As mentioned earlier, I’m a huge fan of Raymond Chandler. My mom bought me five Chandler paperbacks for my birthday when I was twelve. They were some of the first mysteries I had ever read, and to this day, I consider them some of the best ever written. Philip Marlowe is not only a character, not only an archetype, but the very definition of an entire literary genre. That, and he could totally kick Sam Spade’s ass in a fight.
So when I come across an article talking about a new movie adaptation, I sit up and take notice. Even though Hollywood has made millions of dollars aping the works of Chandler, it’s odd that they have not yet to get the character of Philip Marlowe right. Robert Montgomery, Dick Powell, James Garner, Robert Mitchum, even Humphrey freakin’ Bogart – none have been particularly memorable or even very good. Except for maybe Bogart, and his Marlowe was more Bogart than anything else. And the less said about Elliott Gould, the better.
Around the time my mom gave me those books, we watched a short-lived HBO series starring Powers Boothe as Philip Marlowe. Boothe got it all right: the toughness, the world-weariness, the intelligence, and the compassion. He was a bit broader in the chest than Bogart, who was always thin as a reed, completely unfit for mixing it up with the LA underworld. Nope. I absolutely dug Powers Boothe, and when I read and re-read those Chandler paperbacks, it was Boothe’s face that I pictured under the fedora.
But now I read that none other than Clive Owen will play Marlowe in an upcoming project that hasn’t been officially announced yet, so in all likelihood it’ll fall apart as soon as I post this. But I don’t know what to think – Owen’s certainly a good actor who deserves his shot at the role, I’m a bit uneasy. If his movies show nothing else, it’s that the man can’t hide his British accent for crap, and I can’t picture Marlowe with a Brit accent.
Am I wrong? Am I being nitpicky? Will someone reassure me that this will go fine?