Thursday, December 03, 2015

Philip Marlowe, Private Eye


If Sam Spade is the template for the Hardboiled Private Eye, Philip Marlowe is hands down the archetype off of whom all others have been spun. Adapted multiple times throughout the ages in radio, film and television and even carried on by other authors after Chandler's death (with widely varying degrees of success), Marlowe is the one to whom most people look when they think of the tough-as-nails, woman-wooing private dick. 

There were other hardboiled PIs between Spade and Marlowe, to be sure. Robert E. Howard even tried his hand at the genre more than once. But none have had the kind of lasting archetypal influence that Chandler's detective has. Marlowe first came on the scene in 1939's The Big Sleep, which was adapted into film many times, the most notable of which was the 1946 adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart--who, you'll recall, also played Sam Spade. A number of other adventures followed, both short and novel-length, with such notable entries as Farewell, My Lovely and The Long Goodbye. The character was eventually adapted for the very first (and highly acclaimed) HBO dramatic series: Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, in the late 1990s, starring Powers Boothe as the titular detective. Alas, DVD copies of this series are rare and hard to come by, but are highly recommended.

If you're interested in the best of the best when it comes to detective fiction, you could do far worse than checking out the works of Raymond Chandler.

I know I've spent a lot of time on the Hardboiled P.I. recently. I've developed something of a love and passion for this genre. Next time, I'll look at the roots of some of the other archetypes you can find in Amazing Adventures.

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