Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When Marlowe Married

No longer down-at-heel private eye Philip Marlowe is shown over his new home by his rich bride:
“Yes, darling,” I kissed her. “I’ll get a pet monkey and after a while you won’t be able to tell us apart.”
“You can’t have a monkey in Poodle Springs. You have to have a poodle. I have a beauty coming. Black as coal and very talented. He’s had piano lessons. Perhaps he can play the Hammond organ in the house.”
“We got a Hammond organ? Now that’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing without.”
“Shut up! I’m beginning to think I should have married the Comte de Vaugirard. He was rather sweet, except that he used perfume.”
“Can I take the poodle to work? I could have a small electric organ, like one of the babies you can play if you have an ear like a corned beef sandwich. The poodle could play it while the clients lie to me. What’s the poodle’s name?”
“A big brain worked on that one.”
“Don’t be nasty or I won’t — you know.”
“Oh yes you will. You can hardly wait.”
— Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker, “Poodle Springs”

Interesting to note that the wisecracking Chandler private detective evolved along the same lines as his inspiration, the wisecracking Dashiell Hammett detective — the tough and aloof Sam Spade became the tough but softening Nick Charles, married to a beautiful, doting heiress. But the detective they came to call the Thin Man would chaff a little less than Marlowe at being “kept.” Marlowe’s quips start to sound a bit churlish, even as they continue to amuse.

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