Raymond Chandler

imageProlific American Crime thriller writer and Screenwriter Raymond Chandler was born 23 July 1888. In Chicago Illinois. Among His best known novels are Farewell my Lovely and the Big Sleep and many of his novels have also been turned into films starring the late great Robert Mitchum. He became a crime thriller writer in 1932 when at the age of 44 he found himself redundant from his job at an oil company and due to his straitened financial circumstances during the Great Depression, Chandler turned to his latent writing talent to earn a living, teaching himself to write pulp fiction by studying the Perry Mason story formula of Erle Stanley Gardner. Chandler’s first professional work, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”, was published in Black Mask magazine in 1933; his first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939, featuring his famous Philip Marlowe detective character speaking in the first person.

His second Marlowe novel, Farewell, My Lovely (1940), became the basis for three movie versions adapted by other screenwriters, including 1944’s Murder My Sweet (which marked the screen debut of the Marlowe character), starring Dick Powell (whose depiction of Marlowe Chandler reportedly applauded). Literary success and film adaptations led to a demand for Chandler himself as a screenwriter. He and Billy Wilder co-wrote Double Indemnity (1944), based on James M. Cain’s novel of the same name. The noir screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Chandler’s only produced original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia (1946). Which gained Chandler’s second Academy Award nomination for screenplay. Chandler also collaborated on the screenplay of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), an ironic fantasy murder story based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same title. However Chandler and Hitchcock did not get on very well. In 1946 the Chandlers moved to La Jolla, California, an affluent coastal neighborhood of San Diego, where Chandler wrote the final two Philip Marlowe novels, The Long Goodbye and his last completed work, Playback. The latter was derived from an unproduced courtroom drama screenplay he had written for Universal Studios.

Chandler’s final Marlowe short story, circa 1957, was entitled “The Pencil”. It later provided the basis of an episode for an HBO mini-series (1983–86) entitled Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, starring Powers Boothe as Marlowe. Four chapters of a novel, unfinished at his death, were also transformed into a final “Chandler” Philip Marlowe book, Poodle Springs, by mystery writer and Chandler admirer Robert B. Parker, author of the “Spenser” series, in 1989. Parker shares the authorship with Chandler, and subsequently wrote his own Marlowe sequel to The Big Sleep entitled Perchance to Dream.

Sadly After a successful and highly prolific writing career Chandler passed away on March 26 1959 at his home in La Jolla, California. However before he died he was elected President of the Mystery Writers of America and His crime thrillers continues to have an immense stylistic influence on many other crime fiction writers and American Popular Literature in general. He is considered to be one of the founding author of the Hard Boiled style of Detective Fiction. His protagonists Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade are considered to be the quintessential Private Detectives and have both been played by the late, great Humphrey Bogart. Many of Chandler’s novels such as Farewell my Lovely, Goodbye Sister and The Big Sleep are still considered important literary works.

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