Philip Marlowe in Film, Radio, Television, Comics, etc.


I‘ve always thought Dick Powell, the first screen Philip Marlowe, was also the best. Director Edward Dmytryk, screenwriter  John Paxton and producer Adrian Scott managed to captured the essence of Chandler that proved so elusive in so many other adaptations.

He was turned down for the lead in Double Indemnity (Paramount, 1944) because director, Billy Wilder thought the public would never buy Powell as anything but a lightweight song-and-dance man. But Powell nabbed the role of Marlowe in 1944’s Murder, My Sweet, now considered a film noir classic,  and never looked back. In fact, Powell’s previous image actually may have helped since nobody had great expectations.

William K. Everson, in The Detective in Film, suggests that “Powell — because the realistic conception of the private eye was relatively new, and because Powell was totally new to it — became Marlowe far more easily than Bogart [in The Big Sleep (Warner Bros., 1946)], who had several other competing images working against him: the gangster image, Sam Spade, Rick from Casablanca. Powell tossed off the tired, contemptuous, yet biting Raymond Chandler wisecracks and insults with superbly underplayed style.”

Me? I like Hawks’ The Big Sleep plenty–it’s a fun film, surprisingly light-hearted at times for a “film noir”–but it’s not Chandler’s Marlowe that Bogey’s playing. In the books, Marlowe is a gentleman, and even a bit of a prude, repelling Carmen’s advances, and wary of both romance and casual sex. In Hawks’ version, he’s a horny frat boy on the prowl, tearing his way through WWII Los Angeles, hitting on every babe in sight, including cabbies, booksellers and Vivian Sternwood.

But after the wild success of Bogart and Lauren Bacall in Hawks’ To Have Or Have Not, Warners was hot for another hit featuring the dynamic duo. Hawks told Warners he would need $50,000 to buy a story he was sure would be another smash, something tough yet romantic enough to capitalize on ther obvious chemistry between the two stars. That story was Chandler’s The Big Sleep.

But only $5,000 went to Chandler — the rest went to Hawks. Still, Hawks certainly earned his cut. By the time it was released, after numerous rewrites (and even going back and re-shooting key scenes almost a year later), Chandler’s dark existential stroll down the mean streets seen through the eyes of a world-weary detective had turned into a cheeky, sexy romp through LA, following a P.I. who spent much of his time flirting with man-hungry females.

There was another substantial difference between the two films, though.  Mike Davis lays it out plainly in City of Quartz: “Film noir remained an ideologically ambiguous aesthetic that could be manipulated in dramatically different ways. ThusHoward Hawks chose to flatten the deep shadows of The Big Sleep (Chandler’s moist anti-rich novel) into an erotic ambience for Bogart and Bacall, while the more tough-minded Edwatd Dmytryk and Adrian Scott (both future members of the Hollywood Ten) evoked premonitions of fascism and brainwashing in… Murder, My Sweet.”

After the one-two punch of Murder, My Sweet and The Big Sleep, films featuring Marlowe have been a decidedly mixed bag, ranging from the sleepily sublime (1975’s Farewell, My Lovely) starring a decidedly too-old-but-still-powerful Robert Mitchum to the ridiculous (1947’s Lady in the Lake, a stiff, pretentious piece of mangled film-making that utilized subjective camera, directed by and starring a very smarmy, gee-I’d-like-to-punch-him-in-the-face Robert Montgomry, the worst Marlowe ever). By comparison, such woozy creative re-interpretations as 1969’s Marlowe starring a too bemused James Garner, 1973’s The Long Goodbye directed by Robert Altman, with Elliot Gould as a half-stoned slacker and even 1978’s huh? remake of The Big Sleep with a half-awake Mitchum fumbling around 1970’s no-longer-swinging London, England don’t seem so bad.

Well, that The Big Sleep remake was bad, but Mitchum’s rumbling voice-over at the end of Marlowe’s soliloquy (excised in the Hawks version) almost makes up for it:

“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a stagnant lake or in a marble tower on the top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.”

The Long Goodbye, meanwhile, remains notable for its audaciousness. The still controversial re-interpretation of Marlowe by Altman and Gould followed a lost and befuddled Marlowe meandering through seventies-era Los Angeles, a man definitively out of time. But at least Altman and Gould knew who Marlowe was. You might not agree with their interpretation, but at least it was an honest interpretation, an honest attempt to imagine Marlowe in another era.

By 2023’s Marlowe, directed by Neil Jordan and starring an elderly Liam Neeson, they barely bothered with Chandler at all, instead choosing to base the film on a so-so Chandler pastiche by Benjamin Black). This disappointing and cynical travesty was more about branding and marketing, than anything else—although by 2023, would the mention of Marlowe or Chandler really pack ‘em in? Really? Maybe that’s why everyone involved did whatever the hell they wanted, regardless of almost anything Chandler ever wrote. Neeson often seems confused, and who can blame him? The film made little sense. It couldn’t seem to make up its mind if it was Chinatown or Die Hard or yet another Neeson action flick or maybe just a bad burrito. Friend of this site Nick Anez called it “Dull, poorly directed, badly acted and unbelievable, with Neeson looking like he should be in a wheelchair playing bingo,” and that about sums it up.

Nice props, though.

And then there’s MAZAN FILIP, a 2003 Czech comedy that was supposed to be an Airplane-type spoof of Chandler and American detective films of the 1940s in general, full of sight gags, wild puns, and slapstick humour, written and directed by Václav Marhoul. Tomás Hanák actually looked pretty good in the part of Marlowe, but Vilma Cibulková, who was supposed to be the femme fatale, was a bit long in the tooth for the role — she looks more like the femme fatale’s mother. But at least she could act, which is more than could be said for most of the rest of the cast — including Hanák — of this decidedly unfunny train wreck. According to one of its harshest online critics, it was “boring, almost narcoleptic,” while another suggested that is “puts the ‘sleep’ into The Big Sleep…”


  • MURDER MY SWEET | Buy this video Buy on DVD
    (UK title: “Farewell, My Lovely”)
    (1944, RKO)
    Based on the Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by John Paxton
    Directed by Edward Dmytryk
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki, Miles Mander, Douglas Walton, Ron Douglas, Ralf Harolde, Esther Howard
  • THE BIG SLEEP | Buy this video Buy this DVD Buy the BluRay | Watch it now!
    (1946, Warner Brothers)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett
    Directed by Howard Hawks
    Starring Humphrey Bogart as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Lauren Bacall, John Ridgeley, Martha Vickes, Dorothy Malone, Charles Waldron, Peggy Knudsen, Regis Toomey, Charles D. Browne, Elisha Cook, Jr., Robert Steele
  • THE LADY IN THE LAKE | Buy this video Buy the DVD |Watch it now!
    (1947, MGM)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Written by Steve Fisher
    Directed by Robert Montgomery
    Starring Robert Montgomery as PHILLIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Audrey Trotter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames, Jayne Meadows, Dick Simmons, Morris Ankrum, Lila Leeds, William Roberts, Kethleen Lockhart, Ellay Mort
    I don’t recall the Christmas theme in the novel… Anyway, a minor quibble in a film rich with problems. Montgomery had the brilliant idea of using a “subjective” camera so we (the audience) would see everything the way detective Philip Marlowe does. It really is a clever idea–and it really does not work. I’m especially partial to the scene where a badly beaten Marlowe crawls to a phone booth. The knee-high view is priceless.”
    D.L. Browne“Sheesh! They couldn’t even spell “Phillip” right on the office door. But the kissing of the camera lens has to be the nadir of all hard-boiled cinema.”
    Kevin Burton Smith
    (UK title: The High Window)
    (1947, 20th Century Fox)
    72 minutes
    Based on The High Window by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Dorothy Hannah
    Adaptation by Leonard Praskins
    Directed by John Brahm
    Produced by Robert Bassler
    Starring George Montgomery as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Nancy Guild, Conrad Janis, Roy Roberts, Fritz Kortner, Florence Bates, Marvin Miller, Houseley Stevenson, Bob Adler
    Long considered the redheaded stepchild of Marlowe films, it’s usually dismissed as inconsequential, and certainly stills from the film, depicting George Montgomery as a Marlowe who sports a cheesy mustache don’t hold much promise. But the film, only recently made widely available, while slight, is a pleasant surprise. Some very effective camera work and some great character bits go a long way to making this quickie B-flick an enjoyably satisfying piece of film.
  • MARLOWE | Buy this video | Buy the DVD
    (1969, Metrocolor/MGM)
    96 minutes
    Based on The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Stirling Silliphant
    Directed by Paul Bogart
    Cinematography by William H. Daniels
    Produced by Sidney Beckerman, Gabriel Katzka
    Starring James Garner as PHILIP MARLOWE
    with Gayle Hunnicutt as Mavis Wald
    Also starring Carroll O’Connor, Rita Moreno, Sharon Farrell, William H. Daniels, H.M. Wynant, Jackie Coogan, Kenneth Tobey, Bruce Lee, Christopher Cary, George Tyne, Corinne Comacho, Paul Stevens, Roger Newman, Read Morgan, Warren Finner
    This 1969 adaptation is well worth a look, even if Garner is a little stiff, caught somewhere between the hard-boiled dicks of 40s detective films and his future incarnation as easy-going Jim Rockford. Not essential, maybe, and too groovy for its own good, but fun nonetheless. And you get to see Bruce Lee tossed off a roof. Ouch!
  • THE LONG GOODBYE Buy the video | Buy the DVD Buy the Blu-Ray Watch it now!
    (1973, United Artists)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Leigh Brackett
    Directed by Robert Altman
    Starring Elliot Gould as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Jim Bouton, Warren Berlinger, Jo Ann Brody ,Stephen Coit, Jack Knight, Pepe Callahan, Vincent Palmieri, Pancho Cordova, Arnold Schwarzenneger
    Robert Altman’s quirky, rabble-rousing 1973 revisionist ode to Chandler and Marlowe is either a grievous insult, or a perfect update, depending on where you stand. You hate it, or you love it — that’s all there is to it. Elliot Gould stars, though Leigh (The Big Sleep) Brackett’s script is the real draw here.
    And the funny thing is that, despite the howls of the alleged “purists,” The Long Goodbye is probably truer to Chandler’s Marlowe than Hawks’ much more celebrated version, which swaps the essential loneliness of the character and the tragedy of crushed ideals of Chandler’s character for a Marlowe who’s more horny fratboy than doomed knight. In Altman’s vision, Marlowe is truly and undeniably part of the nastiness by the finale. No romantic clinches with the babe as the credits roll in this one.
  • FAREWELL, MY LOVELY | Buy this video Buy on DVD Watch it now!
    (1975, EK Corporation/ITC)
    95 minutes
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by David Zelag Goodman
    Directed by Dick Richards
    Produced by George Pappas, Jerry Bruckheimer
    Starring Robert Mitchum as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Charlotte Rampling, John Ireland, Sylvia Miles, Anthony Zerbe, Harry Dean Stanton, Jack O’Halloran, Joe Spinell, Kate Murtagh, Sylvester Stallone
    A solid, enjoyable flick, marred only by the fact Mitchum is about 30 or so years too late to play the role. But there’s something quite engaging in seeing Marlowe as a tired, aging bruiser plowing his way through a faithfully reproduced 1940s Los Angeles of mean streets and “shine bars.”
  • THE BIG SLEEP Buy this video Buy this DVD Watch it now!
    (1978, Winkast)
    99 minutes
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Michael Winner
    Directed by Michael Winner
    Produced by Elliot Kastner and Michael Winner
    Starring Robert Mitchum as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Sarah Miles, Richard Boone, Candy Clark, Joan Collins, Edward Fox, Jimmy Stewart, Oliver Reed
    Mitchum again, but even older and more tired, and for some reason now an ex-pat living and working London. There’s a solid cast, and in some ways it’s more faithful than Hawks’ classic (they restore the soliloquy, for example, and Candy Clark reclaims much of the disturbing, off-kilter sexuality of Carmen’s character) but it’s at best a curiosity, for die-hard fans only. It also underscores the fact they should have cast Mitchum as Marlowe thirty or so years earlier.
    aka “Smart Philip”
    (2003, Silver Screen)
    Based on the character created by Raymond Chandler
    and the play by Václav Marhoul
    Directed by Václav Marhoul
    Starring Tomás Hanák
    Also starring Vilma Cibulková, Pavel Liska,

    Inspired by Chandler, this Czech comedy was supposed to be an Airplane-type spoof of Chandler and American detective films of the 1940s, full of sight gags, wild puns, and slapstick humour.
  • THE LITTLE SISTER | Watch it on You Tube
    (2015, Brooklyn Multimedia)
    103 minutes
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Grafted over the PC game Private Eye (1996, Simon & Schuster Interactive and Byron Preiss Multimedia)
    Directed and scripted by Josh Buckland
    Josh Buckland, the creator of this little animated gem of a bootleg, who put this together using elements of the old PC game Private Eye (which is also based on The Little Sister), admits “I don’t own the copyrights to any of this material, and I cannot imagine who would.” Sure, the audio’s sketchy in spots, its provenance is even sketchier, and the story strays a little too much at times from the original, but what a ride! As Barry Ergang says “it seems to have been grafted over an old videogame, but some parts look like it was lifted from Scooby Doo, or possibly the graphic novel (but) definitely worth investigating.” FanFic taken to a whole new level.
    (2022, Open Road Films/Briarcliff Entertainment)
    Premiere: December 2, 2022
    Based on the novel The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black
    Screenplay by William Monahan
    Directed by Neil Jordan
    Starring Liam Neeson as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange, Danny Huston, Alan Cumming, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ian Hart, Colm Meaney, Daniela Melchior and Francois Arnaud. Neil Jordan directed the film from script by The Departed’s.


Dick Powell (him again!) reprised his role as Marlowe in a radio adaptation of Murder, My Sweet for Lux Radio Theatre in 1945. It was a toned-down but nevertheless successful version of the Chandler novel, and made Powell the first radio Marlowe. He later went on to become radio’s Richard Diamond.

Two years later, NBC produced Philip Marlowe as a summer replacement series for The Bob Hope Show. It featured several adaptations of Chandler short stories, but was considered too talky and slow-moving. Erle Stanley Gardner, in a letter to Chandler, confided he found it all rather difficult to follow. But the CBS series, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, that followed the next year, really clicked.

After a three episode trial run on The Pepsodent Program in September of 1947 with Van Hefflin in the title role, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe premiered as a weekly series on September 26, 1948. It was well-produced, less introspective than the books or the previous series on NBC, but it had a secret weapon: Gerald Mohr. Mohr excelled as Marlowe, and his snappy delivery, coupled with well-written stories and intriguing characters made for entertaining listening. By 1949 the show was pulling the biggest audience on American radio, with a rating of 10.3 million listeners. In 1950, Radio and Television Life Magazine named Gerald Mohr as the Best Male Actor on radio.

“And it had the best hard-boiled opening lines of any radio detectives series,” according to faithful contributor and OTR fan Stewart Wright. “It has to be heard to be fully appreciated…

“Get this and get it straight! Crime is a sucker’s road and those who travel it wind up in the gutter, the prison or the grave. There’s no other way, but they never learn.”

“I once used it as the voice mail message on my work phone and people called just to hear it,” Stewart confesses. “When I got back, I had lots of blank messages.”.

Finally, in 1977, the BBC had a whack at Marlowe, producing several full-length adaptations that, from all reports, are very very good, indeed. Raymond would have been pleased…

    (June 11, 1945)
    Based on Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Claire Trevor, Mike Mazursky, June Dupré
    (1947, NBC)
    13 30-minute episodes
    Adapted from short stories by Raymond Chandler
    Writer: Milton Geiger
    Sponsor: Pepsodent
    Starring Van Hefflin as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Guest stars: Gerald Mohr
    Announcer: Wendell Niles

    • “Red Wind”
    • “Trouble is My Busines”
    • “The King in Yellow”
    (June 8, 1948)
    30-minute episode
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler
    Written by Milton Geiger
    Directed by Robert L. Redd
    Music by Lionel Newman
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Mary Astor, Mike Mazurki, Arthur Wentworth, Lauren Tuttle
    (1948-50, CBS)
    (1951 Summer Replacement, CBS)
    Debut: September 26, 1948
    119 30-minute episodes, weekly
    Based on the character created by Raymond Chandler
    Writers: Mel Denilli, Robert Mitchell, Gene Levitt, Kathleen Hite
    Directors: Norman MacDonnell, Cliff Howell, Richard Sanville, Cliff Howell
    Producers: Norman MacDonnell, Jay Novello, Richard Sanville, Cliff Howell
    Starring Gerald Mohr as PHILIP MARLOWE
    and Jeff Corey as Lt. Ebarra (until May, 1949)
    Larry Dobkin as Lt. Det. Matthews (from June 1949)
    Guest stars: Parley Baer, Joan Banks, Tony Barrett, Edgar Barrier, Ed Begley Sr., Gloria Blondell, Jeff Chandler, John Dehner, Paul Frees, Virginia Gregg, Lou Krugman, Jack Kruschen, Peter Leeds, Jack Moyles, Larry Dobkin, Herb Butterfield, Barney Phillips, Gracie Allen, William Conrad, Roy Rowen, Paul Masterson, Vivi Ja Niss, Howard McNear, Laurette Fillbrandt
    Announcers: Roy Rowan, Bob Stevenson

    • “The Red Wind” (September 26, 1948)
    • “The Persian Slippers” (October 3, 1948)
    • “The Panama Hat” (October 10, 1948)
    • “Where There’s a Will” (October 17, 1948)
    • “The Heart of Gold” (October 24, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (October 31, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (November 7, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (November 14, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (November 21, 1948)
    • “The Hard Way Out” (November 28, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (December 5, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (December 12, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (December 19, 1948)
    • “The Old Acquaintance” (December 26, 1948)
    • “Unknown” (January 2, 1949)
    • “The Restless Day” (January 9, 1949)
    • “The Black Halo” (January 15, 1949)
    • “The Orange Dog” (January 22, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (January 29, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (February 5, 1949)
    • “The Lonesome Reunion” (February 12, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (February 19, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (February 26, 1949)
    • “The Friend From Detroit” (March 5, 1949)
    • “The Grim Hunters, The” (March 12, 1949)
    • “The Dancing Hands” (March 19, 1949)
    • “The Green Flame” (March 26, 1949)
    • “The Last Laugh” (April 2, 1949)
    • “The Name to Remember” (April 9, 1949)
    • “The Heat Wave” (April 16, 1949)
    • “The Cloak of Kamehameha” (April 23, 1949)
    • “The Lady in Mink” (April 30, 1949)
    • “The Feminine Touch” May 7, 1949)
    • “The Promise to Pay” (May 14, 1949)
    • “The Night Tide” (May 21, 1949)
    • “The Ebony Link” (May 28, 1949)
    • “The Unfair Lady” (June 4, 1949)
    • “The Pigeon’s Blood” (June 11, 1949)
    • “The Busy Body” (June 18, 1949)
    • “The Key Man” (June 25, 1949)
    • “The Dude from Manhattan” (July 2, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (July 9, 1949)
    • “The Headless Peacock” (July 16, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (July 23, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (July 30, 1949)
    • “The August Lion” (August 6, 1949)
    • “The Indian Giver” (August 13, 1949)
    • “The Lady Killer” (August 20, 1949)
    • “The Eager Witness” (August 27, 1949)
    • “The Bum’s Rush” (September 3, 1949)
    • “The Rustin Hickory” (September 10, 1949)
    • “The Baton Sinister” (September 17, 1949)
    • “The Fatted Calf” (September 24, 1949)
    • “The Tale of the Mermaid” (October 1, 1949)
    • “The Open Window” (October 8, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (October 15, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (October 22, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (October 29, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (November 5, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (November 12, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (November 19, 1949)
    • “Birds on the Wing” (November 26, 1949)
    • “Kid on the Corner” (December 3, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (December 10, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (December 17, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (December 24, 1949)
    • “Unknown” (December 31, 1949)
    • “The Torch Carriers” (January 7, 1950)
    • “The Covered Bridge” (January 14, 1950)
    • “The Bid for Freedom” (January 21, 1950)
    • “The Hair Pin Turn” (January 28, 1950)
    • “The Long Arm” (February 7, 1950)
    • “The Grim Echo” (February 14, 1950)
    • “The Ladies Night” (February 21, 1950)
    • “The Big Step” (February 28, 1950)
    • “The Monkey’s Uncle” (March 7, 1950)
    • “The Vital Statistic” (March 14, 1950)
    • “The Deep Shadow” (March 21, 1950)
    • “The Sword of Cebu” (March 28, 1950)
    • “The Man on the Roof” (April 4, 1950)
    • “The Anniversary Gift” (April 11, 1950); William Conrad guests as Marlowe)
    • “The Angry Eagle” (April 18, 1950)
    • “The High Collared Cape” (April 25, 1950)
    • “The Seahorse Jockey” (May 2, 1950)
    • “The Hiding Place” (May 9, 1950)
    • “The Cloak of Kamehameha” (May 16, 1950)
    • “The Foxes Tail” (May 23, 1950)
    • “The Bedside Manners” (May 30, 1950)
    • “The Uneasy Head” (June 6, 1950)
    • “The Face to Forget” (June 14, 1950)
    • “The Gold Cobra” (June 21, 1950)
    • “The Pelican’s Roost” (June 28, 1950)
    • “The Girl from Pitchfork Corners” (July 5, 1950)
    • “The Iron Coffin” (July 12, 1950)
    • “The Last Wish” (July 19, 1950)
    • “The Glass Donkey” (July 28, 1950)
    • “Unknown” (August 4, 1950)
    • “The Quiet Magpie” (August 411, 1950)
    • “The Dark Tunnel” (August 418, 1950)
    • “The Collector’s Item” (August 425, 1950)
    • “The Soft Spot” (September 1, 1950)
    • “The Fifth Mask” (September 8, 1950)
    • “The Final Payment” (September 15, 1950)
    • “The White Carnation” (September 22, 1950)
    • “The Big Book” (September 29, 1950)
    • “The Seaside Sabbatical” (July 7, 1951)
    • “Dear Dead Days” (July 14, 1951)Listen to it free!
    • “Life Can be Murder” (July 21, 1951)
    • “The Good Neighbor Policy” (July 28, 1951)
    • “The Long Way Home” (August 4, 1951)
    • “Unknown” (August 11, 1951)
    • “Young Man’s Fancy” (August 18, 1951)
    • “Unknown” (August 25, 1951)
    • “Unknown” (September 1, 1951)
    • “Unknown” (September 8, 1951)
    • “The Sound and the Unsound” (September 15, 1951; Mohr gave signoff)
    (1995, Lodestone Media/ Otherworld Media
    60 minute audio cassette
    Produced by David Ossman (Firesign Theatre)
    Starring Harris Yulin and Harry Anderson
    Murder and hardboiled mystery as PHILIP MARLOWE goes to the Northwest after stolen pearls in a breakthrough digital on-location audio production by The Firesign Theatre’s David Ossman. This is the best audio Marlowe ever! Chandler’s world comes to vivid life, recorded on-location near Seattle, and is illuminated by an enchanting original jazz/blues score. The program introduces a brand-new tune that’s bound to become an old standard: ‘My Lonely Love Affair’ by Janie Cribbs. Chandlerphiles, mystery lovers, and audio enthusiasts, this is not to be missed!” I’m sure this was broadcast by somebody, but I have no idea who.

  • PHILIP MARLOWE (1977-88, BBC4)
    Five episodes
    Each episode 90-110 minutes
    First broadcast: September 26, 1977 (BBC Radio 4)
    Based on the novels by Raymond Chandler
    Dramatised by Bill Morrison
    Produced by John Tydeman
    Starring Ed Bishop as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Rod Beacham, Robert Beatty, Blain Fairman, Don Fellows, Weston Gavin, Malcolm Gerard, Walter Hall, Henry Knowles, Peter Marinker, Paul Maxwell, Nicolette McKenzie, Diana Olsson, Liza Ross. Irene Sutcliffe, Elizabeth Bell, Gavin Campbell, Blain Fairman, David Healey, Toby Robins, Harry Towb,Clive Mantle, Doyle Richmond

    • “The Big Sleep” (September 26, 1977)Buy this on CD
    • “The High Window” (October 17, 1977)Buy this on CD
    • “The Lady in the Lake” (November 7, 1977)Buy this on CD
    • “The Little Sister” (January 16, 1978)Buy this on CD
    • “Farewell My Lovely” (July 23, 1988)Buy this on CD
      Some of the CD versions of this episode also included a 1958 conversation between Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming recorded for the BBC Home Service.

  • PHILIP MARLOWE | Buy this boxed set
    (2011, BBC4)
    Eight episodes
    Each episode 60-90 minutes
    First broadcast: February 5, 2011 (BBC Radio 4)
    Based on the novels by Raymond Chandler (and Robert B. Parker, for Poodle Springs)
    Dramatised by Robin Brooks, Stephen Wyatt
    Directors: Claire Grove, Mary Peate, Sasha Yevtushenko
    Starring Toby Stephens as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Kelly Burke, Leah Brotherhead, Sam Dale, Richard Ridings, Sarah Goldberg, Trevor White, Saskia Reeves, Judy Parfitt, Jessica Raine, Simon Bubb, Peter Polycarpou, Fenella Woolgar, Lorelei King, Stephen Campbell Moore

    • “The Big Sleep” (February 5, 2011)
    • “The Lady in the Lake” (February 12, 2011)
    • “Farewell, My Lovely” (February 19, 2011)
    • “Playback” (February 26, 2011)
    • “The Long Goodbye” (October 1, 2011)
    • “The High Window” (October 8, 2011)
    • “The Little Sister” (October 15, 2011)
    • “Poodle Springs” (October 22, 2011)



Marlowe made his television debut in 1954, played by Dick Powell (who else?), in a live adaptation of The Long Goodbye that served as the premiere episode of the anthonology series CLIMAX! Powell had, of course, played Marlowe ten years on the big screen, earlier in RKO’s Murder, My Sweet. By most accounts, it was generally a very good production, and was even featured on that week’s TV Guide cover, with a close-up of Powell as Marlowe in a clench with co-star Teresa Wright. But the live telecast is probably best known for the scene in which actor Tris Coffin, whose character had just died, gets up and walks away. Apparently Coffin thought he was out of camera range. He wasn’t. Unfortunately any recordings of the live episode have long since disappeared. Or been destroyed?

There’s not a whole lot of available information, either, on the first video series featuring of Chandler’s sleuth, PHILIP MARLOWE, which ran for 26 episodes from 1959-60 on ABC, and no memorable stories about it to make it stand out. Philip Carey, a big, tough and usually watchable actor, would seem to have been a decent choice to play Marlowe in 1959. Carey’s Marlowe differed from the books in at least two (and probably more) ways in that he sported a scar on one cheek and apparently had a marina apartment and his own boat. Huh?

The latter two changes prompted Time, in an article on the glut of TV detectives at the time, to question if Carey’s Marlowe might be on the take from some “wrongos. ” The series came out of the Goodson-Todman shop. These were the game show producers but they also made occasional forays into dramatic television (The Rebel, Branded). The line producer and frequent scripter was Gene Wang, a radio/television veteran who was also the first story editor on the Perry Mason television series. Frank MacShane’s biography of Chandler indicates that E. Jack Neuman, a top-drawer radio-television writer who later developed such long-running series as Dr. Kildare and Joseph Wambaugh’s Police Story, may have written for the series. Other writers included Charles Beaumont, best known for his work on The Twilight Zone, and James E. Moser, creator of Ben Casey and Medic. Obviously, some good talent behind the camera, but the show didn’t distinguish itself and only twenty-six episodes were aired. With so few episodes, it may not have even been syndicated. To my knowledge, episodes haven’t popped up on the video trading markets and it’s a question of whether the prints even still exist. Which is too bad. Even if the show were indifferent, it would be interesting to see what it looked like and, given the time, what the score sounded like. (Contributed by Ted Fitzgerald)

Far more faithful to the source material was PHILIP MARLOWE, PRIVATE EYE, a short (five episodes) series produced in England (and a second series, produced in Canada, responsible for another six episodes), tailored for the American cable television market, starring Powers Boothe as Marlowe. A real plus was that the shows were all adapted from Chandler short stories, even if they weren’t all originally Marlowe stories.

A lot of people really liked this one, but I thought it was all a little too fussy. Too much attention paid to detail, with not enough emphasis on how it all ties together made it look like an overly-bright, sterile period piece. Los Angeles in the dirty thirties and forties comes off as a quaint little setpiece with all the personality of an operating room. And the voice-over narration came off as overcooked Magnum. For me, Marlowe should carry a bit of world-weary introspection in his voice. And in this series, Marlowe had a girlfriend of sorts, in Annie Riordan, tucked away in (where else?) Bay City. The shows ran on HBO and the CBC in North America.

In July 1998, HBO took another crack at Marlowe, with the Bob Rafaelson-directed POODLE SPRINGS, starring James Caan as an aging Marlowe (it’s set in 1963). It’s based, at least theoretically, on the Robert B. Parker-completed version of Chandler’s unfinished novel. Caan was an intriguing choice, but some of the changes seem rather suspect. Linda Loring is now Laura Parker (?), and she’s no longer a spoiled rich kid, but a working attorney, and Poodle Springs is no longer Marlowe’s (and Chandler’s) derogative term for Palm Springs, but a small town where Phil and Laura settle down. Makes you wonder why they bothered paying for the rights to Chandler’s (or Parker’s) book at all, especially if they were going to let Tom Stoppard have free rein anyway.

Mind you, not everyone was disappointed. Cy Silver of Berkeley wrote in to say that he thought “it went well. The actual setting of the desert community in the production was very much like Palm Springs. And its location in the desert not too distant from the Nevada border does fit a Palm Springs-like ambience. And having James Caan play it as someone from another era gave it a time-warp quality, which I found intriguing and enjoyable. And not inconsistent with the inherent tension between Marlowe and Linda Loring.”

The next stab at reviving Marlowe on television was equally misguided. In 2007, ABC/Touchstone did a pilot/first episode for a potential series, MARLOWE, starring Jason O’Mara as Philip Marlowe. He is, of course, a Los Angeles private eye, but that’s where the resemblance ends. And it’s more than just the lame “updating” to modern times that sinks it — it’s the total lack of any meaningful relationship to Chandler that sends this one down the drain. O’Mara spouts a few predictable, obvious Chandlerisms, but this cocky, horny chatterbox (there’s plenty of voice-over narration) bears no resemblance at all to Marlowe or Chandler. There’s no poetry, no melancholy, no soul; no understanding of what made Chandler so special. Although this Marlowe has a secretary (who has a crush on the boss). But maybe I was hoping for too much. The less you think or Chandler or Marlowe, the easier it might be to enjoy this so-so P.I. outing. The pilot never even aired, but you can see it on YouTube.

Six years later, in 2013, ABC was at it again. This time they decided they’d get Andrew Marlowe (no relation), then riding high as the creator, executive producer and showrunner of Castle, and feature producer Michael De Luca (Captain Phillips, Fifty Shades of Gray) to turn Chandler’s eye into television magic. Marlowe was reportedly going to co-write the script with his wife, Terri Edda Miller, who’d also wriiten for Castle. Alas, the only magic involved was the complete disappearance of the show–it never even reached the pilot stage.

Faring much better was an unauthorized Japanese adaptation of THE LONG GOODBYE that came out the next year. The five-part mini-series, set in Tokyo (instead of Los Angeles) in the 1950s has private detective Banji Masuzawa looking into the death of his friend Tomotsu Harada, who apparently committed suicide after murdering his actress wife and fleeing to Taiwan. In its own way, this was as much a reimagining of the source material as Robert Altman’s 1973 feature film, the social and cultural upheavals of postwar Japan serving as the backdrop. I’ve never seen this one, though, so I’m only guessing. But it sure sounds intriguing.

    (1954-58, CBS)
    Drama anthology

    • “The Long Goodbye”
      (October 7, 1954)
      Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
      Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
      Also starring Cesar Romero, Teresa Wright, Tris Coffin
      Powell reprised his role as Marlowe, whom he had played a decade earlier in the theatrical release Murder, My Sweet.
    (1959-60, ABC)
    26 30-minute B&W episodes
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler
    Writers: Gene Wang, Berne Giler, Robert Bloomfield, James E. Moser, Charles Beaumont
    Directors: Irvin Kirshner, Boris Sagal, Robert Ellis Miller.
    Producer: Gene Wang
    A Mark Goodson, Bill Todman production
    Music: Richard Markowitz
    Starring Philip Carey as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Guest Stars: Rhys Williams, Virginia Gregg, Alexander Scourby, Marianne Stewart, CeCe Whitney, Robert Brubaker, Joan Banks, Joan Taylor, Joe DeSantis, Yvonne Craig, Stacy Harris, William Swan, John Dehner, Richard Hale, William Schallert, Rhodes Reason, Richard Crane, Kaye Elhart Franco Corsaro, Mercedes Shirley, Kathryn Card, Mark Roberts, Patricia Donahue, Suzanne Lloyd, Frank Fergusen, Edward Kemmer, Norm Alden, John Hudson, Gale Robbins, Rebecca Welles, William Schallert, Dorothy Green, Olive Sturgess, Whit Bissell, Nico Minardos, Jan Arvan, William Campbell, June Dayton, Valerie Allen, Barry Atwater, William Schallert, Gene Nelson, Betsy Jones-Moreland, Paul Richards, Tom Drake, James Douglas, Jan Shepard, Edward Kemmer, Marion Ross, Bill Quinn.

    • “The Ugly Duckling” (October 6, 1959)
    • “Prescription for Murder” (October 13, 1959)
    • “Buddy Boy” (October 20, 1959)
    • “Death in the Family” (October 27, 1959)
    • “Mama’s Boy” (November 3, 1959)
    • “Child of Virtue” (November 10, 1959)
    • “Bum Wrap” (November 17, 1959)
    • “Temple of Love” (November 25, 1959)
    • “The Mogul” (December 1, 1959)
    • “Hit and Run” (December 8, 1959)
    • “Mother Dear” (December 15, 1959)
    • “The Hunger” (December 22, 1959)
    • “Ricochet” (December 29, 1959)
    • “The Scarlet A” (January 5, 1960)
    • “A Standard for Murder” (January 12, 1960)
    • “Poor Lilli, Sweet Lilli” (January 19, 1959)
    • “Death Takes a Lover” (January 26, 1960)
    • “One Ring for Murder” (February 2, 1960)
    • “Gem of a Murder” (February 9, 1960)
    • “Time to Kill” (February 16, 1960)
    • “Murder in the Stars” (February 23, 1960)
    • “Murder by the Book” (March 1, 1960)
    • “Murder is a Grave Affair” (March 8, 1960)
    • “Murder is Dead Wrong” (March 15, 1960)
    • “Last Call for Murder” (March 22, 1960)
    • “You Kill Me” (March 29, 1960)
  • PHILIP MARLOWE, PRIVATE EYE (First series)Buy this series on DVD
    (aka “Marlowe, Private Eye“)
    (1984, London Weekend Television)
    11 60-minute episodes
    Based on stories by Raymond Chandler
    Writers: Jo Eisinger, David Wickes
    Directors: Peter Hunt, David Wickes
    Filmed in London and Los Angeles (1st series)
    A David Wickes Television Production
    Starring Powers Boothe as PHILIP MARLOWEWilliam Kearns asLt. “Violets” MageeKathryn Leigh Scott as Annie RiordanGuest stars: David Healy, Stephen Davies.

    • “The Pencil” (April 16, 1983)
    • “Nevada Gas” (April 23 1983)
    • “Finger Man” (April 20 1983)
    • “The King in Yellow” (May 7, 1983)
    • “Smart-Aleck Kill” (May 14, 1983)
  • MARLOWE, PRIVATE EYE (Second series)Buy this series on DVD
    (aka “Philip Marlowe, Private Eye“)
    (1986, HBO/ITV)
    6 60-minute episodes
    Based on stories by Raymond Chandler
    Writers: Jeremy Hole, Jesse Lasky Jr., Pat Silver
    Directors: Allan King, Robert Iscove, Bryan Forbes
    Filmed in Toronto
    Produced by Jon Slan
    A Paragon Motion Pictures Production
    Starring Powers Boothe as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Guest stars: Robin Givens, Kate Trotter, Christopher Newton, Ken Pogue, Gene Clark, Al Waxman, Roxanne Hart, Cec Linder, Mark Humphrey, Angelo Rizacos, John Ireland, Kate Reid, Jennifer Dale, Booth Savage, Paul Hecht, Helen Shaver, Ron Van Hart, Mavor Moore, John Vernon, Melody Anderson, Allan Royal, Peter Dvorsky, Robert Morelli, J. Winston Carroll, August Schellenberg, Linda Griffiths, Maury Chaykin, Frank Pellegrino, R.H. Thompson

    • “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot” (April 27, 1986)
    • “Spanish Blood” (May 4, 1986)
    • “Pickup On Noon Street” (May 11, 1986)
    • “Guns At Cyranos” (May 18, 1986)
    • “Trouble Is My Business” (May 25, 1986)
    • “Red Wind” (June 3, 1986)
    Aired as an episode of Showtime’s Fallen Angels.
    Based on the short story by Raymond Chandler
    Directed by Agnieszka Holland
    Starring Danny Glover as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Glover was nominated for a 1996 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for his portrayal of Marlowe in this episode.
    (1998, HBO)
    Made-for-television movie
    First aired: July 25, 1998
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler and the novel Poodle Springs, completed by Robert B. Parker
    Teleplay by Tom Stoppard
    Directed by Bob Rafaelson
    Produced by Geoff Stier
    Starring James Caan as PHILIP MARLOWE
    and Dina Meyer as Laura Jackson Parker
    Also starring Joe Don Baker, David Keith
    Eeesh! What were they smoking? Parker’s attempt to complete the last Marlowe novel at least came from the heart –this muddle-headed adaptation seems to have come from considerable lower and further back.
    (2007, ABC/Touchstone)
    TV Movie/pilot
    Based on the character created by Raymond Chandler

    • “Choices” | Watch it now!
      Teleplay by Greg Pruss & Carol Wolper
      Directed by Rob Bowman.
      Starring Jason O’Mara as PHILIP MARLOWE
      The less you think or Chandler or Marlowe, the more you might enjoy this generic P.I. outing. The pilot never even aired, but you can see it on YouTube.
    (2014, NHK)
    5-episode mini-series
    Premiere: April 19, 2014
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Teleplay by Aya Watanabe
    Directed by Kentaro Horikirizono
    Starring Tadanobu Asano  as BANJI MASUZAWA
    Also starring Rina Ohta, Gô Ayano, Akira Emoto, Akira Emoto, Arata Furuta, Tomorô Taguchi, Ai Tominaga, Eri Ishida, Ken’ichi Takitô
    An unauthorized adaptation of the novel finds 1950s Tokyo private eye Banji Masuzawa, looking into the alleged suicide of his friend Tamotsu.


  • THE LITTLE SISTER | Buy this book
    (1997, Fireside)
    Illustrated and adapted by Michael Lark
    Not Chandler’s best novel, but Michael Lark effectively tailored the text of The Little Sister to clarify the original story, emphasizing through his “comic noir” artwork the dark, dangerous environs, both physical and psychological, in which moves. Marilyn Stasio of The New York Times Book Review said “So, I read comic books–you want to make something of it? Not that “comic book” is the proper term, anyway, for a work of art like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: The Little Sister … this stunning graphic novel is as visually alluring as the big, bad city after dark.” The cover’s pretty lame, but the inside’s the real thing.
  • PLAYBACK | Buy this book
    (2004, Arcade (in French); 2006, Arcade (in English)
    Written by Raymond Chandler
    Adapted by Ted Benoit
    Art by François Ayrole
    Not the Philip Marlowe novel but an adaptation of the original, unproduced screenplay that he eventually turned into the last Marlowe book, all about a Vancouver cop trying to get to the bottom of some nasty business and help a dame out of a jam. This handsome, if rather bleak, story was brought to graphic novel form by writer Ted Benoit and artist François Ayroles and published in France in 2004 — now it’s been translated into English, and it’s a righteous job, all shadow and menace and dark style, sorta like Sin City, but with much better writing. It’s Chandler, man.


    (1978, Organic Theatre, Chicago)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Adapted by Stuart Gordon and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
    Directed by Stuart Gordon
    Starring Mike Genovese as PHILIP MARLOWE
    and Carolyn Purdy Gordon as Orfamay Quest, Mavis Weld and Dolores Gonzales
    Adapters Stuart Gordon and his wife, Carolyn Purdy Gordon double-dipped, with Stuart handling the directong chores, and Carolyn playing all three female leads.
    (1982, London)
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler
    Written by Richard Maher and Roger Mitchell
    Starring Robert Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
    In this original script, Marlowe is hired by Chandler to track down the manuscript for his next novel.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Ted Fitzgerald, Chris Mills, Henry Cabot Beck, Barry Ergang, Steven Ardron and Marc LaViolette for their help with this page. And a special thanks to Rina Fox for the TV Guide cover.


5 thoughts on “Philip Marlowe in Film, Radio, Television, Comics, etc.

  1. I should bring this up, since it doesn’t seem to be mentioned here. In 2017, it was announced that ‘The Departed”s William Monahan has adapted Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde as a script entitled Marlowe, with Liam Neeson attached to star. There’s been no news since then, but I think it’s a topic of interest, well worth bringing up.

    Incidentally, does anyone else think that Woody Harrelson would make a great older Marlowe? (Or even a young-ish Marlowe, as the guy hardly seems to age.)

    1. It certainly is worth bringing up. Thanks! Hmmm….

      Apparently MARLOWE is “in production,” but its IMDB page hasn’t been updated in over two years. Not a good sign.

      But, while Neeson might make a decent Marlowe, I’d much rather they filmed Lawrence Osborne’s ONLY TO SLEEP, a far better novel than Black’s so-so pastiche. Or, you know, one of Chandler’s Marlowe novels. I hear he wrote a few.

  2. Have you mentioned “Triste, Solitario y Final” by the Argentinian Osvaldo Soriano?…A real beauty that mixes Marlowe, Stan Laurel, John Wayne and Nixon.

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