Re: RARA-AVIS: Unfilmed but should be

Date: 11 Feb 2004

Jim B.,

Re your message below:

> Laying aside the opposition some may have to the
> notion of adapting stories
> to the screen, I would like to know what stories or
> novels of years past
> members of this group think should have been filmed
> or would make good
> movies now. In particular I'm thinking of more
> obscure properties that
> might likely be available for option rather than the
> latest John Grisham
> (not that anyone here would suggest Grisham!)

This one's pretty easy for me, because I just happened to be thinking about it. In fact, I alluded to it in the e-book I wrote for that Chandler course I mentioned a few posts back.

Raymond Chandler's PLAYBACK is the only currently unfilmed Marlowe novel. All of the others, even POODLE SPINGS which, for practical purposes, he didn't even write, have been filmed at least once.

Now no one would claim that PLAYBACK is Chandler's most shining moment as a crime novelist, but, after all, even bad Chandler is still better than, say, good Michael Avallone.

The most interesting thing about PLAYBACK being the only unfilmed Chandler novel, is that it's the only novel originally conceived as a movie project. Chandler originally wrote it as a screenplay for Universal in the late '40's. In its original version, it was set in Canada, and the guy who solved the crime was a Canadian police detective. Marlowe wasn't present. Ultimately, Universal decided not to go ahead with the film. Years later, Chandler salvaged the material by novelizing the script, changing the setting to LA, and more-or-less inserting Marlowe into the Canadian cop's role.

The unproduced screenplay was published as a book with a forward by Robert B. Parker some years ago. I've never read the original script, so I'm not sure how many changes Chandler made when he novelized it. But if it's essentially the same as the book, perhaps all you'd have to do is a slight revision, changing the setting, and inserting Marlowe (and maybe beefing up his role a bit; my understanding is that the cop doesn't come into the story 'til fairly late). That way you could share credit with Raymond Chandler! Collaborating with Chandler. Wouldn't THAT be something to write home about!


PS As with Mario, your wife has my deepest sympathies. I'll keep her in prayer.


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