BW - EP130—002: Philip Marlowe Comes To Radio—Who Is Philip Marlowe

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Philip Marlowe, born in Santa Rosa, California, is six feet tall and weighs one-hundred ninety pounds. He has dark wavy hair. In Chandler’s first Marlowe novel, The Big Sleep, set in 1936, he’s thirty-three. Marlowe had two years of college and was an investigator for the LA District Attorney. He was fired for insubordination. His office is in the Cahuenga Building on Hollywood Boulevard near Ivar. James Bond author Ian Fleming once asked Raymond Chandler why he set the Marlowe stories in Los Angeles. Through Marlowe’s eyes, L.A. comes to life. He frequents everything from the nightclubs of West Hollywood to the seedy downtown hotels, from the Pasadena mansions to the Santa Monica gambling ships, from the Hollywood glamor factories to the rundown bus depots. He drinks whiskey, usually Four Roses or Old Forester, and sometimes drinks Gin. His preferred coffee is black and his cigarette brand is Camel. At home, he smokes a pipe, especially while playing chess by himself. It was said that Chandler wrote like “a slumming angel invested in the sun-blinded streets of LA with a romantic presence.” The second Marlowe novel, Farewell, My Lovely, was published in 1940. This was followed by The High Window in 1942 and The Lady In The Lake in 1943. The first official Marlowe film was Murder My Sweet with Dick Powell in 1944. Powell played the adaptation of Farewell, My Lovely on the June 11th, 1945 episode of The Lux Radio Theatre. Humphrey Bogart starred in the 1946 adaptation of The Big Sleep heard opposite Lauren Bacall at the beginning of this act. That same year Chandler and his wife bought a home in ​​La Jolla. In early 1947 two new Marlowe films came to theaters. The Lady In The Lake starring Robert Montgomery was released in January. Montgomery reprised his role on the February 9th, 1948 episode of Lux. Then in February, an adaptation of The High Window called The Brasher Doubloon came to theaters starring the unrelated George Montgomery. Marlowe was a hot commodity. On March 22nd, it was announced that NBC would be bringing a summer series to the air. Tuesday nights were NBC’s highest-rated evening, and although summer ratings were always the year’s lowest, NBC executives had high-hopes that Marlowe would be a perfect fit Tuesday nights at 10PM eastern, 9PM pacific. The ad agency Foote, Cone, and Belding made a deal with MGM. They tabbed rising leading man Van Heflin to play Marlowe.

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