|Philip Marlowe character|
|First appearance||Finger Man (short story)|
The Big Sleep (novel)
|Last appearance||The Pencil (short story)|
Poodle Springs (novel)
|Created by||Raymond Chandler|
|Portrayed by||Dick Powell (film, radio, TV) |
Humphrey Bogart (film)
Van Heflin (radio)
Robert Montgomery (film, radio)
George Montgomery (film)
Gerald Mohr (radio)
Philip Carey (TV)
James Garner (film)
Elliott Gould (film)
Robert Mitchum (film)
Ed Bishop (BBC radio)
Powers Boothe (TV)
Danny Glover (TV)
James Caan (HBO film)
Jason O'Mara (TV pilot)
Toby Stephens (BBC radio)
Philip Marlowe (//) is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler. Marlowe first appeared under that name in The Big Sleep, published in 1939. Chandler's early short stories, published in pulp magazines like Black Mask and Dime Detective, featured similar characters with names like "Carmady" and "John Dalmas".
Some of those short stories were later combined and expanded into novels featuring Marlowe, a process Chandler called "cannibalizing" but is more commonly known in publishing as a fixup. When the non-cannibalized stories were republished years later in the short story collection The Simple Art of Murder, Chandler changed the names of the protagonists to Philip Marlowe. His first two stories, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot" and "Smart-Aleck Kill" (with a detective named Mallory), were never altered in print but did join the others as Marlowe cases for the television series Philip Marlowe, Private Eye.
Marlowe's character is foremost within the genre of hardboiled crime fiction that originated in the 1920s, notably in Black Mask magazine, in which Dashiell Hammett's The Continental Op and Sam Spade first appeared.
Underneath the wisecracking, hard-drinking, tough private eye, Marlowe is quietly contemplative and philosophical and enjoys chess and poetry. While he is not afraid to risk physical harm, he does not dish out violence merely to settle scores. Morally upright, he is not fooled by the genre's usual femmes fatales, such as Carmen Sternwood in The Big Sleep.
Chandler's treatment of the detective novel exhibits an effort to develop the form. His first full-length book, The Big Sleep, was published when Chandler was 51; his last, Playback when he was 70. Seven novels were produced in the last two decades of his life. An eighth, Poodle Springs, was completed posthumously by Robert B. Parker and published years later.
Explaining the origin of Marlowe's character, Chandler commented that "Marlowe just grew out of the pulps. He was no one person." When creating the character, Chandler had originally intended to call him Mallory; his stories for the Black Mask magazine featured characters that are considered precursors to Marlowe. The emergence of Marlowe coincided with Chandler's transition from writing short stories to novels.
Chandler was said to have taken the name Marlowe from Marlowe House, to which he belonged during his time at Dulwich College. Marlowe House was named for Christopher Marlowe, a hard-drinking Elizabethan writer who graduated in philosophy and worked secretly for the government.
Philip Marlowe is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler in a series of novels including The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely and The Long Goodbye. Chandler is not consistent as to Marlowe's age. In The Big Sleep, set in 1936, Marlowe's age is given as 33, while in The Long Goodbye (set fourteen years later) Marlowe is 42. In a letter to D. J. Ibberson of April 19, 1951, Chandler noted among other things that Marlowe is 38 years old and was born in Santa Rosa, California. He had a couple of years at college and some experience as an investigator for an insurance company and the district attorney's office of Los Angeles County. He was fired from the D.A.'s office for insubordination (or as Marlowe put it, "talking back"). The D.A.'s chief investigator, Bernie Ohls, is a friend and former colleague and a source of information for Marlowe within law enforcement.
Marlowe is about seventy-three and a half inches (187 cm) tall and weighs about 190 pounds (86 kg). He wears colorful clothes, introducing himself to readers in The Big Sleep as wearing a powder blue suit with a dark blue shirt and patterned socks. He first lived at the Hobart Arms, on Franklin Avenue near North Kenmore Avenue (in The Big Sleep), but then moved to the Bristol Hotel, where he stayed for about ten years. By 1950 (in The Long Goodbye) he has rented a house on Yucca Avenue and continued at the same place in early 1952 in Playback, the last full-length Chandler Marlowe novel.
His office, originally on the seventh floor of an unnamed building in 1936, is at #615 on the sixth floor of the Cahuenga Building by March/April 1939 (the date of Farewell, My Lovely), which is on Hollywood Boulevard near Ivar. North Ivar Avenue is between North Cahuenga Boulevard to the west and Vine Street to the east. The office telephone number is Glenview 7537. Marlowe's office is modest and he doesn't have a secretary (unlike Sam Spade). He generally refuses to take divorce cases.
He drinks whiskey or brandy frequently and in relatively large quantities. For example, in The High Window, he gets out a bottle of Four Roses, and pours glasses for himself, for Det. Lt. Breeze and for Spangler. At other times he is drinking Old Forester, a Kentucky bourbon: "I hung up and fed myself a slug of Old Forester to brace my nerves for the interview. As I was inhaling it I heard her steps tripping along the corridor." (The Little Sister) However, in Playback he orders a double Gibson at a bar while tailing Betty Mayfield. Also, in The Long Goodbye, he and Terry Lennox drink Gimlets.
Marlowe is adept at using liquor to loosen peoples' tongues. An example is in The High Window, when Marlowe finally persuades the detective-lieutenant, whose "solid old face was lined and grey with fatigue", to take a drink and thereby loosen up and give out. "Breeze looked at me very steadily. Then he sighed. Then he picked the glass up and tasted it and sighed again and shook his head sideways with a half smile; the way a man does when you give him a drink and he needs it very badly and it is just right and the first swallow is like a peek into a cleaner, sunnier, brighter world."
He frequently drinks coffee. Eschewing the use of filters (see Farewell My Lovely), he uses a vacuum coffee maker (see The Long Goodbye, chapter 5). He takes his coffee with cream in the mornings but has it black at other times.
Typical of classic private eyes, Marlowe is the eternal bachelor in all of the novels. But in the opening paragraphs of Poodle Springs he has just married Linda Loring, the divorced daughter of the press tycoon Harlan Potter. He knows her from The Long Goodbye, where they spent one night together, and from Playback, where she, after one and a half years, surprisingly called him from Paris and proposed to him ("I'm asking you to marry me").
Influences and adaptations
- In the pilot episode of Bored to Death the main character Jonathan Ames (played by Jason Schwartzman) reads Farewell My Lovely and uses the name Philip Marlowe as a pseudonym.
- Marlowe has appeared in short stories and novels by writers other than Chandler, such as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration (1988).
- The central character in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective is crime novelist Philip E. Marlow, portrayed in the original TV version by Michael Gambon and in the later film version by Robert Downey, Jr.
- Marlowe is referenced in the lyrics to Burton Cummings' 1979 song "Dream of a Child" and Dire Straits' "Private Investigations".
- The two main characters of the film Radioactive Dreams are named Philip and Marlowe; Philip narrates it in a similar style as Chandler's novels.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Big Goodbye" (obviously in reference to The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye), a computer malfunction traps Jean-Luc Picard, Data, and Beverly Crusher in a 1940s Dixon Hill detective story holodeck program. Dixon Hill is an homage to such characters as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, among others.
- In Kamen Rider W, Sokichi Narumi gives Raito Sonozaki the name "Philip" due to his fondness of Philip Marlowe.
- Smart Philip (2003): Crime comedy inspired by Chandler's work with Tomáš Hanák as Philip Marlowe.
Works by Raymond Chandler
- "Finger Man" (1934), (short story): This story originally featured an unnamed narrator, identified as "Carmady" in subsequent stories, and later renamed Marlowe for book publication.
- "Goldfish" (1936), (short story): This story originally featured Carmady, later renamed Marlowe for book publication.
- "Red Wind" (1938), (short story): This story originally featured John Dalmas, later renamed Marlowe for book publication.
- "Trouble Is My Business" (1939) (short story): This story originally featured John Dalmas, later renamed Marlowe for book publication.
- The Big Sleep (1939)
- Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
- The High Window (1942)
- The Lady in the Lake (1943)
- The Little Sister (1949)
- The Simple Art of Murder (1950) (short story collection)
- The Long Goodbye (1953)
- Playback (1958)
- Poodle Springs (only the first four chapters were completed and then left unfinished at Chandler's death in 1959; completed by Robert B. Parker, 1989)
- "The Pencil" (AKA "Marlowe Takes On the Syndicate", "Wrong Pigeon", and "Philip Marlowe's Last Case") (1959), (short story): Chandler's last completed work about Marlowe, his first Marlowe short story in more than twenty years, and the first short story originally written about Marlowe.
Authorized works by other writers
- Ten Percent of Life (1987, ISBN 9-780671-634193), by Hiber Conteris. An unusually well-off Marlowe probes the 1956 "suicide" of a Hollywood literary agent, one of whose clients is Raymond Chandler.
- Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration (1988, ISBN 1-59687-847-9). A collection of 24 short stories, edited by Byron Preiss. The second edition (1999, ISBN 0-671-03890-7) included two additional stories.
- Poodle Springs (1989, ISBN 0-399-13482-4), by Robert B. Parker. An authorized completion of Chandler's unfinished last work.
- Perchance to Dream (1991, ISBN 0-399-13580-4), by Robert B. Parker. An authorized sequel to Chandler's The Big Sleep.
- The Black-Eyed Blonde (2014), by John Banville writing as "Benjamin Black," is an authorized sequel to The Long Goodbye. It has the same title as a Marlowe short story Benjamin M. Schutz contributed to the 1988 collection, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration.
- Raymond Chandler Speaking (1971), by Dorothy Gardener and Katherine Sorley Walker. New York: Books for Library Press.
- Only to Sleep (2018), by Lawrence Osborne, finds Marlowe in Mexico in 1988, investigating the “accidental” swimming death of a debt-ridden con man/developer.
- Time to Kill (1942) — (adaptation of The High Window with detective Michael Shayne substituting for Marlowe) Lloyd Nolan as Shayne.
- The Falcon Takes Over (1942) — (adaptation of Farewell My Lovely with detective "The Falcon" substituting for Marlowe) George Sanders as The Falcon.
- Murder, My Sweet (1944) — (adaptation of [and released in the UK as] Farewell My Lovely) Dick Powell as Marlowe.
- The Big Sleep (1946) — Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe.
- Lady in the Lake (1947) — Robert Montgomery as Marlowe.
- The Brasher Doubloon (1947) — (adaptation of [and released in the UK as] The High Window) George Montgomery as Marlowe.
- Marlowe (1969) — (adaptation of The Little Sister) James Garner as Marlowe. This became the partial inspiration for The Rockford Files, the other being the series Maverick.
- The Long Goodbye (1973) — Elliott Gould as Marlowe.
- Farewell My Lovely (1975) — Robert Mitchum as Marlowe.
- The Big Sleep (1978) — Robert Mitchum as Marlowe.
- Poodle Springs (1998) /TV) — James Caan as Marlowe.
Radio and television adaptations
- Lux Radio Theater, Murder My Sweet, adapted from the 1944 film, CBS Radio, June 11, 1945 (Dick Powell as Marlowe)
- The New Adventures Of Philip Marlowe, NBC Radio series, June 17, 1947 to September 9, 1947 (Van Heflin as Marlowe)
- Suspense, CBS radio, January 10, 1948 (cameo by series host Robert Montgomery in The Adventures of Sam Spade cross-over, "The Kandy Tooth")
- Lux Radio Theater, Lady in the Lake, adapted from the 1947 film, CBS Radio, February 9, 1948 (Robert Montgomery as Marlowe)
- Hollywood Star Time, Murder My Sweet, adapted from the 1944 film, CBS Radio, June 8, 1948 (Dick Powell as Marlowe)
- The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, CBS Radio series, September 26, 1948 to September 15, 1951 (Gerald Mohr as Marlowe)
- Climax!, The Long Goodbye, adapted from the novel, CBS Television, October 7, 1954 (Dick Powell as Marlowe)
- Philip Marlowe, ABC Television series, October 6, 1959 to March 29, 1960 (Philip Carey as Marlowe)
- The BBC Presents: Philip Marlowe, BBC Radio series, September 26, 1977 to September 23, 1988 (Ed Bishop as Marlowe)
- Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, HBO/London Weekend Television series, April 16, 1983 to May 14, 1983, April 27, 1986 to June 3, 1986 (Powers Boothe as Marlowe)
- Fallen Angels, "Red Wind", adapted from the short story, Showtime Television, November 26, 1995 (Danny Glover as Marlowe)
- Poodle Springs, adapted from the novel (a fragment completed by Robert B. Parker), HBO Television movie, July 25, 1998 (James Caan as Marlowe)
- Marlowe, a 2007 TV pilot (Jason O'Mara as Marlowe)
- In 2011 the BBC started a series of radio adaptations of all the Philip Marlowe novels under the heading Classic Chandler. Toby Stephens played Philip Marlowe throughout. The series started on February 5, 2011 on BBC Radio 4 with a 90-minute adaptation of The Big Sleep and continued with The Lady in the Lake (February 12, 2011), Farewell My Lovely (February 19, 2011) and a 60-minute version of Playback (February 26, 2011). The series continued later that year with 90-minute adaptations The Long Goodbye (October 1, 2011). The High Window (October 8, 2011), The Little Sister (October 15, 2011) and a 60-minute version of Poodle Springs (October 22, 2011).
Video game adaptations
- Crime fiction for an overview