Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of mystery writer Raymond Chandler.  Besides his books, he is most often thought of in terms of some classic movies - "Strangers On A Train", "Double Indemnity", and any film that gave us new incarnations of Philip Marlowe.  (One of them, played by Dick Powell, could be from the Borderlands.  Powell played Marlowe in "Murder, My Sweet" and in the 'Climax!' episode "The Long Goodbye".)

But he made his mark in television as well, living long enough to see his work on the small screen.  (He died at the age of 70 in 1959.)

The following anthology series adapted his works:
  • 'Fallen Angels'
  • 'Storyboard'
  • 'TV de Vanguarda'
  • 'Climax'
  • 'Schlitz Playhouse'
  • 'Lux Video Theatre'
  • 'Studio One In Hollywood'
  • 'Nash Airflyte Theatre'
  • 'Robert Montgomery Presents'
  • 'The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse'
Recastaways of Chandler's gumshoe Philip Marlowe can be counted among several of those entries listed above.  (The "Red Wind" episode of 'Fallen Angels' takes place in the TV dimension of Black Toobworld since Marlowe was played by Danny Glover.)  

And there were two TV series about Marlowe as well.  (Philip Carey's televersion from 1959 is the official portrayal for Toobworld.)

There were TV movies based on his work, including other entries for Marlowe, "Marlowe" and "Poodle Springs".  There was an updated version of his screenplay for "Double Indemnity" (which I admit to liking a lot, despite comparisons to the superb original.)  And for the TV dimension of German Toobworld (that Earth Prime-Time which was conquered by the Nazis), there was an adaptation of his short story "I'll Be Waiting" - "Ich werde warten".  

Another Chandler story to be found in an alternate dimension would be the adaptation of his screenplay for "Strangers On A Train".  "Once You Meet A Stranger" takes place in Distaff Toobworld, in which Guy Haines is now Sheila Haines and twisted Bruno Antony becomes Margo Anthony.
And that 'TV de Vanguarda' mentioned above presented "Pacto Sinistro", which was a Brazilian adaptation of that same Hitchcock movie.  Being in Portuguese, that alternate Toobworld must have been created when Portugal never surrendered control of the high seas.

Raymond Chandler even wrote an episode for the classic private eye show '77 Sunset Strip' called "One False Step", which was broadcast the year before he passed away.

But my favorite of all isn't an adaptation.  It's basically a staged reading... in Lou Grant's office on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'.

I wrote about it here when I marked the 120th anniversary of his birth.

So here's to the memory of Raymond Chandler, one of the top five writers ever from the United States!  

BCnU, Kid!


Mike Doran said...

Actually, Raymond Chandler didn't write that 77 Sunset Strip episode.
It was just another adaptation (read knockoff) of Strangers On A Train.

Warners was making so many TV shows at that time (at a rate of 35-40 episodes a year for each one) that they had no compunction of freely reusing any properties that they might have retained remake rights to.
To stay within "the rules", it was necessary to give onscreen credit to anyone who had contributed to the original Strangers screenplay - in this case, not only Chandler, but Czenzi Ormonde (who did Hitchcock's rewrite), Whitfield Cook (who first scouted out the story for Hitchcock), and even Patricia Highsmith (who wrote the original novel - and reportedly didn't much like any of the versions that resulted).

This was, as I said, common practice at Warner Bros TV; the year after this show aired, they raided their Hitchcock collection to make a tab version of Dial 'M' For Murder for 77SS (Richard Long was the villain in this one as well).

Anyway, that's the whole story, for whatever it might be worth.

Toby O'B said...

Thanks for the info, Mike, and thanks for checking in!

I never heard this story, but I knew of WB's cheap ways when it came to crediting writers. The only way 'Maverick' could get on the air was if Roy Huggins based it on a previous work owned by the studio so they wouldn't have to pay him royalties as the creator. So he pulled out some non-fiction book on which he based the War of the Silver Kings episode.....