RARA-AVIS: Re: America's Top Sleuths

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 24 Jul 2006

On Jul 22, 2006, at 3:22 AM, rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com wrote:

> Even given that it's a TV/movie list, how the *heck* did Philip
> Marlowe not make the list?

Time, I guess. As you said, this is television and film, not literature, so let's assume they're aiming at an audience beyond this list, that may not possess our vast knowledge or geeky fanboy backgrounds or longer attention spans (or dashing good looks).

Sadly, there hasn't been a good new portrayal (or at least a widely seen good new portrayal) of Marlowe on film or American television for more than thirty years.

The same could be said of Sam Spade, of course, but John Huston's THE MALTESE FALCON is an undisputed cinematic and cultural icon whereas THE BIG SLEEP is by comparison just a Bogart movie. And MURDER, MY SWEET, while a far, far better hard-boiled film than SLEEP, is even less known.

As for the most recent Marlowes,...

James Caan in POODLE SPRINGS? Pass. A wasted opportunity, and even Parker's much-disliked (by some) novel was better than Stoppard's script.

Danny Glower in RED WIND as part of FALLEN ANGELS (did anyone even ever see that?)?

Powers Boothe? The Adam West of P.I. portrayals? Pass. Quickly, please....

So we're left with Mitchum and --arguably -- Gould over thirty years ago. Debate their relative merits, if you will, but at least people SAW those.

Doesn't mean I wouldn't love Marlowe to be there (he is, after all, THE private eye) but as far as film and television go, he's just not had the impact some of the others -- obviously inspired and influenced by him -- have.

Although some of those choices are just as perplexing; in this case the inclusions are more cringe-worthy at times than the omissions. Let's just be grateful DIAGNOSIS MURDER or SIMON & SIMON didn't make the cut (MAGNUM is bad enough).

So here's a thought.... When the dust is settled over the SLEUTH list, we should do air our own special on Film and Television's Top 25 Hard-boiled Sleuths right here on the Rara-Avis Network.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Jul 2006 EDT