RARA-AVIS: Re: Boothe, not Keach.

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 22 Sep 2010

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    James wrote:

    > Keach? Are you certain you aren't thinking of the Powers Boothe series?

    AAAARRRGGHHH!!!! Oh, gawd, yes. I apologize. Yes, I meant Powers Boothe. With Keach in the role, the Marlowe series would have been just that much worse.

    Serves me right for replying before my morning coffee.

    But speaking of lousy adaptations, did anyone who ever read Spillane ever really buy Keach as Hammer?

    and PatrickĀ wrote:

    > I'm pretty much convinced that a subversion of all of Chandler's themes and ideals was in fact Altman's conscious intention.

    Well, yeah. He never made any bones about it -- that's exactly what he planned. I'm sure Jim or someone can give you the exact quote. At least Altman displayed an understanding and awareness of -- and arguably, respect for -- Chandler, even if his intention was to subvert him.

    Which is very different from just cherry picking the parts you want to use, and completely ignoring the rest. Or pretending it wasn't there in the first place.

    Which is what some of those who have adapted Chandler seemed to have done. They completely missed the point, reducing Marlowe to a generic, formless, malleable private eye who can be forced to fit the mold of their own idea ideas. Thus we get Marlowe as The Falcon, as Mike Shayne, as a glib, horny man about town, as a doofus staring straight at the camera who looks more like a constipated insurance salesman than a private eye, as an aging American ex-pat waiting for Viagara to be invented in a swinging London also well past its prime, and as a wisenheimer pre-Rockford.

    And that's just in the films. The TV shows and radio show were generally even worse.

    The bruised romantic; the skeptical, cynical idealist; the knight in a game no longer meant for knights, the inherent slow burn sadness of the novels -- not to mention the poetry of Chandler's prose -- that Marlowe's been given short shrift in almost all the adaptations. Anyone who looks at Marlowe and just sees a trenchcoat, a fedora and a gun is missing the point.

    I'm not saying Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE is the best Marlowe adaptation out there, but I do wonder about the vitriol it inspires among those who give the other travesties a free pass. Particularly when you consider how misguided and just plain awful so many of them have been.

    Is it just that THE LONG GOODBYE and THE BIG SLEEP are the only Chandler flicks they've seen?

    Kevin Burton Smith Editor/Founder The Thrilling Detective Web Site
    "Wasting your time on the web since 1998."

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