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

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Nov 2007


Re your comment on Chandler's quote below:

"'If being in revolt against a corrupt society consitutes being immature, then Philip Marlowe is extremely immature. If seeing dirt where there is dirt constitutes an inadequate social adjustment, then Philip Marlowe has inadequate social adjustment. Of course Marlowe is a failure and he knows it. He's a failure because he hasn't any money. A man who without any physical handicaps cannot make a decent living is always a failure and usually a moral failure. But a lot of very good men have been failures because their particular talents did not suit their time and place.'

"Loser, failure, hardly seem incompatible to me. In fact, my thesaurus lists them both as synonyms for
'unsuccesful person.'"

You're really stretching things if you mean to suggest that this constitutes agreement with Altman's assessment of Marlowe as "a loser, not the fake winner Chandler made of him, but a loser all the way."

Chandler stateS, in the first phrase, that Marlowe is a loser if, and only if, "revolt against a corrupt socety constitutes being immature."

Clearly, though, Chander does NOT think that resisting corruption is immature. Further, as he makes clear, Marlowe is a "failure" in the financial sense by delibarate choice, by his own stubborn insistence on living life on his own terms.

Consequently, he is NOT a failure in Chandler's eyes, but someone to be admired, someone, perhaps living in a time he's not really fit for, but still living by his own code and his own inviolable sense of right and wrong.

That's not the way he was depicted in Altman's film.


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