RARA-AVIS: Re: Los Angeles

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 06 Sep 2001

  M Blumenthal asked:

>Could Marlowe, Bosch or Elvis Cole have lived elsewhere?

Hell, yeah. But they might not be quite the same Marlowe, Bosch or Elvis Cole. The question of LA's inherent connection to hard-boiled seems to rest on the shoulders of Chandler. Certainly, pre-Chandler figures like Hammett, Daly, Decolta or Latimer didn't need LA. And nobody has suggested they're not hard-boiled because their cases happen in the wrong town.

Of course, plenty of writers did use LA in the early days, but plenty of them also lived there. But after Chandler, it seems way too many of them simply couldn't imagine a private eye anywhere else. Particularly hacks.

Such was the force of his writing and the almost mythological world that he created, that had Chandler settled in Newark or Kansas City or Chicago or Vancouver, we may very well be asking what it is that makes those cities inherently hard-boiled.

The other factor, of course, is Hollywood. Why set the film 3000 miles away when you can film it a few blocks away? Interestingly, radio eyes didn't seem as LA-obsessed. But then television came along and more than made up for it.

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