After several adaptations by RKO Pictures of Raymond Chandler’s work that barely resembled the legendary writer’s source material, producer Adrian Scott finally managed to create a faithful one that captured the author’s wit and charm while also shaving down the book’s convoluted plot into something coherent. 1945’s Murder, My Sweet is based on Farewell, My Lovely (1940), the second Philip Marlowe mystery. I guess the marketing folks at RKO thought “Sweet” was a more effective pet name than “Lovely.” The film is certainly one of the most clearest versions of Chandler’s vision, even if its noble private eye yarn would later feel old-hat in the world of noir.
LADY IN THE LAKE (1947)
Raymond Chandler’s Lady in the Lake is my third favorite Philip Marlowe novel. The book’s plot is pleasantly complicated even for Chandler, but one of the main reasons I love it is that it takes Marlowe out of L.A. and into the mountains – the last place you’d find a hard-boiled private dick. Chandler’s own screenplay for a Lady in the Lake adaptation was never used. Instead, Robert Montgomery directed and starred in a version written by Steve Fischer, who penned a ton of westerns as well as Bogart’s Dead Reckoning. Chandler himself hated the adaptation, but I really like it. It’s tough and pulpy with a subtle romantic thread running throughout. For once, it’s nice to see Marlowe fall in love (even if Chandler’s creation preferred drinking alone).