Dig this nifty mini-doc (27 packed minutes) that is not about Raymond Chandler per se. It’s about the corrupt doings of Los Angeles in the 1930s and how they inspired and impacted what Chandler wrote about as his mid-life career as a writer was launched (he’d been an executive at an Oil company but got canned for drinking). This was produced in 1988 and features a marvelous narration track supplied by Richard Widmark. It provides a glimpse of the non-Hollywood world of that era, taking us through fascinating case of City Hall corruption and a private detective named Harry Raymond (who was one of the inspirations for Phillip Marlowe) who got ‘too close’ to some nasty business. The corruption of the town–the openly operated brothels, the gambling ships off the harbor, the bribes and money laundering being sanctioned at the highest levels of the city government–were all the stuff that fascinated Chandler and gave him his subject matter. The Harry Raymond/Mayor Shaw story is pure ripped-from-the-headlines stuff, as Raymond survives an assassination attempt and ‘blows the lid off’ the corrupt Mayor and his cronies. (Yes, people used those phrases outside of movies produced by Warner Brothers). Excellent old footage of the town in that era makes this doc a real find. How nice to see a film that one wishes were longer! By the way, the Chandler residence they reference at 4616 Greenwood Place in East Hollywood (just south of Los Feliz Blvd.) is still there and one of the apartments is currently for rent. Check out the listing. It may well have been the apartment Chandler and his wife were living in when he wrote his first stories for Black Mask Magazine…


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