RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Chandler's The Lady in the Lake

From: Alan K. Rode (
Date: 08 Nov 2007

"Ultimately, according to those who knew Spillane well,

even Spillane eventually admitted that Meeker's was the best depiction of his character."


Based on what Spillane told me about Meeker, the above statement is a stretch. Of course, Mickey talked to a lot of other people much more extensively than me and said a lot of different things about his work: I stake no claim to have cornered the market on Spillane's utterances during the last years of his life.


I discussed KISS ME DEADLY with Mickey once and he allowed that Meeker might have been, ".a fine actor, but it wasn't my character, because the movie wasn't my book."


Mickey had pretty sour-not bitter- he was never that way-recollections about what Hollywood did with his writing during the 1950's (and how people other than himself made the money) and specifically disliked what Bezzerides did with KMD. For the record, I thought Buzz did a helluva job.


After acknowledging his points, I persisted saying something like, "Well wasn't KMD a terrific film on its own merits?


He looked me in the eye and said, "It wasn't my book".






From: [mailto:] On Behalf Of jimdohertyjr Sent: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 8:39 PM To: Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Chandler's The Lady in the Lake



Re your comments below:

> Are you amazed that Spillane fans *might* like the
> film version of "Kiss Me, Deadly" or Philip K Dick
> fans *might* like "Bladerunner"?

Despite Robert Aldrich's assertion that he intended KISS ME DEADLY to be an "anti-Spillane" film, it was faithul to Spillane's vision in more respects than it was unfaithful. Meeker's version of Hammer, though something of a brute rather than a driven avenger, nevertheless brought out Hammer's determination, his skill at combat, his loyalty to friends, and his affection for Velda. Hammer may have been depicted in less flattering terms than Spillane intended, but he wasn't ransformed into an inconsequential nebbish like Gould's Marlowe was. Ultimately, according to those who knew Spillane well, even Spillane eventually admitted that Meeker's was the best depiction of his character.

So, no, it doesn't amaze me that Spillane fans might like Aldrich's version of KISS ME DEADLY, but I don't think the two cases are comparable.

I've never read DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP, so I can't speak to how Dick fans may respond to BLADE RUNNER.

> My take is this:
> "Chinatown" is a great film because it wasn't a
> derivative costume drama or a faux noir. It ain't
> neo-noir. It's a period piece that loses all the
> predictable tropes of hard-boiled and finds its own
> expression. Altman for once got it right in "The Long
> Goodbye." His rambling reinvention of the PI (with
> only the car as an anachronistic hint) replaced what
> could easily have become parody. And it works for me.
> I started the film expecting to hate it. Most Altman
> films don't have much of a shelf life. But "The Long
> Goodbye" cut itself off from the clutter of the novel
> and got to the heart. That is a rare adaptation.

I'm not sure what CHINATOWN has to do with this discussion, but no doubt that's because I never actually read what you write.

As for Altman, he really DID intend to make an anti-Chandler picture and succeeded far better than Aldrich did in making an anti-Spillane picture. And it's precisely because he succeeded so well that I so thoroughly dislike the film.



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