RARA-AVIS: RE: the voice of hardboiled

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@home.com)
Date: 15 Aug 2001

In all the talk about the actor who best embodied Marlowe, there's one thing that seems to have been overlooked. Odd, since the title of the string is "the voice" of hardboiled. Maybe Cary Grant looked like Marlowe. And those who thought he wasn't tough enough should take a gander at "Mr. Lucky." But Grant spoke with a modified (exaggerated?) Cockney accent. Even the Anglophile Chandler may have found that off-putting. It would be as out of place as Marlowe opening up an office in London (see the silly Michael Winner "Big Sleep"). The radio Marlowe
(Gerald Mohr, not Van Heflin) did a pretty good vocal version, though the humorless stories with their "dirty city that I love" overripe monologues, not to mention product plugs, weren't even close approximations of Chandler's novelettes.

As far as physical appearance, I'd have to say that Mitchum and James Garner came closest to the Chandler description, though Powell isn't far off. And all three "sounded" like Marlowe, which Bogart, with his lisp and cackle laugh, didn't.

About Powers Boothe being the best Marlowe, gee whiz. If some of you think Mitchum was too slow, Boothe looks to me like he's got a permanent
"Duh" balloon over his head as he drags himself from scene to scene, talking in late night fm dj monotone. Give this man a shot of coffee and quick.

Dick Lochte

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