Red WindSaturday, September 02, 2006
I have managed to see all but one of the movies featuring Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. The one that I missed was the 1947 Brasher Doubloon with George Montgomery. Since I am a Raymond Chandler fan I even liked Robert Altman's 1973 The Long Goodbye with Elliot Gould. Gould seems to be stoned throughout. I am not sure if Raymond Chandler was ever satisfied with the actors that played his private detective in movies. I will never forget seeing a special TV interview with John Le Carré who when asked about Sir Alec Guinness playing George Smiley he answered something like this, "Alec, has taken Smiley away from me. I cannot write about Smiley without seeing Alec Guinness." By all accounts, no actor has ever gotten to the core, either in performance or in looks, to what Chandler fans expect. I thought that Robert Mitchum was close in the 1975 Farewell My Lovely but then I was distracted by my favourite actress, Charlotte Rampling so I didn't notice that Mitchum seemed a bit too old for the part.
In 1995 I had the opportunity to photograph Canadian artist Alex Colville. I asked him about my favourite painting, Pacific, 1967. I wanted to know why the painting has a ruler on the table. Colvile answered, "That was my mother's milliner's table."
I have only recently realized that in Pacific Colville depicts the perfect Philip Marlowe even if we only see him from behind. Even though most of us know that Marlowe usually packed a Luger.
Try looking at Pacific while listening to Pat Metheny's Red Wind in the ultimate Raymond Chandler jazz CD, Charlie Haden Quartet West - In Angel City. Any CD that quotes a long passage from Chandler's The Little Sister has to have something going for it. This CD has it in spades. Verve 837 031-2