Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rainy Day Matinee

Every so often I like to go through one of the unpacked boxes I have stacked in a closet. The one I chose yesterday had packs of old receipts, several sweaters, and a rusted spatula. It was that kind of a box. At the bottom was a typewritten manuscript.

Years ago, when a friend and I were bored at work, we wrote a 300-page Raymond Chandler parody. I’d write a page or two, then he’d write a page, and on and on. Since I lost touch with Gordon ages ago, I’ll say the best pages are mine. And there are precious few of those.

Flipping through it, I noticed most of the sustained hilarity has evaporated over time. Just as a sample:

The night air was as cold as a puppy’s nose. It was then Jonathan saw the sliding door was open, and open wide. As wide as the disparity between tap shoes and ballet slippers.


Ma’am?” the woman in white greeted her.
“I’m here to see McPherson.”
“Your trouble ma’am, molar, front, bicuspid?”
“Just tell him,” Patsy lifted her diaphanous black veil, “Everything aches.”

[and later]

She felt Blackie Mcpherson’s eyes lock on her ankles, sweep up to her thighs, linger on her shoulders, and come to rest on her incisors.
“ I was sorry to hear about your father,” he purred. “The work I did on his lower plate is one of the hallmarks of my career. A fine man with outstanding gums.”

I can and have read Chandler over and over. But every film adaptation save one has been a major disappointment. And the best is no longer in circulation – 1975’s Farewell My Lovely. Here’s the only clear clip I could find:

Farewell My Lovely

The alcoholic dancehall floozie was played by the brilliant Sylvia Miles. And if we could watch the whole scene, she would pat the bottle of rye Marlow brought as a bribe and say, “This goes down easy with me.”

What’s right about this film is everything – cinematography, music, palette, casting, dialogue. But most of all, Robert Mitchum; the laconic, ironic delivery, and his once beautiful face melting away like candlewax before our eyes. And they were so right to shoot the noir in color. Nothing looks as sinister as dying lawn, bungalow dry rot, and a relentless sun.


  1. Yes, I can sea there were no editors where Gordon & you once worked.

    When I think of Noir nowadays, I only think of Wine. Times change. Noir even turns to color. What can you do?

    Farewell Noir.I need a drink.

  2. Gawd, I love "tell him everything aches." You know me, well .........you know me! :)

    You're a genius KB. I can hardly wait till I can puff up and say with a toss of my head, "WELL, you do know I knew her WHEN!" Sniff! "In fact, I happen to have some of her SUCCULENTS. Well the ones the damn squirrels didn't eat."

  3. Ah, Chandler. Just the breath of fresh air I like to read often. Your parody is pretty spot on.

    I'm bummed that I have not seen Farewell My Lovely. It sounds lovely, and it was the first Raymond Chandler book I read.

  4. Fun snippet of your screenplay. What a find! I'm now bummed to know I can't rent Farewell My Lovely, especially since it has one of my favorite actors Charlotte Rampling in it.

  5. Why not start a Facebook Group: "Bring back Farewell My Lovely"?

  6. I, for one, like your parody. If only you could get into the hands of one of those rare book agents/dentists your fortune would be made.

  7. Well, you missed the next episode -- the hooligans running the mud pie and frozen dessert mafia.

    But what's with this movie falling off the edge of the earth ever since the DVD release in 1999? Now that's suspicious.

  8. So there was a DVD released, but it can't be found anymore? How does that work? I wonder if it is available from a place like Videoteque in So Pas, which has all sorts of DVDs that can't usually be found at larger video stores.

  9. Well, I'm disillusioned. I thought hooligans did run the mud pie and frozen dessert mafia.

  10. First of all, lose the rusted spatula.

    And I dimly recall liking "The Long Goodbye" by Robert Altman. It was set in what was then modern day (1975?) LA. It too was a noir in color, with lots of rot. Lots.

  11. I love the comparison to melted wax, such a wonderful, visual description. Luckily, in the end all he really had to go on was talent. If I every wrote a parody (and I doubt I ever will) it would be "Flowering Judas" by Porter. Her description of Braggioni just begs for it. I looked about and found "Farewell My Lovely" as a movie on demand from Amazon for $9.99.

    I'm so excited:
    wv psycxacr
    psych acre, I have exactly an ancre

  12. Man, I like your friend Gordon. What fun you had for a boring day at work!

  13. Hey Paula -- View on Demand, didn't even know Amazon had that. But ok. A screening of this movie is definitely worth 10 bucks.

    (I'll have to read that story again. My fave in that collection was the Jilting of Granny Weatherall.)

    Brenda, you're so right. We let the whole thing drop once Gordon got us shipwrecked on one of the lesser Pacific Islands.

  14. Your metaphors have been looked over in the finest of places. I can't understand why you think the material is as dated as ...

  15. a rusted spatula. You kill me

  16. Paula beat me to it!!! I found it on Amazon too...you can buy a nearly new one for $36...or rent or download it for $9.99...not being a high tech mavin myself, if you download it, does that mean you can burn it to a dvd???

    I think your parody was spot on Ms Hiker!!!

  17. Frances: I think you're a very stupid person. You look stupid, you're in a stupid business, and you're on a stupid case.

    Philip Marlowe: I get it. I'm stupid.


  18. Sounds like good parody. Just don't mix up Chandler with Raymond Carver, please.

  19. I googled "rusted spatula" and found out something about the spatula test for tetanus....

    WV: tadectoi - exactly.

  20. "The night air was as cold as a puppy’s nose."

    I like that.

  21. "A fine man with outstanding gums.” if only my dentist would say something like that to me

  22. Earl googled rusted spatula? I'm rolling on the floor.

  23. Well, I was hoping to find a restaurant with that name. There are lots of things called "Rusty Spatula" but "Rusted Spatula" is rare indeed. There were some tips on how to clean a rusted spatula, I think.

  24. Miss J has watched "Murder My Sweet" last night. Chandler... not easily imitated or parodied.

  25. Did it occur to you that the rusty spatula might be evidence in a murder investigation?