Chandlerisms For Dull Minds
“Hollywood is wonderful. Anyone who doesn’t like it is either crazy or sober.”
“Alcohol is like love,” he said. “The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.” – The Long Goodbye (1954)
Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an American novelist and screenwriter.
In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”, was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine.
His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published just seven full novels during his lifetime (though an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker).
“It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.” – opening paragraph, chapter 1 The Big Sleep (1939)
The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noir directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of Raymond Chandler’s 1939 novel of the same name. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as the female lead in a film about the “process of a criminal investigation, not its results.” William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman co-wrote the screenplay.
“I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter evenings. But don’t waste your time trying to cross-examine me.” – The Big Sleep (1939)
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” – Farewell My Lovely (1940)
“A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.” – Farewell My Lovely (1940)
“A check girl in peach-bloom Chinese pajamas came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins.” – The High Window (1942)
“I had a funny feeling as I saw the house disappear, as though I had written a poem and it was very good and I had lost it and would never remember it again.” – The High Window (1942)
“Love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective’s struggle to solve the problem.” – Casual Notes on the Mystery Novel (essay, 1949)
“Undoubtedly the stories about them [hard-boiled detectives] had a fantastic element. Such things happened, but not so rapidly, nor to so close-knit a group of people, nor within so narrow a frame of logic. This was inevitable because the demand was for constant action; if you stopped to think you were lost. When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand” – The Simple Art of Murder (1950)
“She opened her mouth like a firebucket and laughed. That terminated my interest in her. I couldn’t hear the laugh but the hole in her face when she unzippered her teeth was all I needed.” – The Long Goodbye (1954)
“Everything written with vitality expresses that vitality: there are no dull subjects, only dull minds.”