Raymond Chandler: True Noir

“Yet the darkest of Chandler now appears clean-cut. Chandler evoked the spirit of noir through mood-setting and language, not cheap graphic gore. Now work that is hailed as ‘dark’ often seems close to putrid, almost unreadable…”
– Mick Hume, ‘Watching the Detectives’, AIR Magazine, March 2010, p18.

The High Window - Raymond Chandler

Last Friday marked the 50th anniversary of Raymond Chandler’s death.  The passing of the man who wrote detective stories with poetic prose like this,  “The night was all around, soft and quiet. The white moonlight was cold and clear, like the justice we dream of but don’t find”, from The High Window (1942).

Today most noir fiction reads like Spillane on crack.  Many so-called noir writers are misappropriating noir by depicting violence, including sexual violence, so graphically you wonder who is the real psychopath.

I am reminded of these lines in Chandler’s Playback, where Marlowe narrates: “I picked a paperback off the table and made a pretense of reading it. It was about some private eye whose idea of a hot scene was a dead naked woman hanging from the shower rail with the marks of torture on her… I threw the paperback into the wastebasket, not having a garbage can handy at the moment.”

3 thoughts on “Raymond Chandler: True Noir”

  1. Chandler of course was a icon, and this remembrance on the occasion of his anniversary puts everything in the proper perspective. Few even in noir’s glory days could sit at the same table with him, much less the “Spillane on crack” writers that masquerade as holders of the noir torch. DOUBLE INDEMNITY and THE BIG SLEEP are his absolute masterpieces, but the character of Phillip Marlowe is his most extradinary legacy. A literary titan.

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  2. Hi! Tony,
    I must admit that Dashiell Hammett, is my favorite mystery writer, but I like (Raymond) Chandler, too!

    Tony said,”Today most noir fiction reads like Spillane on crack. Many so-called noir writers are misappropriating noir by depicting violence, including sexual violence, so graphically you wonder who is the real psychopath.”

    Ha! I wonder if the same thing can be said about today films plots or writers that write the scripts for films that are considered neo-noir. 😕

    By the way, the cover of Raymond Chandler’s book The High Window remind me of actor William Bendix,(Stauffer alias Fred Foss) (The man in the white suit) being pushed out of the window in the 1946 film noir Dark Corner by actor Clifton Webb…(Hardy Cathcart)

    What is surprising to me about the film “The Dark Corner” is that actress Lucille Ball,(Kathleen Stewart) received top billing, but yet the film focused on actor Mark Steven (Bradford Galt) whom received fourth billing in the film.

    Once again, thanks for sharing!
    DeeDee 😉

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