Re: RARA-AVIS: Poodle Springs, Age, Casting

Date: 22 May 2002


Re your comment below:

> Jim has made some good points on this subject,
> but I read the book long before I saw the
> movie--as a matter of fact, I just saw the movie
> for the first time about a month or six weeks
> ago-- but I had the sense of an aging Marlowe and
> if not aging, at least world weary. I don't
> remember anyone saying his age in the book, but
> even if Parker had--

Marlowe was world weary as early as THE BIG SLEEP, in which he says he is 33 (which became 37 in the movie, in which he was played by 46-year-old Humphrey Bogart). Recall that long philosophical meditation on death at the end of the book. His world weariness is a function of his career, and all the death and heartbreak it makes him witness to, not his age per se.

He states his age as being in his early '40s (I think it was 42) in THE LONG GOODBYE. I think Linda describes herself as being 36. PLAYBACK, though it appears five years later, takes place just a few months later (I believe Marlowe give his age again and it's the same as it was in GOODBYE), and ends with a lead-in for POODLE SPRINGS which takes place immediately after the events in PLAYBACK.
> Forty something was a hell of a lot older than
> today, as was fifty something. They were much
> older ages than now.

A year after PLAYBACK came out, and a year after Chandler started the uncompleted POODLE SPRINGS, JFK at 43 and Richard Nixon at 46 were both regarded as
"young men" to be competing for the White House.

There's a scene in SOUTH PACIFIC, the film version of which came out at roughly the same time as PLAYBACK, in which a 50 year old Navy captain berates a 20-year-old officer for describing a man in his 40s as being middle-aged.

People in the 40s probably weren't considered as
"young" as they are now (and that's largely a function of baby boomers suddenly starting to reach their 40s), but they weren't considered over-the-hill.

And while we're on the subject of actors who can play an "aging Marlowe," I've heard it said (and have said it myself on occasion) that Robert Mitchum in his prime would've been great. And he was damned good as an aging Marlowe in the remake of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY.


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