Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shit Talkin' Tough Guys: Philip Marlowe

One of the original anti-hero tough guys is Raymond Chandler's iconic private investigator Philip Marlowe, and the best of Chandler's books is the excellent The Big Sleep.

Marlowe meets Vivian Regan:

[...] "I don't see what there is to be cagey about," she snapped. "And I don't like your manners."

"I'm not crazy about yours," I said. "I didn't ask to see you. You sent for me. I don't mind your ritzing me or drinking your lunch out of a Scotch bottle. I don't mind your showing me your legs. They're very swell legs and it's a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I greive over them during the long winter evenings. But don't waste your time trying to cross-examine me."

Oh, there will be more from Mr. Marlowe. Even the bad Marlowe novels have got some of the genres great lines.


Arkonbey said...

I just finished listening to The Big Sleep (read by Elliot Gould of all people). Chandler lines may seem really clunky when read, but when spoken, it's a different story.

I'll probably catch a lot of flack here, but I felt it was a rather like Shakespeare Noir. Like Shakespeare, people don't ever really talk like that, but you get the feeling they should.

I also read the Maltese Falcon for the first time this year and I like Hammet, but I like Chandler better. Hammet seems way to fascinated with eyes.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Hi Arkonbey. Thanks for dropping by.

Chandler was very well read in the classics, and it is arguable that Sleep is a form of grail quest story. The first chapter really sets the stage with the semi-prophetic stained glass knight, the aging, sick king [Gen. Sternwood], Vivian is a bit of a Guenevere; Carmen as Morgana. As for Elliot Gould, he played Marlowe in The Long Goodbye (1973). Would not have been my choice, but he was big in the '70s :-)

As for Hammett; Falcon is a great book. Like Chandler, he was skilled beyond his genre. Give Red Harvest a try (one of his Continental Op stories). I can't decide if I like it better than Falcon. I really like them both.

Arkonbey said...

thanks for the recommendations, I'm going to hit the library this week!

I like Gould, so I hate to speak ill of him, but he's really never been cut out for a serious dramatic role.

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