Raymond Chandler's Movies
Movies Versions of Chandler's Novels
The Falcon Takes Over
The first screen version of a Chandler novel, The Falcon Takes Over took the story of Farewell, My Lovely and shoehorned it into RKO's Falcon series, which starred George Sanders as a playboy detective who solves crimes in his spare time.
Time to Kill
20th Century Fox, 1942
Time to Kill was another example of a studio's buying the rights to one of Chandler's novels--The High Window, in this case--and adapting the story to fit an existing detective movie series. Lloyd Nolan stars as Michael Shayne, a character originally created by the novelist Brett Halliday.
Murder, My Sweet
RKO Pictures released its second version of Farewell, My Lovely in 1945. It was the first major motion picture release of a Chandler story and the first appearance of detective Philip Marlowe on the silver screen. Dick Powell, who until then had been known primarily as the romantic lead in musical comedies, took the opportunity to recast his image as a tough guy. The film's name was changed to Murder, My Sweet at the last minute based on polling that showed most movie goers would have expected another musical comedy if released under Chandler's original title.
The Big Sleep
Warner Brothers, 1946
Perhaps the best known movie version of a Chandler novel, Warner Brothers' The Big Sleep starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was directed by Howard Hawks, and had a screenplay written in part by William Faulkner. Though released to mixed reviews, it is now considered one of the classics of film noir.
Lady in the Lake
Director and star Robert Montgomery chose to make his adaptation of The Lady in the Lake using the experimental "subjective camera" technique, in which almost the entire movie was shot as seen through the eyes of Philip Marlowe. Thus, Marlowe was visible only when he passed by a mirror, opponents threw punches directly at the camera, and women presented their kisses toward the lens, too. Chandler thought it a cheap gimmick, as did many reviewers.
The Brasher Doubloon
20th Century Fox, 1947
This movie version uses the original title of Chandler's novel The High Window, which he had changed at the suggestion of his publisher. George Montgomery stars as Philip Marlowe as he takes on a case of a missing gold dubloon and soon uncovers murder.
James Garner starred in this adaptation of The Little Sister, which includes an appearance by martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who trashes Marlowe's office.
The Long Goodbye
United Artists, 1973
Director Robert Altman was the first major director since Howard Hawks in the 1940s to tackle a Philip Marlowe, and he transported Chandler's detective story into early 1970s Los Angeles. Eliot Gould was cast as a rumpled, bedraggled Marlowe, and the story is complete with hippies and topless girls dancing on apartment balconies. The film received a largely negative recption, but Altman fans have praised it as a creative "neo noir" parody of the hardboiled detective genre.
Farewell, My Lovely
AVCO Embassy, 1975
Director Dick Richards cast Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe in his version of Farewell, My Lovely and made his film a throwback to the old 1940s noir days. The movie stays relatively true to Chandler's original plot of Marlowe's helping a huge thug named Moose Malloy find his old flame. A young Sylvester Stallone has a bit part as a thug.
The Big Sleep
United Artists, 1978
Robert Mitchum was back as Philip Marlowe in 1978, but this time Michal Winner was the writer and director. Winner chose to set the story in modern day England, though the characters and plot remain largely the same as in Chandler's novel.
Movies Written by Chandler
In the summer of 1943, Raymond Chandler signed a contract with Paramount Pictures to write screenplays for $750 a week. In his first effort writing, he was teamed with director Billy Wilder to write the screen adaptation of James M. Cain's hardboiled thriller,Double Indemnity, which tells the tale of an insurance man who plots the murder of his mistress's husband. He and Wilder were nominated for an Academy Award for the effort.
And Now Tomorrow
For his second screenwriting effort, Chandler collaborated with Frank Partos on this Alan Ladd and Loretta Young vehicle.
Chandler polished the dialog and earned his third screen credit for this thriller starring Joel McCrea and Gail Russell and produced by John Houseman.
The Blue Dahlia
The Blue Dahlia was Chandler's first original screenplay. Starring Alan Ladd, it tells the story of a soldier trying to track down the murderer of his estranged wife. The movie was a critical and box-office success and earned Chandler his second Academy Award nomination for screenwriting.
Strangers on a Train
Warner Brothers, 1951
Chandler returned one last time to screenwriting to adapt Patricia Highsmith's novel Strangers on a Train for the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. It is the story of two men who meet on a train and become embroiled in a plot to kill each others' wives.