Raymond Chandler

 

Playback

(Screenplay)

 

Well, I’m a fan, and I saw this movie script as a hardback languishing in a second-hand book bin. It’s got several of his calling cards: troubled gorgeous female love interest; laconic detective (although this time a cop); a bad guy who isn’t all bad. You can see it’s written for film: the climax, for example, revolves around a suspenseful air/sea chase that – being that this is merely a script – is entirely left to our imagination.

 

I think it could have made an OK film, perhaps a good one with the right cast and director. As a read understandably it’s in a different league to his dedicated novels. Where he really soars in a novel though is in his descriptions - the way he sets a mood, or describes a character or scene, but for a film this is largely up to the skills of the crew. As a fan I suppose I was disappointed – not because the script was bad, but because that vehicle largely suppresses the distinctive aspects of what I enjoy in reading Chandler.

 

By the way, one thing that did stand out as a cultural change was the way that pashing a girl without her consent was seen as romantic (as opposed to sexual harassment). Also amusing that some minor characters are denigrated because they only give attention to the heroine because she’s a babe, yet the hero’s affection is supposed to be authentic and deep the moment he spies her across a crowded room. Movie conventions – there’s so little time, what can you do?

 

March 07