CRIME MAGAZINE ARTICLES
Rap Sheet, CrimeReads, Punk Noir and more ...
Reading Chandler’s lyricism off the page was one thing. Hearing it echo through those movies, in the contexts and settings and American cadences of the day, was quite another. Film noir decided that the shamus in Shamus Dust would have to be an American, even though the setting is London, 1947. The truth is, I simply couldn’t hear my private eye in any other voice.
Well, isn’t there some magic to the best private eye mysteries? I mean, what are we all doing here if we don’t get the tingle from that spell? Agreed? Good. Now for the harder question of where the magic comes from.
Our subject is women and golden age crime and no question, the most striking and the smartest, the down-lowest and certainly the best dressed were the cast of choice female transgressors that Hollywood put on film in those yearswere …
We know the past is another country. The shock is that we become expatriates so soon. "The Big Sleep", after all, was published just about within living memory. Yet already we profit immensely from reading it with notes:
I’m just finished re-reading Raymond Chandler’s "The Lady in the Lake", fourth outing for his LA-wearied shamus Philip Marlowe, and was struck by two things. The first was noticing quite how many references there are to the world war going on in the story’s background
Washington Irving makes a new template for the first-person narrator who doesn’t belong. He’s the original un-American American. And yet. The stranger’s distance from an unaccustomed view doesn’t always lend enchantment.
Chandleresque? I can’t say I ever spelled out what it meant myself. I’d simply read and re-read the Marlowe novels since I was a teenager - not so long after they were written as I like to remember - until they felt like an element I swam in.
It seems like some small miracle to me now. How, out of a world gone sour, that remarkable generation went on to create film noir in its own image. Movies peopled with an unforgettable cast of slick grifters, seen-it-all survivors, racketeers, the opulent, the decent and the corrupt, whose moral compass - when they bring one along - is all their own work, men and women both.