It ain’t no secret, I guess.
I love bad girls.
( I call ’em razor girls )
I can’t help myself.
I’ve always been
with the bad attitude,
with the foul mouth,
wearing the peek-a-boo
ratty torn t-shirt,
the one that was always ready
to have a loud and gruesome
public fight about something —
—- that attracted my attention first.
And if she had red hair, then:
” Outta the way fellas, she’s the one. ”
The one that would
pour a perfectly good
ice cold cherry Slurpee
down into your pants pocket,
then laugh and point at you,
and tell everyone who
would listen about how
she made you wet yourself.
after she stole your heart —
— and your car,
after she ruined your grades —
— and your whole reputation,
after she trashed your locker —
— and your front lawn,
after she scratched all your records —
after she mangled all of
your personal relationships,
— and how well some of
your body parts worked,
after she ran off with your
one-time-best friend —
— and your teacher,
— and on your knee cap,
after she tore down and
criticized everything that
you thought you were,
and wanted to be —
— and invited seven of
to your birthday party
to beat the hell out of you …….
— you finally would come to realize —
It seems a shame, really.
But, the good part is,
you can see her anytime
you want .
On the cover of
vintage crime magazines.
— there she is, alright.
It makes me wonder
about that whole
“crime doesn’t pay thing”,
sometimes, ya know ?
Stacey always did say
that you were just
a big ole mama’s boy.
As if you didn’t know already.
These mags were most
popular between 1930
and 1960 —
And featured articles written
by some really good writers
early in their careers —
like Dashiell Hammett,
and Jim Thompson.
My interest was always
in the cover art.
Depending on the magazine
you might have a photo
on the cover,
with salacious headlines
that had little,
to do with the cover,
— or even the content inside–
Ah well —
who cared about the
sketchy print inside–
as long as the
sketchy sketch on the cover
sparked your imagination.
And hoo boy,
did it ever.
Great illustrators like:
and Norman Saunders
not only painted covers
for magazines in this genre,
but to a large extent,
influenced what would appear
on the covers
in the 1930’s and 1940’s….
—- if the publisher really
wanted them to sell, that is.
The magazines had titles like :
True Crime Detective,
Detective and Police,
Front Page Detective,
I guess you get the picture.
By the height of the 1950’s,
there were literally hundreds
of titles to choose from.
no longer were they simply
a nominally benign
peek into the dark,
or a mildly guilty pleasure —
And while a little excess
can seem like ecstasy,
too much can get —
…. who said
I was a philosopher, anyway?
….. when I was about 8,
my Uncle Gerry bought me
the whole set of Hardy Boys
I think he was trying to
divert my attention from
Sgt. Rock comic books…….
Well, anyway, despite my
NOT giving up Sgt. Rock,
I was definitely hooked on those books.
And there was a mess o ’em, too.
Of course, my sister had a
couple of the Nancy Drew books, ……
….. but me- as a kid –
knew perfectly well that nobody
could go around solving murders
wearing gingham party dresses,
and ankle socks.
It’s just not practical, you know?
Naah… the Hardy Boys-
now, they were detectives.
Them boys had the perfect parents, too…..
……. they never got punished or yelled at.
Boy, they had it cushy…
just goin’ around solving mysteries ,
…when they weren’t out hitting
home runs or getting A’s in school.
Detecting was one of those exciting
things you could do in your spare time, ya know.
As I got older, I started reading
Raymond Chandler, Ellery Queen,
Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle…..
..and then onto Robert B. Parker,
…… Agatha Christie, and PD James.
Nobody wrote a hard boiled
detective story like Chandler…
Nobody could string two completely
different ideas together in one paragraph..
……. and make it come out as one like Chandler.
Nobody could describe a dame quite like Chandler.
Nobody could put that
down on paper like Chandler:
” …. the illuminated dial showed 10:56… as nearly as I could focus on it. The call had come at 10:08 — Marriott had talked for maybe two minutes. Another four had got us out of the house. Time passes very slowly when you’re actually doing something. I mean, you can go through a lot of movements in very few minutes. Is that what I mean? Okay, better men have meant less. ”
( from “Farewell My Lovely“)
Even a thing as simple as being sapped
became an experience with Chandler…
” …. a pool of darkness opened at my feet, and was far, far, deeper than the blackest night. I dived into it. It had no bottom . ”
( from “Farewell My Lovely“)
So, naturally, I was always interested
in movies featuring Chandler’s main protagonist…
….. an anachronistic, antagonistic,
sarcastic, hardbitten character named Philip Marlowe.
Jeez… I think that description reminds me of someone.
although, I have to admit….
I found the Hollywood tendency
to let Marlowe get the girl at the end irritating —
Marlowe isn’t supposed to get the girl —
….. he’s supposed to get the bad guy,
and often the girl WAS the bad guy.
they quite inevitably changed
the screenplay around, to take
advantage of that whole Bogey-Bacall thing….
and Lo and Behold, now the bad girl’s
a good girl, and the plot ends up
making no real sense at all.
Bah… just a lot of Hollywood nonsense.
…… an amalgam of a plot based
on several Chandler short stories-
—but mostly on “Farewell My Lovely” –
Dick Powell as a sometimes-too-clever-
… only mildly-tough tough guy…
Mike Mazurki made one menacing,
but darkly humorous, bad guy —
…. and Claire Trevor one very dirty little razor girl.
—made in 1947, with very limited funds–
“Lady in the Lake“, was done in an interesting way —
…… many of the scenes were shot as they would have been viewed from the protagonists own eyes…..
Point of View- or P.O.V. as they call it today.
…….. go figure, huh? )
It is in this scene —
about 1/3 of the way in,
when you first glimpse our hero —
…… (holding his hat ) in the mirror.
Then , they slickly switch perspectives —
……. to the more conventional one
for the remainder of the pic.
You hardly notice the change — very cool.
Critics hated it.
Again, though, Hollywood couldn’t help mangling the story,
…….. until it made it look like 2+2 equaled 7.
with a horrible 60’s hipster production
starring Elliott Gould called “The Long Goodbye”….
Now, get this straight, Hollywood –
Philip Marlowe was no slob,
……………. and he wouldn’t own no damned cat.
Dumb Hollyweird fusters.
They made Marlowe nothing more
than a loser with a bad attitude.
I absolutely detest that movie.
And I hate Ellott Gould for doing it.
I liked this movie,
but then, probably only
because I like James Garner.
“Marlowe” was the impetus to Garner
getting a TV detective series of his own —
“The Rockford Files”,
… which I always liked, too, in which he played
a private down-on-the-heels gumshoe
very much like Philip Marlowe.
Speaking of TV……
Marlowe was played by an assortment
of actors in a variety of shows,
but I think the guy who best
captured the spirit of Chandler’s
anti-hero on TV was Powers Boothe,
in the 80’s HBO series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye.
Here, in this series,
you got all the nuances of Chandler —
The malevolence of corrupt officials,
The arrogance of the rich and powerful,
The 99% boredom/1% terror nature of police work,
The tenuous balance of good and bad qualities that define a person of character….
The style, panache, and prurience of post-war era Los Angeles …….
This series was produced in cooperation with the BBC, and it shows.
As a matter of fact, the Brits seem to have a special affinity for understanding Chandler.
It doesnt matter that it’s set not
in 50’s Los Angeles, but in 70’s London — nope.
It’s that good.
Candy Clark looks good enough to eat….
Vera Miles is catty and scheming……..
……… and Robert Mitchum is
as good as Robert Mitchum ever got.
Which is pretty much as strong as death.
Mean, tough, sharp……
He utters the most famous words of Chandler’s “Big Sleep”
in that gravelly voice like he was born to say them ………..
“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, …… you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. “
Every time I hear it, it runs shivers up my spine.
And that’s what Chandler was going for.
…….. and with absolutely no hesitation
in his manner or intonation.
You believed it.
And throwing Candy Clark out of bed
couldn’t have been easy, even acting.