out: that was what the note said, the note the landlady had put under my door. A great problem deserving acute attention. I solved it by turning out the lights and going to bed."

And in "The Day of the Locust," West writes with equal succinctness about the emptiness of the California dream. "Where else should they go but California, the land of sunshine and oranges?" he asks. "Once there, they discover that sunshine isn't enough. They get tired of oranges, even of avocado pears and passion fruit. Nothing happens. They don't know what to do with their time."

Perhaps the bottom line is, as See suggests, that "you can look at the West Coast as the end of the road for the American dream. We're up against a blank wall here, and we can't go any farther. There is no out, you're here." If so, then Chandler stands not as creator but pioneer, who captured the dislocation at the heart of Los Angeles in as vivid a way as anyone before or since.

Even Didion, who, according to husband John Gregory Dunne "has not read Chandler and has nothing to say about him," operates in the Chandler mold. Her essay "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream" opens with a description of Santa Ana winds season that seems right out of Chandler's "Red Wind," and in "Pacific Distances," she captures the Zeitgeist of a city that, apparently, has not changed since Marlowe walked its streets. "When I first moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1964," Didion writes, "I found [the] absence of narrative a deprivation. At the end of two years I realized (quite suddenly, alone one morning in the car) that I had come to find narrative sentimental."

Narrative sentimental? That's a hard-boiled conception if I ever heard one, and it makes me think of Chandler again. After all, he, too, thought narrative was sentimental and saw no room for its deceptions in a city as brutal, as "lost and beaten and full of emptiness," as Los Angeles. For him, the writer was a kind of detective, and it was his job to see through the illusions and get at the truth.

As he writes in "The Little Sister," "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 colored 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."

Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler

Novelist Born 100 Years Ago

Raymond Chandler's L.A. Joins in Celebrating Him

October 10, 1988

By PAUL FELDMAN, Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles was founded by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s. But some believe that the idea of Los Angeles was not crystallized until 150 years later, by a Chicago-born, English-bred detective writer--Raymond Chandler.

This year, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, the literary world is paying tribute to Chandler, who so adeptly captured the fading physical splendor of his adopted home's canyons and flatlands while slicing through its social underbelly with sword-like similes.

In bookstores, a uniform soft-cover series of Chandler's seven novels, all featuring his sardonic but noble private eye, Philip Marlowe, is newly available. So is a hard-cover collection of 23 fresh Marlowe stories penned by leading contemporary writers.

Also on the market is a lavishly illustrated $425 limited edition of "The Big Sleep," a photographic volume of "Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles" and a colorful $5 Chandler mystery map of the city, highlighting the dozens of still-standing structures in which Marlowe stumbled upon corpses, conferred with clients or was struck with saps.

Later this week, an exhibit of Chandler's personal correspondence will open at the UCLA University Research Library, which along with Oxford University houses one of two major collections of Chandler's papers.

And on Sunday, the UCLA Friends of English sponsored a centennial birthday commemoration in Pacific Palisades, featuring some of the leading lights of Los Angeles literature, including Roger L. Simon, Robert Campbell, Kate Braverman, Eve Babitz and Carolyn See. More than 200 guests, many garbed in '30s attire, listened to actor Walter Matthau read a passage from "The Big Sleep," and author Wanda Coleman read a poem she wrote in memory of Chandler titled "The Big Bleep."

All of this for a shy, cranky, alcoholic former oil executive, who did not complete his first novel until he was 51 and whose 1959 funeral in La Jolla drew a mere 17 mourners.

"Raymond Chandler has lived beyond his grave much better than most authors of his time," declared detective novelist Simon, who heads the North America chapter of the International Assn. of Crime Writers. "I think it's pretty clear that Chandler's descriptions have become the official descriptions of Los Angeles for the world, and his impact on writers inside and outside the crime genre has been tremendous."

Said UCLA English Department Chairman Daniel G. Calder: "Chandler created the idea of Los Angeles--what it's like, how it feels to be here. . . . Sort of a paradox of great comfort and ease but corruption at the same time. A spoiled paradise."

Love-Hate Relationship

Chandler's writings revealed an intense love-hate relationship with Los Angeles, where he lived from 1912 to 1946, excluding a stint in the Canadian Army during World War I.

At times, he displayed a wistful, affectionate attitude through Marlowe, one of America's first great anti-heroes.

"I used to like this town . . . a long time ago," Marlowe reflects in "The Little Sister," published in 1949. "There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. Beverly Hills was a country town. Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and no takers. Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the inter-urban line. Los Angeles was just a big, dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but good-hearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep out on porches. Little groups who thought they were intellectual used to call it the Athens of America. It wasn't that, but it wasn't a neon-lighted slum, either."

Chandler's ever-pithy dialogue was not always so romantic.

The City of Angels, he once wrote, was in some senses "a mail-order city. Everything in the catalogue you could get better somewhere else."

Hollywood fared no better. "The making of a picture ought surely to be a rather fascinating adventure," Chandler, who wrote five screenplays, stated in a 1945 essay. "It is not; it is an endless contention of tawdry egos, some of them powerful, almost all of them vociferous, and almost none of them capable of anything much more creative than credit-stealing and self-promotion."

Chandler would never have received a commission from the local Chamber of Commerce. Yet with little question his work cast a curious sense of glory on even the most seedy aspects of urban life in Los Angeles and the human condition in general.

Appeal Described

"He made corruption and vice extremely attractive," contends novelist/ critic See. "He made it so glamorous--his hideous little boarding houses, those gambling boats. You never think, 'Oh, how disgusting!' You think, 'Gee, I wish I could get on one of those gambling boats. I'd like to meet an ice-pick murderer.' "

Moreover, there were his terse, evocative descriptions--of "wide shallow house(s) with rose color walls," of "jacaranda trees beginning to bloom," and of "the violet light at the top of Bullock's green-tinged tower"--which have forever seared the Los Angeles of the 1930s and '40s into the nation's consciousness.

"There's one street I call the Raymond Chandler Memorial Parkway-Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena," notes novelist Babitz. "You get that strange feeling of Raymond Chandler. It's just sort of like decadent East Coast gentility smashed up against the orange groves."

Chandler was an unlikely candidate to become the bard of Los Angeles.

Born in Chicago on July, 23, 1888, he moved to London with his Irish-English mother at age 7 after his father deserted the family. Upon his graduation from college, Chandler sporadically sold poems and essays before moving here in 1912. He labored briefly on an apricot ranch and in a sporting goods shop before entering the oil business.

Chandler, who changed addresses almost as often as a criminal on the lam, eventually rose to the position of director for eight small, independent oil firms. But he was fired during the Depression, at age 44.

Another Try at Writing

At that point, he made a final stab at writing, seeking to emulate such contemporary hard-boiled mystery novelists as Dashiell Hammett and Horace McCoy. Chandler, who was married to a woman 17 years his senior, quickly sold several short stories to the pulp magazines Black Mask and Dime Detective. His first novel, "The Big Sleep," was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1939.

Throughout Chandler's life, the detective genre was sneered at by the literary establishment.

"You make Mr. Chandler sound like a very interesting detective story writer indeed," New York Times chief book critic Orville Prescott wrote to a Chandler devotee in 1943. "Unfortunately, I never have time to read them, preoccupied as I am with books of more general interest."

Such attitudes embittered Chandler, who believed, as the world eventually would, that his work was far more than simple-minded entertainment.

In a 1944 letter to the same fan, now stored in the UCLA collection, Chandler railed, "Once in a while a detective story writer is treated as a writer, but very seldom. . . . However well and expertly he writes a mystery story, it will be treated in one paragraph (reviews) while a column and a half of respectful attention will be given to any fourth-rate, ill-constructed, mock-serious account of the life of a bunch of cotton pickers in the deep south. The French are the only people I know of who think about writing as writing. The Anglo-Saxons think first of the subject matter, and second, if at all, of the quality."

Plots Called Convoluted

Not that Chandler's writing was above criticism. Some have complained that his range was limited or that his plots were far too convoluted.

For example, during the filming of "The Big Sleep," which starred Humphrey Bogart, director Howard Hawks sent a telegram to Chandler asking who killed a certain character in the script. Chandler wired back, "I don't know."

"What that shows is that it doesn't matter," contends Hollywood author David Freeman. "The issue isn't clarity of plot but depth of character, the range of emotion and the sense of place. That's why we go back to Chandler over and over again."

During his 20-year career, Chandler completed seven Marlowe novels, including "The Long Goodbye," "The Lady in the Lake" and "Farewell, My Lovely." Six have been turned into movies, with Marlowe played by Bogart, Robert Mitchum, James Garner and Elliott Gould.

With his acerbic wit, the real-life Chandler was to some degree similar to his hero, Marlowe. But in other ways, Chandler was far different from his intrepid investigator: A retiring man, at times a near recluse, the pipe-smoking, owlish Chandler exuded the air of a slightly batty English professor.

Contemplated Suicide

After the death of his wife, Cissy, in 1954, Chandler nearly disintegrated, turning increasingly to alcohol, and frequently contemplating suicide.

When he died on March 26, 1959, Chandler left a friend and literary agent, Helga Greene, his entire estate, which amounted to $60,000 and any future earnings from copyrights.

The rights, as it turned out, have proven extremely lucrative.

Although no public figures are available, Chandler's novels have remained steady sellers, and four movies and a Marlowe TV series have been produced since his death.

Plans are currently in the works, says film agent Robert Bookman, for yet another Philip Marlowe film, this one based on "Poodle Springs," a novel that Chandler failed to complete before he died.

Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler



Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler


Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler

Dec. 16, 1973: A reappraisal of "The Long Goodbye."



Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler


April 29, 1962: Robert R. Kirsch reviews "Raymond Chandler Speaking," a collection of letters, notes, articles and a piece of an unfinished novel, "Poodle Springs." 

And so did film writer Philip K. Scheuer:


Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler

Oct. 22, 1961: Although this pictorial feature wasn't specifically about Raymond Chandler, it uses a quote of his to describe Bunker Hill, which was vanishing.

"In the tall rooms, haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants. On the wide, cool front porches, reaching their cracked shoes into the sun at staring at nothing, with the old men with faces like lost battles."  
--"The High Window," 1941




Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler


My friend Mary McCoy passes along Raymond Chandler's listing from the 1955 San Diego phone book, which she discovered while going through the directories at the Los Angeles Public Library. 

Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler

Philip Carey discusses his new TV show, "Philip Marlowe," written by Gene Wang, formerly of "Perry Mason." 
Archive of American Television interview with Philip Carey, 2002.

Trouble Was His Business -- Raymond Chandler


The Times: Oct. 15, 1958
We finally review a Chandler novel and, alas, it's "Playback." Not a great book, but Kirsch offers some concise analysis. "There is no mindless violence in Chandler," Kirsch writes. "There are no gimmicks in Chandler, artificial devices of plot for the purpose of surprise. He does not write the classic puzzler." 

Note: To mark the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's death, the Daily Mirror is revisiting some of The Times' stories about his life and influence. We invite the Daily Mirror's readers to share their thoughts.


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