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Genre: Noir/Historical
Premise (from writer): P.I. Sam Marlowe shows novice writer Raymond Chandler the realities of detective work, juggling gangsters, corrupt politicians and movie star Jean Harlow to find out who’s burning farms on the Arroyo Seco Canyon.
Why You Should Read (from writer): This is the real life story from the files of Detective Samuel B. Marlowe.
Writer: L.M. Ransil
Details: 107 pages

the-pelican-brief-denzel-washingtonMarlowe?

I’m going to say something that’s rather embarrassing. I don’t know anything about Raymond Chandler, one of the most famous novelists of all time. I’ve, of course, heard his name. But I had to rely on good old Google to know what he wrote, and just how big time he actually was.

When I realized that Chandler was going to be a selling point of the story, I was worried. There aren’t too many people around with a healthy memory of the 30s, and with this being such a youth-obsessed town, selling stories to a youth-obsessed audience, I wondered if a movie from that time could drum up any interest.

However, as the script goes on, and we start wandering onto the stages of MGM, and into the back yard of Hollywood starlet Jean Harlow, I began to see the potential of “Marlowe” to exploit the L.A. noir sub-genre, which always finds its way into production every few years or so. So, were we gonna get another L.A. Confidential here? Or was this no-ir close to that (Get it? “no-where.” Hey, it’s Friday, people. Loosen up!)?

“Marlowe” is so densely plotted and has so much going on, it’s a little hard to keep up with, but I’ll do my best to summarize. Sam Marlowe is an African-American private investigator in Los Angeles, circa 1937 (the very first, in fact).

When he’s not working, Marlowe usually sits at his office, where he cavorts with his good friend and aspiring actress, Velma, and Velma’s brother, the mentally retarded Freddy. On this particular occasion, he’s also brought home the perpetually wasted Raymond Chandler, a friend and aspiring novelist.

So one day, Freddy comes back stabbed in the gut, on death’s doorstep, a camera in his hand. He mentions something about a fire in “Arroyo Seco” and then dies. Committed to finding his killer, Marlowe goes on the offensive.

Along the way, he finds himself lured in by one of the studios, MGM, who wants him to find their new cash cow, starlet Jean Harlow, who’s recovering from her husband’s (famous director Paul Bern) suicide, by partying her brains to mush.

While going after Harlow, Marlowe runs into Los Angeles bigwigs like the mayor, the district attorney, and uber-gangster Benjamin Siegel, who all, for some odd reason, have taken an interest in his latest exploits. Could this have something to do with the rumor that Harlow’s husband didn’t commit suicide, but was possibly murdered?

Eventually, Marlowe chases down Freddy’s murderers to an old house in Arroyo Seco, where he discovers a conspiracy by the town’s politicians and gangsters to burn everything in sight in order to create a highway between there and L.A. proper, that will make everyone rich.

“Marlowe” has been gaining some heat in other areas of the internet (I know it did well in The Tracking Board competition) and you can immediately see why. The script is dense with “old-world” Los Angeles mythology, a time capsule into 1937 that was so well-researched, you could feel the corrupt cops breathing down your neck.

The thing is, “Marlowe” is so full of story, I began to lose sight of what the story actually was. The script starts out being about Marlowe looking into his friend’s murder. However, it quickly turns into Marlowe needing to find and take care of Jean Harlow. Finally, there’s a plot that involves a mysterious house that Velma is trying to secure so she can bury her brother on the land.

All of these things are interconnected, but most of those connections are kept from us as mysteries to be revealed later. As the second act evolves, it’s clear that Harlow’s storyline is taking precedence, so we jump on board with that. Once that winds down, however, and we head back to Freddy’s murder and the house in Arroyo Seco, I’d forgotten a lot of the intricate details required to connect the overall mystery’s dots.

I guess my question would be, does “Marlowe” have too much plot going on? Are we trying to do too much here? That may come down to who the audience for Marlowe it. If it’s for people steeped in L.A. noir lore who know all these names like the back of their hand, it’s probably a lot easier for them to keep up.

For someone like me, though, who knew nobody, it took a lot more brain-power just to connect one scene with the next, much less understand the overall mystery. I’m still trying to figure out how that house in Arroyo Seco was connected to everything.

I guess in the end, you make a choice as a writer who you want to appease, the people who know everything or the people who know nothing. But for me, personally, I would’ve loved a little more hand-holding.  I’m a bit of a simpleton.

In addition to the complexity of the plot, I was surprised at how little Raymond Chandler had to do with it. Since the script starts with him, we’re led to believe he’s going to be a major character. Particularly because Marlowe supposedly inspired Chandler’s greatest works. But Chandler passes out early, is absent for 80 pages, before returning for the finale.

Having said all that, there are definitely some things to celebrate about Marlowe. First, the character work is really strong. You feel everyone here, from the weight of the city’s biggest gangster to the widespread corruption of the most insignificant beat cop. Writing memorable characters is one of the hardest things to do in screenwriting, so whenever I see it done well, I have to give the writer an ovation.

Also, Marlowe is a protagonist actors are going to want to play. A black private detective who stands toe-to-toe with the city’s biggest white personalities in 1937? I could see Denzel Washington chewing this role up.

The dialogue is good too. Ransil understands the nuances of that chip-on-your shoulder back-and-forth a p.i. in 1937 would dish out. “I don’t like your manners,” someone says to Marlowe. “Don’t like’em much either,” he replies. “Let justice do its job, Marlowe,” the D.A. says later. “Justice goes to the highest bidder. Anyone who can’t pay, better go find his own.” There’s a lot of that here, and it’s all pretty darn good.

But you guys know me at this point. I’m all about the story. If the story isn’t at the very least, clear, it’s hard for me to get on board. And that’s my big issue with “Marlowe.” I think there’s too much going on in it. I’d ask Ransil if there’s any way to simplify this.

Do we really even need Chandler? Since he’s only in the last 20 pages? And do we need Freddy? I know it’s his murder that starts this investigation, but it’s clear that the Jean Harlow stuff is the main storyline, overpowering Freddy so much that his murder almost becomes an afterthought.

What if we started with Marlowe getting hired by the studio to find Harlow? That investigation leads him into the Chinatown’esque conspiracy of Arroyo Seco. Then you only have to connect the dots between two elements instead of three. In many ways, it would still be the same story. I think it’s good that Freddy gives Marlowe’s case a more personal slant, but if it’s at the expense of clarity, maybe it isn’t the right way to go.

Then again, this was only my experience with the screenplay. Others may have been able to follow it just fine. That’s the nice thing about the comments section, is that we can pinpoint common problems.

But yeah, I thought “Marlowe” had a lot of good things going for it, and there’s no doubt Ransil is a talented writer. I would just hope that in future drafts, it’s a little easier to follow.

Script link: Marlowe

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: When you’re writing real-life people into your script, don’t assume that the reader knows who they are, because a lot of readers won’t know who they are. Treat these characters just like you’d treat any characters and have them work on their own right. In other words, a story should never be determined by its “celebrity cameos” but rather by the quality and clarity of the characters as they relate to the story.

  • MaliboJackk

    TOTALLY OT
    Why does this recently announced Abrams/Billy Ray project sound kinda familiar?

    OVERLORD
    Logline: A group of American soldiers work together on D-Day to overcome
    the Nazis and their new secret weapon – a tar like serum that turns
    those injected with it into zombies.

  • carsonreeves1

    That sounds unlikely.

    • astranger2

      OT – Carson, you’ve often talked about the power of the sizzle over the steak. You loved Grendl’s title of Driving Miss Crazy, and have said that a great title like Monsters-in-Law is worth a hundred million on its own. You’ve said this before. A mantra.

      In your opinion, IF you have a phenomenal high-concept idea, great title, coupled with mediocre writing — will it fly higher than great writing, with mediocre story? Because the more I talk with people that actually read these specs — once they don’t like the story, doesn’t matter how good the writing is, they’re out… That your opinion?

    • Wes Mantooth

      The Guest is right. Phillip Marlowe, the character created by Chandler, was completely invented and not based on any one person. Sam Marlowe is completely the creation of Ransil.

  • MGE3

    This sounds very similar to the Untitled Mann/Logan project which was setup at Universal with Leo DiCaprio a few years back. Very CHINATOWN with elements of MICHAEL CLAYTON (Leo was slated to play fixer for MGM).

  • leitskev

    This has been a very good week of Scritpshadow notes.

    However…based on this review…this story sounds really good to me! And it even sounds well structured. It’s just a complicated structure, but it doesn’t sound overly complicated. No more than a regular P. Marlowe detective mystery…or a Marlowe film.

    Hard to say without reading the script, but I might just have to find the time.

    Also, I have to take some exception to this: “When you’re writing real-life people into your script, don’t assume that the reader knows who they are…”

    I mean where is the line drawn for that? If you’re doing a story on JFK can you assume the audience knows who LBJ is? Most people probably don’t anymore, but how can you do JFK without him? What about RFK? What about the Bay of Pigs?

    Granted, a story on Marlowe and Chandler is not going to appeal to much of the Iron Man crowd. And that’s not a knock on Iron Man or his crowd. Just saying there are different types of audiences.

    A story like this will never have as broad an audience. However, if the characters are well drawn, it would have tremendous appeal to actors…most of which will know who Marlowe, Chandler, and Bugsy are.

    There was a similar film made a few years back with Denzel called Devil in a Blue Dress. Takes place in the 1950s. Denzel is looking for a girl, then for a killer, then trying to protect the girl he was hired to find. It might sound complicated, but it’s easy to follow actually.

    • andyjaxfl

      Devil in a Blue Dress is a tremendous movie and I’m still disappointed that audiences rejected it because we’d be looking at the 10th movie with Denzel as Easy Rawlins otherwise…

      • drifting in space

        Man, no joke. I wanted to practice “adapting” a book (Devil) and was sad to see that it had already been made AND bombed. Couldn’t fuggin’ believe it.

        • mulesandmud

          If you really want the practice, try adapting A Red Death or another book from the Easy series. Also gives you a crack at writing a sequel, which can’t hurt if you’re looking to play the studio game.

      • leitskev

        Yeah, I enjoyed it.

  • brenkilco

    Now let me get this straight. Someone who spends his time critiquing genre fiction has no familiarity with Raymond Chandler, after Hemingway the most imitated writer in American history.And the one who probably wrote the best dialogue. Now ignorance in this case goes way beyond the inexcusable failure to read any of his novels or short stories. It must also mean that you’ve never seen any of the dozen or so adaptations of his work: Murder My Sweet or Farewell My Lovely or The Big Sleep – only the greatest private eye movie ever and one of the best Bogart movies ever! You’ve never seen Double Indemnity. Yeah, he was a screenwriter too. Look, I know on the first day God created Star Wars but c’mon. How do you create or even recognize something first rate if you don’t immerse yourself in stuff that is first rate?

    • mulesandmud

      I guess Carson deserves a little credit for admitting his ignorance, rather than faking it and propping himself up on wikipedia. Or is that a low bar?

      • brenkilco

        Yeah, I suppose honesty is the best policy. But I can’t think of a more enjoyable homework assignment than watching The Big Sleep for the first time so he oughta get on that.

      • Eddie Panta

        Agreed, but still shocking

        • mulesandmud

          Well, not exactly shocking. Upsetting, maybe, or vaguely disappointing. Or just par for the course.

          The writing insight that Carson provides isn’t literary and doesn’t pretend to be. When it comes to storytelling, he’s got a strong, informed perspective on a very narrow subset of fiction – the hollywood screenplay – and that’s about it.

          This tunnel-vision, and his shamelessness about it, is exactly the reason that Carson’s posts are useful. As lessons on writing craft, caveat emptor, but as career advice and a window into how young execs think, they’re invaluable.

          • Eddie Panta

            Well said, I understand what Carson’s focus is on. I have no doubts “young executives” have no reverence for what came before them.
            I can imagine they live in L.A. drink at some faux-dive on Sunset Blvd. with a framed picture of Charles Bukowski on the wall and don’t know who he is either. Ignorance is okay for the buyer, but not for the seller.

            Yes, we should all be tolerant of mediocrity, but let’s not applaud it.

            Instead, let’s face facts here, Chandler is a writer of pulp fiction, whose stories all take place in LOS ANGELES! We’re not talking about being well versed in the literary classics of William Faulkner here. What other novelist has influenced the craft of screenwriting more? Not to mention Chandler’s style is all over another famous book about L.A. – Bret Easton Ellis’ LESS THAN ZERO.

            That’s like saying you’re in the “biz” but you don’t know who William Goldman is or Syd Field is.

            I’ve never finished a Cormac McCarthy book nor Philp K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, I’m not into their writing style. But Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies. It’s my job to know the source of my inspirations.

          • brenkilco

            Chandler sort of resides at the intersection of pulp and art. And isn’t that where most of the best movies are located? Hammet may have influenced screenwriting as much as Chandler. His prose was even more pared down, his dialogue less funny but still memorable and when he wasn’t writing in the first person he never went inside his characters’ heads. John Huston famously observed that all he really had to do to turn the Maltese Falcon into a script was take out the he saids and she saids.

    • Brainiac138

      Don’t forget The Long Goodbye, it is Chandler, but set in the 70s, and brought to life like only Altman could.

      • brenkilco

        And as terrifically, loopily Altmanesque as it is, it surprisingly hews pretty closely to the plot of Chandler’s book.

    • Nicholas J

      Yeah, it’s almost like people have their own tastes and interests, and along the way may have missed a few movies and novels out of the millions of stories out there.

      Shit, I just realized I’ve never seen Raging Bull! I guess I’ll never be able to write a good script or have a legitimate opinion on someone else’s work until I’ve seen it!

      • drifting in space

        Haha, I love this.

      • wlubake

        The only way you get my respect is if you have seen the movies I’ve seen and read the books I’ve read, damn it!

        On a somewhat similar note:

        In college my then girlfriend, now wife, had a roommate named Megan. We were watching a movie as a group one day, and she proclaimed Will Smith to be the greatest black actor ever. I suggested Sidney Poitier might be a strong contender for that title, versus Mr. Smith (despite a convincing turn in Men In Black 2). Megan replied, “who is Sidney Poitier?” I bite my tongue, as she may just not know his name. So I start listing movies: To Sir with Love, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, heck Sneakers. Crickets. By the end it had gotten so uncomfortable in the room (as I was getting frustrated) that Megan left, never to speak with me again. I later learn that her favorite movie is Glitter, featuring Mariah Carey. I decided then that having her cut me off was probably for the best.

        • Nicholas J

          I probably sound that way when I talk about cars. (Which is never, because I don’t know a damned thing about cars.)

          Last week people jumped all over Carson for not knowing that in The Avengers, Captain America being frozen and thawed out years later was from the source material.

          First of all, so? What does that matter? And second, what is this, an interview panel at comic-con?

      • brenkilco

        No, but I do think that you’ll improve your odds if you watch movies with brilliantly constructed plots and amazingly sharp dialogue and read books that describe physical action and locations both vividly and economically. Since Chandler is the whole nine yards, as well as being one of the most sheerly enjoyable of all writers, he isn’t a bad place to start.

        • Nicholas J

          Now that I think about it, this writer has some serious guts, assuming they realize that the subject matter here will result in an inevitable comparison of their work to that of one of the most iconic writers ever.

          I’m scared to even mention a title of another work in my script as a throwaway joke.

          • brenkilco

            I’m suddenly reminded of this really godawful forgotten movie from the 1970’s called The Black Bird. It’s a comic sequel to The Maltese Falcon with George Segal playing the son of Sam Spade. Not making this up. Google it. It even features some of the actors from the original film. Sort of half mystery and half farce. And man does it suck. Don’t know who the writer was but he had guts.

  • leitskev

    Come on, man. Marlowe is fictional, but the story’s premise is obviously that there was a real Marlowe, who happened to be black, that inspired the fictional white hero Chandler invented. Is that so implausible from a story perspective? Jeesh.

    This is similar tho how Chuck Wepner inspired Stallone to write Rocky. Only in this case it’s a story device. It’s been done many times before in literature, and it’s actually a great idea.

    • Michael

      Not so fictional, here is his obituary:

      https://sites.google.com/site/samuelbmarlowe/

      • brenkilco

        And his name was really Sam Marlowe? How did an African American function as a PI in the environment of the thirties? This is wild. I certainly assumed the character was only that.

        • leitskev

          Still it’s plausible enough to base a film on it. Thanks for that! That guy sounds like a great character.

          • Michael

            That does sound like a great character. Considering how racist the LAPD were during that period, the potential for conflict with a black PI is endless. Lose Chandler and tell this guy’s story.

          • leitskev

            No, no, keep Chandler(I have not read the script, though). Because that’s a way to draw more curiosity to the story, and potentially draw a name actor. And Chandler would be a great character to have in a story, even if just for a bit part.

          • drifting in space

            Were? Some things don’t change.

      • leitskev

        Wow! That is awesome! Did Chandler base his character on him?

        • brenkilco

          No mention of this guy in any Chandler bio I’ve seen.

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Michael-

        Thanks for the additional info/link. Now knowing it’s loosely based on a real individual just adds more weight to an already compelling story.

        I thought Marlowe was one of the better AOW scripts to come down the pike in a long time.

        A big congrats to Ms. Ransil for nabbing the AF spotlight with her project.

  • fragglewriter

    I guess I liked the script because I started getting into film noirs in the last 2 years, and I love drama back then that had elements of comedy. This script reminds me of the Raymond Chandler film “Murder My Sweet.” The big brute, the wise cracking, and the multi-plot story lines.

    I agree with Carson that if you’re not a film of that generation or author, it will go over your head. I thought it was entertaining, and can definitely see it being made because an actor would love to play the title role, black detective going against big white personality, and also films from that LA noir period I think would fare well if they don’t try to make it splashy with a lot of special effects. Shoot it black & white and try to keep the budget under $25 million.

    Quality and clarity of the characters as they relate to the story should be your next writing article as this is missing int he majority of movies.

    I watched “Broken Kingdom” the other night on SHO. I was curious about this movie because one day there was nothing on TV and I decided to flip the channels and watched the making of this movie “Kingdom Come.” A writer/director doing his first project and running into obstacles dealing with financing and getting it released. Long story short, he went broke and went back to acting. He was so passionate about this movie: 14-year old Colombian prostitute.

    After watching this film, besides wanting my time back, I realized that:
    -logline was misleading,
    -there was no clarity,
    -too vague,
    -not artistic (relevant to who you ask), and
    -celebrity cameos (again, relevant to who you ask).

    I didn’t understand any of the characters better at the end of the movie because of the aforementioned above, and can understand Carson’s frustration.

    I agree that starting the script where Marlowe is contracted by the studio would help out audiences who are not familiar with Marlowe to flesh him out. This will give you time to flesh out the story more. I understood why Chandler blacked out and was missing for 80 pages and why Freddy was killed, but that is because I’ve watched a few of his movies and downloaded his books on my iPhone (haven’t read them yet).

  • leitskev

    I am starting to see a problem, though not with Carson at all, which is one reason I like his approach. But I see it in a lot of the comments. To sum it up:

    To review a script, many think they have to be an amateur film critic.
    To be like a film critic, they believe they have to be sarcastic and caustic, which they associate with coming off as knowledgeable.
    The easiest way to employ sarcasm is to say “we’ve seen this all before”.
    And so we end up with such an over-sensitized search for the “familiar” that it becomes at times absurd.
    For example: a movie about terrorists is not necessarily Die Hard.
    Constantly referencing other films in a way that suggests nothing like it can ever be done again is the disease I am talking about.
    If someone can find a film where there was black private eye, they will use that to call the script above cliche. That’s a poor approach.
    It’s like a lot of people think they can purchase some kind of cred by doing this.
    And this kind of approach even works its way into some pro film and script reviewers.
    In the hands of someone filled with facts, it can come off as elitist and snobby.
    In the hands of someone less knowledgeable, it just comes across as an unneeded negative predisposition.
    Just please think twice before saying a script is terrible because it reminds you of some obscure South Korean film from the 1970s.
    That’s all I’m asking.
    Carson’s review above is an example of how to do it well, even though I suspect I disagree with him from the sounds of the story. His criticism is that the story does not have a clear spine, and that the target audience is too narrow. That’s what analysis should be.
    If you find yourself constantly referencing other films, you’re on the wrong path.

    • James Michael

      Great point. This is a huge pet peeve of mine too. New ideas are impossible. there will always be something else that’s been done that’s similar. All we can do is try and re-do an old idea in a new way.

      And just to add to the list. My biggest pet peeve when someone’s reviewing a script is when people describe dialogue as ‘one the nose.’ Yes, on the nose dialogue is a problem but I feel like a lot of people use this as a blanket term when they don’t like the dialogue but can’t decide why “Oh it must be too on the nose then.’ Sometimes people do have to say something out-right. And doing so doens’t mean that you’ve written bland dialogue. I find that in an attempt to not be on the nose, a lot of amateurs start trying to write around the topic so much that it just becomes confusing.

      That’s all

      • brenkilco

        On the nose is generally short hand for dialogue that is stiff, undifferentiated, unnaturally expository, witless, colorless, the product of a tin eared writer without an appreciation of how people actually talk and with no ability to take the rambling, prolix, repetitive elements of real speech and hone them to something that feels natural but gets your story told. I confess I use it to avoid writing paragraphs like this.

  • Nate

    I haven’t read this yet but going off Carson’s review I think the story could easily be fixed.
    Start with Freddy’s murder and Marlowe’s initial investigation but instead of being hired by MGM to locate Jean Harlow, his investigation leads him to her and together they discover that Benjamin Siegel murdered Freddy and Jean’s husband because they found out MGM – of which Siegel has a stake in – is involved in a real estate scam.
    That way you can have most of the players involved with the story in some capacity but the story itself becomes easier to follow and less muddled.

  • ElectricDreamer

    The Los Angeles Sentinel & the 1940 California census confirm the man existed.
    http://www.ancestry.com/1940-census/usa/California/Samuel-B-Marlowe_2hy1kz

    I’m guessing the author went the speculative history route.
    Something like Nicholas Roeg’s film, Insignificance.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089343/

    While it likely won’t enthrall a wide audience, the concept works for me.
    I think we’re ready in the 21st century for some diversity film noir.

    Get this script in the hands of Steve McQueen’s agent pronto!

  • drifting in space

    I am a huge fan of this genre and sad I didn’t have time to check this out. To the author: If you do a rewrite in the future based on any notes you receive, send it over to me – driftinginscripts at gmail dot com.

    I’m happy to see people still want to write in this genre. I too am noodling an idea of this era though it completely flips it on its head.

  • wlubake

    Googled “Sam Marlowe” and found a 1980 movie called “The Man With Bogart’s Face” where a man obsessed with old Bogart movies gets plastic surgery to look like Bogart and calls himself Sam Marlowe, private eye. So, connected with this script, we have Sam Marlowe, based upon Phillip Marlow, based upon Sam Marlowe! Good times.

    • wlubake

      And an IMDB page for the Sam Marlow referenced here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2105809/bio

    • wlubake

      Love Google. Found the writer’s LinkedIn page. She spent 12 years as an exec at New Line! No wonder her writing is so professional. Not your average 20-something male amateur Friday submission. Shows on the page too.

    • brenkilco

      The two most famous fictional P.I.’s are obviously Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. Both played by Bogart. Hence the name in The Man With Bogart’s face. To find out there was a black, thirties gumshoe actually named Sam Marlowe is slightly mind boggling.

  • Eddie Panta

    Carson! How could that be possible!

    You are hereby sentenced to go to netflix and watch THE LONG GOODBYE.

    Then – Read the script: by Leigh Brackett

    http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~ina22/splaylib/Screenplay-Long_Goodbye,_The_(1972).pdf

    “The plot is too convoluted” — That’s the whole point! Even Howard Hawks who directed the Big Sleep admitted he didn’t know who killed the chauffeur!

    It is so rare that I read the screenplay for a thriller without finding some word, phrase, group of adjectives, or idiom that is completely from Chandler, whether the writer knows it or not. Especially if the describe cigarette smoke or the way the smile curled up on a woman’s face. Or how a driver is being followed by another car.

    Raymond Chandler’s Letter to Alfred Hitchcock re: Strangers on the Train

    “What I cannot understand is your permitting a script which after all had some life and vitality to be reduced to such a flabby mass of clichés, a group of faceless characters, and the kind of dialogue every screen writer is taught not to write—the kind that says everything twice and leaves nothing to be implied by the actor or the camera”

    http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/01/flabby-mass-of-cliches.html

    • mulesandmud

      My god that letter is wonderful. Not many people in the world ever earn the right to dress down Big Al about crime stories. Go get’em, Ray!

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Eliminate the motive.

        • ximan

          OT: Kinda digging your novel thus far. Don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do pick it up, I’m pretty engrossed.

          I’ll send you my notes when I have enough to send :)

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Thanks!

      • drifting in space

        Check out how long that first sentence of the letter is. Sheesh!

        • brenkilco

          So Henry Jamesian that he feels the need to apologise for it, and he apologises for it in the middle of the sentence. LOL

          • Linkthis83

            I too appreciated him calling himself out on it.

          • drifting in space

            So great.

        • Eddie Panta

          Freakin nailed it didn’t he. Meanwhile, the film he’s tearing apart is considered a crime classic, these exact same struggles are going on right now. That’s the letter everyone wants to write.
          The craft of screenwriting was not yet even fully formed when he wrote that letter.

          • Linkthis83

            I related it to one poster commenting to another on here (without designating anyone on here as Chandler or HItchcock). Simply just stating their beliefs. And for this letter, we now have historical context to put it in. It might be a classic, but the reason it’s a classic doesn’t mean that’s how Hitchcock intended it.

    • Wes Mantooth

      A script “written in skim milk.” LOL. Even in scathing missives Chandler could throw in a great line.

    • Citizen M

      I finally saw Strangers on a Train a couple of months ago.

      I couldn’t believe how bad it was. The plot is laughable. No one in their right mind would get involved in such a stupid scheme. And the execution is so melodramatic as to be almost a parody. The final scenes in the fairground were just awful. It is the worst movie Hitchcock ever made, IMHO.

      • brenkilco

        Yes, the script is somewhat contrived. But Walker is brilliant. And for the time the execution is extraordinary The stalking at the fairgrounds, the cross cutting between the tennis match and the sewer, the merry go round struggle. Watch it again.

  • Eddie Panta

    For those of you who are googling things to figure out whether or not this story here “Marlowe” has any basis in reality, or could of possibly taken place — It simply does NOT matter.

    Look at the screenplay that won the 2013 Austin Film Festival Darkwoods horror script competition.

    Logline: While in Los Angeles in 1927 to seek financing for his first sound motion picture, a young Alfred Hitchcock is accused of murder and must go on the run to prove his innocence.

    This didn’t really happen! What difference does it make it’s all made up or partially based on truth?

    Troy Anthony Miller Winner, 2013 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition Darkwoods Productions Horror/Thriller Award for “THE HITCH”

    Achievements for “The Hitch”:
    Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition 2013 – WINNER Darkwoods Productions Horror/Thriller Award,FINALIST for Enderby Entertainment “Best Movie Under $5 Million” category, SEMI-FINALIST for WGA Drama Award
    Table Read My Screenplay Competition 2013 – WINNER, Best Thriller
    The Page Screenplay Competition 2013 – FINALIST, Best Thriller
    Final Draft Big Break Screenplay Competition 2013 – QUARTER-FINALIST

    • wlubake

      Totally agree. I was just looking for her research trail, is all. I WANT to believe in Sam Marlowe.

    • Eddie Panta

      The real question, not answered by the Carson’s review, or google, is whether or not you should attempt to write a screenplay based on a “character” you don’t own the rights to.

      What if the script was amazing… now what? How would begin to obtain the IP?

      Whether the story of Saving Mr. Banks was true or imagined it was still written without the consent of Disney. If they didn’t go for it, it would of never been made.

      THE RAVEN – MOVIE 2012 -When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality.

      So the real questions here is how much time and energy should you put into a script or story about a character that you don’t have the rights to. There are a ton of screenwriters who are out there doing it, whether it’s fan fiction, or a book they love. Writers want to do it in a way that is NOT a bio pic.

  • Nicholas J

    I haven’t read much of it yet, but it reads very smooth so far. And by the sound of Carson’s review, the story seems to be on par as well.

    But I have to wonder, is there are market for this type of movie anymore? The classically styled film noir? It’s really not my thing, so I can’t say for sure, but I feel like there probably isn’t.

    Not without a new spin like in BRICK or a more contemporary story like in BASIC INSTINCT. Just my two cents.

    • wlubake

      I think it better get Oscar buzz to make money. Especially if you are paying Denzel.

  • brenkilco

    I found the script more enjoyable than any other that I have read on Amateur Friday. First I like the way the writer writes. Sharp, clear, generally evocative. None of the artificially breathless, confused half finished sentences you get in so many of these scripts. Second, I loved the backgrounds. The writer did a lot of heavy lifting in researching the period. From the details of the death of Paul Bern to the Bunker Hill Tram to the MGM lot to the Bradbury Building he puts you convincingly inside the city of angels in the late 30’s(BTW is the wonderful Bradbury Building the most utilized real world interior in movie history? Everything from The Outer Limits to Blade Runner has utilized it, and when James Garner played Marlowe in the sixties he had his office there.)

    And the writer has obviously spent time studying Chandler. The disparate plot strands that become progressively more intertwined until they come together. A lot of effort has been put into the construction. Also like the in joke references i.e Marlowe saying he doesn’t like his own manners, Tom Bradley as a patrolman. Yes, they’ll go by many in the audience but they’re still fun.

    Now it isnt perfect. The freeway, civic corruption elements are a little too close to L.A. Confidential but the plot is generally good. Of course it may depend a little too much on coincicdence. Marlowe just happens to be hired to collect Jean Harlow who just happens to be the owner of land that just happens really belong to his secretary. But I bought most of it. And there are scenes where characters volunteer too much information to Marlowe. Mannix wouldnt be discussing the details of Bern;s death with him and Bello surely wouldnt have told him about Harlow’s abortion. I also think the dialogue could use a polish. It’s serviceable but sometimes a little too on the nose. Chandler wrote fabulous dialogue so the writer attempting an homage needs to step up.

    My big suggestion would be about the house/farm. Its location in the Arroyo is your big reveal and should be concealed as long as possible. It would be great if you could somehow reveal its location visually instead of in dialogue. And the story should ideally be structured so that once we know the location everything suddenly snaps into place. If I knew how to do it, Id tell you.

    Anyway, great job. Professional grade job. And keep revising. Because you’ve got something special here.

  • crazdwritr

    can someone send me demolition script at movigurl@me.com

    • gazrow

      Tried sending it to email you posted. Got message saying delivery failed – email not recognized?

  • S_P_1

    The basis for this particular review doesn’t add up. Prior reviews by Carson are highlighted in bold.

    The Lego Movie

    We have clear goals/stakes/urgency (stop the villain/world will be
    super-glued together if you don’t/only hours left before the villain
    enacts his plan). It’s all laid out how you’d expect it to be. Which was
    why I was never all in. I think you guys believe that I’m about
    following rules all the time. Not true. You follow rules MOST of the
    time, then break them strategically in certain spots, in ways that will
    separate your script from everything else out there. If you follow EVERY
    rule, your script is going to be predictable and (probably) boring.

    But the creativity kind of stopped there. Seeing things leap in the air,
    then be turned into something else – that’s cool the first couple of
    times. Then it becomes “been there done that.” Then there was the story,
    which, while well-executed, never got past the amusing stage (at least
    for me). It was fun. But never rip-roaring funny. It was exciting, but
    never “Holy shit! I’ve never seen that before!” And I think if you have a
    lego movie, you should see some things you’ve never seen before. Who
    knows, maybe they’ll have added this in the final cut. It just wasn’t
    here in this draft.

    Carson had multiple reservations about this script and it still ranked.
    [x]worth the read

    Transcendence

    This is not the first time I’ve seen this idea. In fact, I’ve seen
    people trying to crack this story (or stories like it) for awhile.

    Conflict within characters is always good!!!

    But on top of that, Paglen created conflict BETWEEN the characters, specifically in that Max loved Evelyn. So his choices were never easy either.

    Plot only interests a reader so much. It’s the people within that plot
    that truly draw us into a story. If those people don’t have anything
    interesting going on between each other, then who gives a shit?

    The script also reminded me that a good writer can take his time getting
    into his blockbuster. Paglen doesn’t hit us with anything huge right
    away. He builds slowly.

    The only reservations I have about the script are logic-related.

    Carson acknowledges an over-familiarity with the subject matter.
    He highlights the importance of character conflict.
    A good writer is allowed to slowly build story momentum.
    His only reservation is script logic.

    Final ranking
    [xx] worth the read

    Throughout the entire script of Marlowe there’s character conflict. The script starts fast out the gate. There are no logic gaps in Marlowe.

    Mortdecai

    To describe Aronson’s script is tough. It’s kind of like 1 part Sherlock
    Holmes, 2 parts Pink Panther, 3 parts Coen Brothers. The writing on
    display is very good, yet it isn’t afraid to moronify itself to Dumb
    & Dumber levels if necessary. For example, there are roughly 718,000
    references to the main character’s mustache.

    That’s another thing I liked about Mortdecai. It kept you guessing. And I
    believe these art thrillers are predicated on keeping you guessing. You
    must constantly surprise the audience. Remember, a thriller is supposed
    to do just that. THRILL. That doesn’t always mean thrill with a car
    chase or a shootout. It could mean using a reversal, a surprise, or a
    shocking reveal. When we find out, for example, that the painting was in
    Nazi hands and has a secret code embedded in it, we’re more than
    satisfied. This the kind of fun we came for.

    Finally worth noting is that Mortdecai uses a time tested tool that
    rarely malfunctions. That is, of course, George Lucas’s favorite device,
    the MacGuffin! This is when you place one very important thing out
    there in your story THAT EVERYBODY WANTS. And then everybody goes after
    it. The reason the MacGuffin works so well is because it immediately
    makes every character ACTIVE.

    First Carson references four movies just to describe the general idea of the script. Then states the script flips back and forth between thriller and comedy.
    Next Carson plays up the roller coaster Thrill ride the script provides with the over-abused trope NAZI’s.
    Finally the inclusion of the macguffin.

    The macguffin in Marlowe was the house in Arroyo Seco. It motivated all
    the characters decisions and yet the house itself held no value.
    Something else must be going on.

    This script earned [xx]worth the read off of redundant descriptions of a mustache and an over-abused trope NAZI’s.

    Seed

    If I have any issue with Seed is that it’s unapologetically formulaic. I
    mean, there are strong and unique choices made here, as I mentioned.
    But the way the story evolves and the way it sits squarely within its
    pigeon-holed genre, it feels a teensy bit generic.

    This is Carson’s gut analysis and it still earned.

    [xx]worth the read

    F/V Mean Tide

    One of the frustrating things about reading so much material is getting
    bored with so much material. Everybody’s pretty much writing the same
    stuff with the same characters with the same plots. It starts to depress
    you actually! But after awhile, you start to realize that you’re part
    of the problem. If all you’re going to read are sci-fi scripts and
    thrillers and rom-coms, you’re not going to find much variety in the
    writing. If you want to experience something unique, you have to take
    chances, read some offbeat things that don’t necessarily sound like slam
    dunks. Personally, I’ve never heard of a script based on lobster
    fishing, so I said, “Hell,” why not.

    So did the big risk pay off? Did reading a script/pilot that I would normally never read result in reading euphoria?

    Not exactly. But that doesn’t mean I regret reading Mean Tide.

    But for the most part – it doesn’t matter what the setting or idea is.
    If you write great characters, people will enjoy your script (or movie,
    or TV show).

    But the story never really built enough. It kind of stayed at an even
    keel. And there was this annoying voice over from Matt that ran
    throughout the entire script that was totally unnecessary.

    There’s no question Cahill is a good writer but this pilot is missing
    something and I’m having a tough time figuring out what that is. Is it
    that the concept’s too small? Are we missing a twist or a big plot point
    to give the middle section a jolt? That may be it because I was never
    really surprised by where the script went. I felt like I was ahead of
    it.

    Nearly every compliment was married to a critique. There were more negative points brought out than good. And yet…..

    [x]worth the read

    Turn (AMC)

    It’s Connecticut, 1778. Now my history is a little rusty. But I thought that was 2 years after American gained independence.

    I’ll stop right there. This script earned.

    [xx]worth the read

    4/18/14 review on Marlowe

    When I realized that Chandler was going to be a selling point of the
    story, I was worried. There aren’t too many people around with a healthy
    memory of the 30s, and with this being such a youth-obsessed town,
    selling stories to a youth-obsessed audience, I wondered if a movie from
    that time could drum up any interest.

    1778………….1930 somebody help me understand. 1778 is more familiar to today’s youth.

    All You Need is Kill (Edge of Tomorrow)

    It also seemed a little over-concepty for Hollywood. A movie about
    aliens attacking earth is common. A time travel movie is common. But
    this script went ahead and bundled the two together. Typically when I
    run into scripts like this, or try and push scripts like this up the
    ladder, producers say the same thing – “There’s too much going on here.”

    Two over-abused tropes in sci-fi earned.

    [x]impressive

    Chef and Demolition

    Earned

    [xx]worth the read
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    My end point is this I’ll go to bat for a good script.

    Anytime a good script gets a bad review it Deserves a Second Evaluation.

    Ransil your script deserved better.

    • Casper Chris

      Nearly every compliment was married to a critique. There were more negative points brought out than good. And yet…..

      [x]worth the read

      I shouldn’t have to tell you, but not all negative points are made equal. Reviewing scripts is not an exact science.

    • Linkthis83

      I believe each script/story is its own entity. You can’t take critiques and apply them consistently across the board. And sometimes, we just can’t hone in on why we feel they way we do, but we still try. Plus, Carson doesn’t claim to be an expert. He’s just giving us his take on these things based on his experiences, knowledge, and preferences. This is all subjective. Every bit of it.

      I personally feel that when he says that a script “deserves to be read” or some compliment equal to this, it deserves a better rating than [x] wasn’t for me.

      Because then the goal for our scripts that are featured here have to fit into the categories of “a script ready for sale” AND “a script/story Carson loves”.

      So even if I were somehow to get a script to read professionally (or at least close anyway), I still have to write a STORY he likes or loves to get a better rating. This is where I disagree. I think if a script looks/reads professional and story is there and told well, it should get a designation that acknowledges it. Even if it’s just:

      [x] wasn’t for me, worth the read

      However, this is his site. It would be like me coming into his house and telling him where he should put his furniture. So, it’s on us to push for the changes we want, but also to be able to put things into the proper context.

      Man, I had more to say than I realized. My apologies.

      • S_P_1

        I believe each script/story is its own entity. You can’t take critiques
        and apply them consistently across the board. And sometimes, we just
        can’t hone in on why we feel they way we do, but we still try.

        I’ll keep that in mind.

        Letting this script slip through the cracks is a mistake IMO.

        My other primary concern is if a writer of this caliber doesn’t get a single worth the read, then where is the high bar of achievement set at?

        I sincerely believe this script deserves a second look.

        • drifting in space

          Sometimes I feel like Carson only rifles through everything here in hopes of finding the next Disciple Program.

          • S_P_1

            Carson does seem to give sci-fi scripts the benefit of the doubt.

          • Casper Chris

            It’s his favorite genre.

            “Wasn’t for me” does have a built-in subjectivity disclaimer.

        • Linkthis83

          I’m actually glad you replied. I re-read Carson’s review and what is interesting is that all the things he’s talking about feel more professional script related. Not Amateur Friday issues. I think that’s a pretty important distinction.

          Plus in this critique he focuses on the story and because it wasn’t crisper to him, it got the rating it did. I think this script may fall more under the designation I wish existed. This script/story didn’t suffer from the majority of AF issues. In fact, it was done so well that he could focus on story alone. I think that’s a big win for this writer. And I completely understand why you would make the original post you did. Plus, I love seeing people stand up for scripts/stories they believe in. I think that’s important too.

          • S_P_1

            That’s another good point you brought up zero AF issues. Maybe another ranking is in order.

            One that doesn’t have a negative connotation but is between wasn’t for me and worth the read.

          • MaliboJackk

            If Carson thinks a script has a professional quality about it, I think he could state that in the review.

            Would hate to see him pass out gold and silver stars for lacking AF issues.

            Full Disclosure: Didn’t read enough to feel qualified to comment on the script. (Especially since some people seemed to like it.)

          • Linkthis83

            Yea, I don’t want the stars either. When White Label was reviewed Carson talked about the quality of the script and how it deserved to be read. It still got the rating [x] wasn’t for me.

            That just doesn’t sit well with me. That’s why I’d want just one more rating in there. To show it’s a quality script but isn’t from him. Because I’m sure some people go right to the rating first to see if they should read the article or not. I just want writers to get some credit, if they deserve it, in the rating.

  • jw

    I think the script sounds promising, but one thing I will say is that, as writers, be knowledgeable of what is happening around you in the writing world. Look at something like LA Noir, WHITE JAZZ, and ask yourself why with a few big names hovering it isn’t being made? Carson touches on this point of what Hollywood makes and why and I think it’s a decent point to be made. I say ‘write what you love’ but at the same time be realistic about its prospects in the marketplace. I love my script ‘The Forest Brothers’ but it’s a post-WWII look at the people of Estonia who flocked to the forests to survive the Russians, so am I kidding myself at all thinking this would get made without Edward Zwick? Not in the least. #keepitreal

    • brenkilco

      Well, Gangster Squad got made. And that was a pretty lame, unfocused script. I think their are a lot of actors who want to be in something where they get to wisecrack and wear a fedora.

      • jw

        Touche! With star power out the ass, nonetheless.

  • Eddie Panta

    THis quote from Bret Easton Ellis on the influence of Chandler should answer Carson’s questions about the dense plot in the script here

    Ellis’s biggest influence in the course of writing Imperial Bedrooms was American novelist Raymond Chandler, “and that kind of pulpy noir fiction”. He found inspiration in Chandler because “He didn’t even know how some of his books ended. That’s part of what makes those books existentialist masterpieces.” To Ellis, “It’s about a journey and a tone and style and this worldview he created.”
    In terms of his own plotting, however, he opined that “plots really don’t matter”, nor solutions to mysteries, because it’s “the mood that’s so enthralling… [a] kind of universal, this idea of a man searching for something or moving through this moral landscape and trying to protect himself from it, and yet he’s still forced to investigate it.”

    • brenkilco

      The whole subject of Chandler and plotting is pretty interesting. He had a difficult time coming up with plots. In fact, when it came time for him to start writing novels he would take 3 or four of his short stories and sort of magically twist them together. So tightly that they seem like organic plots. But if it sometimes seems that elements of his books fail to connect at key points, it’s because they don’t.

  • MaliboJackk

    OT
    The Writer’s Store Industry Insider contest winner was announced.
    Will we get to read those first 15 pages?

    • Eddie Panta

      Ha! Doubt it.
      But that’s a great question. The fact that these competitions never release any pages is more than a little messed up.
      But I do understand the reason why as a writer you wouldn’t want your “winning pages ” shown. If you’ve won or placed well in one of these competitions, not having any pages online gives more incentive to a interested party to contact you directly.

      Still, I don’t understand why the competition sites don’t put up pages from older winning scripts, let’s say three to five years ago.
      I think these competitions need to have more transparency as to how many submissions they receive and what system they have for the initial reads.
      But that’s an old story.

      • drifting in space

        You can download the first 15 of the top 10 on the site.

        • Eddie Panta

          Oh that’s good to know, I’m not really familiar with that contest.
          Most others don’t seem to release any pages.

          • Kirk Diggler

            The winner of the Randall Wallace contest left me scratching my head.

          • drifting in space

            A lot of them leave me feeling the same way.

          • Kirk Diggler

            It almost makes me feel the contests are rigged by insiders. Hate to say that. The only reason i didn’t read all of the Top 10 was because I was bored by the few I decided to read, and the logline was nowhere in sight, which really bugged me.

          • drifting in space

            Yeah, that seems to be the same issues I had. The only TRUE winner to me is the Disciple Program, which followed the logline to a fault.

          • Eddie Panta

            Where did you find the link?

          • Kirk Diggler

            I don’t remember. I think I had to send them my email or something and then they sent me a DL in the reply.

        • MaliboJackk

          Cool.

          • gazrow

            Yeah – me too.

          • Linkthis83

            I’m in total disbelief of the one they selected for the winner. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it. I checked out early in that one.

        • Midnight Luck

          they sent me the link to download the top 10 and the link doesn’t work. Has it worked for anyone else?

          • MaliboJackk

            Had the same problem with the link on the WS site.

          • Linkthis83

            Sent you the document.

          • Midnight Luck

            glad to hear it wasn’t just my computer messing with me.
            Not sure why they send out emails telling you it contains the scripts, but include faulty links for everyone. now that’s amateur.

          • Linkthis83

            Hey MJ. Did you get the Industry Insider document I sent? Just curious since I didn’t hear from you.

          • Linkthis83

            Sent

          • Midnight Luck

            thanks, really awesome of you.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Which logline contest is this one?

          • Linkthis83

            The Roger Avary one”

            “Three neurotic hit-men, each with troubled pasts, are separately enlisted by a highly secretive client to assassinate each other.”

            If you want it let me know. The document contains the first fifteen pages of the ten completed scripts – it’s not the entries that got them into the top ten.

          • Kirk Diggler

            acshelby01@yahoo.com

            Thanx in advance

    • Kirk Diggler

      I have a PDF of the First 15 of the Top Ten in the Randall Wallace contest, if anyone wants it.

      • MaliboJackk

        Cool. I’ll take a look.
        malibujackk at gmail dot com

        • Kirk Diggler

          Sent

      • Logline_Villain

        If you could send me pdf of same, I’d greatly appreciate it, Kirk. Sakhwood13@aol.com

      • Thee_Boz

        Thanks Kirk, thee.boz@gmail.com

  • brenkilco

    Well imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And the conceit of having Chandler as a character aside, this isn’t just flattering. It’s downright reverential. Think old Ray would be fine with it.

    BTW it’s no different than John Huston including Rudyard Kipling as a character in his version of The Man Who Would Be King. And I’ve never heard that anyone thought Kipling was being dissed because it appeared he was just going to write down a story someone else told him.

  • leitskev

    I didn’t even give a thought as to whether Chandler would be offended. Why would I? It’s a fictional story. If Chandler were to be pleased or displeased, I would think he’d more worry about how his character came across in the script. But how would that be any different from any other famous character portrayed in story?

  • mulesandmud

    I was a little less offended than you by the slight to Chandler (movies have done plenty worse to him before), but I agree that it’s tricky to find a balance here between homage, revision, and outright distortion.

    On the other hand, what wonderful serendipity that there was a real life Marlowe in the same town as Chandler at the time that he was writing his Marlowe! Even moreso because this real Marlowe was black, which adds a racial dynamic to the hard-boiled detective that wouldn’t be properly incorporated into the genre until decades later, most notably in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels. I’d like to think that a story could take advantage this coincidence while respecting everyone involved, and without turning Marlowe into a Play-It-Again-Sam style figment, which ignores the fortuity of Sam Marlowe’s existence.

    What if the meeting between Chandler and (Sam) Marlowe were played less as Chandler’s inspiration for his character, and more as simply a stranger-than-fiction encounter between an author and a detective who, insanely, just happens to have the same name as Chandler’s character? In that version, Chandler has already been writing his stories for years, so this is an oddball coincidence that neither man quite knows what to do with, made all the weirder when Sam and Ray get caught up in an actual mystery together. That way, you skirt the authorship question but keep the postmodern twist, which would play out as a sort of only-in-LA magical realism instead of an explanation for where Chandler got his ideas.

    [Of course, this is all moot if L.M. Ransil has in fact found proof that Sam Marlowe was Chandler’s inspiration. Chandler has always been a bit cagey about the basis for Philip Marlowe, so I guess it’s just barely possible. Would be a total bombshell for American lit, though.]

    • brenkilco

      Don’t know how or where a suburban oil company executive – Chandler till his drinking got him the axe- would have run across a black P.I. who seems to have spent his free time in African American social organizing. Pretty certain it’s just a cool coincidence. Don’t believe Marlowe was even the author’s first choice for the character’s name. wasn’t he Mallory or something is some of the short stories? Think Chandler just liked literary English monikers.

      • mulesandmud

        Agree that it’s probably a coincidence, but give Chandler a little credit: the man got around. (See also: ‘The Long Embrace’, a great recent book on Chandler which mostly focuses on the places he lived and the women he dated.) It’s plausible that the two men might have crossed paths or known of each other; I wouldn’t be surprised if Chandler flipped through the phone book to see if there were any detectives named Marlowe in town, the same way that we might google a title to see if it’s taken. (Reminds me of the uber-meta detective novel ‘City of Glass’.)

        And yeah, Chandler wrote at least one story with a detective named Mallory; maybe one of them even worked its way into the Big Sleep? He was injecting literary names into his work as a matter of principle, part of his attempt to legitimize hard-boiled fiction.

        For a moment, I actually suspected that the real Sam Marlowe might have gotten his name FROM Chandler’s character, maybe changing his own name to capitalize on Chandler’s success and boost his P.I. business. But the obit suggests that Sam’s actual family name was Marlowe, so there.

        • brenkilco

          As you appear to be a fan, I would recommend, if you haven’t read it and can find it, the published screenplay of The Blue Dahlia. It contains an essay length introduction from producer John Houseman, and the story of the movie’s production is quite a trip. Chandler was a one of a kind talent, but he had some really serious issues.

          • mulesandmud

            Awesome. Will do. Thanks!

  • leitskev

    Such anger. I don’t get it. Different spin is put on famous fictional characters and stories all the time. Shakespeare, Homer, Dickens, Poe, Lovecraft, Disney…done over and over. Life is short. Stop worrying about what a guy who’s been dead for decades thinks. Odds are he would be thrilled that he and his characters are getting attention, but odds certainly are that he has no bloody idea it’s happening.

  • mulesandmud

    In a version where Chandler had already invented his character before meeting Sam, one’s race would have no effect on the other’s race. The two exist autonomously; that one is black and one is white is purely a matter of happenstance, as it likely was in real life.

    In theory, the script’s racial politics are a nice fit with hard-boiled fiction in general, though of course you’re right that a story should be written in a way that respects the realities of its period.

    If you haven’t read any Walter Mosley, I highly recommend it. Most stories are set post-WW2, but are still extremely relevant to what you’re saying. His black detective lives in Watts at a time when it was an aspirational suburb, and he finds a degree of social mobility in the freelance, off-the-grid life of a black private eye that sometimes lets him walk between the raindrops, and other times drops him smack into the the heart of white privilege.

  • astranger2

    Well, it’s like the I Want to Fuck Your Sister (or whatever that title is). As amateurs trying to get noticed, do we need to tweak our titles to make them more titillating? To maximize our chances? A great logline will most likely get you a read — do we need to do the same with the titles? Just wondering. And, Driving Miss Crazy is… a crazy ass good title…

  • tokyoYR

    My biggest and main thought is that this script borrows a lot from Chinatown. A lot. A lot a lot.

  • brenkilco

    Well, we’ll agree to disagree. By the way despite all the Vlad the Impaler stuff you hear, I’ve read that the character of Dracula was actually based on Bram Stoker’s boss, actor-manager Henry Irving. Must have been an interesting guy.

  • leitskev

    BTW. Though I never had time to go back and read deeply into the script, I thought your opening scene with the artist and the benefactor in your story was brilliant. And I rarely say that about a script.

  • astranger2

    Sounds better than Identity Thief which did phenomenally well. That movie was one long chase scene which drove the story and GSU — but I didn’t find it that funny. It did a great job demonstrating, however, how to make an unlikable character, likable., Comedy is such a strange animal. Not sure if you’re being facetious here, but your story beats sound good and you could knock out a first draft in short order. Really does sound like a high concept idea with title and logline that could attract a nice buzz. Hope to see it reviewed here in a few months…

  • http://j.nelsonleith.com/ John Leith

    I only have two comments:

    1. I agree with you about Freddy. I’m all over the plot complexity of noir, but it works far better in novels than in film where audiences can quickly become lost. Using his murder as an emotional springboard, and tying it up at the end (without the distraction of the burial house) would probably work best.

    2. I would buy tickets to this film TODAY. If Denzel were cast in the lead, I’d invent a time machine so I could reserve tickets yesterday.

  • drifting in space

    You need to write this. Then take your golden goblet and Ferrari to some obscure coffee shop and write whatever you want.

  • astranger2

    Not that you need any suggestions as your opening funeral scene (insurance banter) is pretty choice — but somewhere I’m sure you’ll need McCarthy to drive Hart somewhere through heinous traffic because both his wrists are broken, or whatever. Maybe to stop his wife from taking the honeymoon cruise with her boss — or something. Regardless, you really should go for it.

  • peisley

    There’s some impressive writing in Marlowe. The author took the time to actually research and it shows. I’m also intrigued by the Arroyo Seco Canyon’s history as the first target of LA’s new freeway system. This has shades of Chinatown with land now being fought over instead of water. Marlowe is a black private detective caught in the middle of this gangster land grab. The logline doesn’t do justice to the promise of this script. If a new logline included these essentials, it would grab more attention.

    This is an ambitious work and I admire anybody willing to take on something of this scope. The atmosphere is in the ballpark and I’m left with a pretty good sense of what LA might’ve been like then. As Carson mentioned, though, by taking on so many angles, the story seems fragmented. The Arroyo Seco Canyon is the focal point, but Marlow doesn’t even visit the place until near the end. We have no visual reference until then. When he does get there, the scenes are the best ones in the entire script. It might be worth considering placing the majority of these scenes within the first twenty pages. The writing is freer and pops. This energy is missing in a lot of the earlier scenes.

    There’s also an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel, probably because it’s so tempting to plug in a lot of interesting stuff from your research. At times it reads like… hey’s there’s Billie Holliday and, oh, yeah, William Bradley would brag about being mayor someday. It’s more like they’re deliberate plants to spice things up a bit rather than anything relevant to what’s going on.

    Marlowe as the inspiration for Chandler’s character doesn’t bother me. That he’s actually black and has writing aspiration of his own has a cool irony. What’s not so cool is what this has to do with the main plot. One alternate take could be Chandler is the one who wants to find out what’s going on in the Canyon for his book and hires Marlowe to do the messy footwork. Neither one realizes the level of danger ahead. Chandler could “borrow” Marlowe’s way, even say he’s going to write a book about him only to later change it to a white guy. Ultimately, though, I wonder how essential Chandler is to the entire story.

    I like Marlowe, but he needs to keep his feelings to himself a little more. There’s a lot of him saying what he feels. He kind of whines a lot. I also don’t buy him employing Freddy to follow suspects when the kid’s simply not up to it. Freddy could do certain jobs, but not anything like that.

    This was a shameful period of racial intolerance and it’s no surprise how the racial slurs fly, but it would be worth considering having at least one white character (other than Chandler) who doesn’t have a problem with minorities, or, at least Marlowe. It would also be great if there was some more subdued racial prejudice shown.

    There’s some good work in some scenes, but quite a few of them either lack a build-up of tension or seem truncated, or both.

    The Harlow/Bern storyline is ok and I understand the link to Velma with the house in the Canyon but, again, it could be another case of trying to squeeze history in where it doesn’t want to go. You end up with it sounding more contrived than anything.

    A few technical issues. Marlowe is introduced on page one and should be described as African American there, not later. The audience will see him in this first scene.

    There’s a lot of dropping of the article at the beginning of sentences, primarily “the.” A reader may quit after seeing a few of these.

    I’d like to read a redraft when it’s done. There are people who find this period fascinating and I’m one of them. I wish you the best.

    • Louise Ransil

      What people seem to miss here is this was a real person who recounted his real life events. His family allowed me to go thru his files and shared their memories of him. Samuel B. Marlowe was an experienced detective when novice writer Raymond Chandler reached out to him for help. He definitely knew Raymond Chandler quite well. Marlowe claimed their shared experiences helped shape the Philip Marlowe character. At this point, who can say for sure? But it’s certainly an interesting idea.

      • peisley

        I agree, and do want to see more of what you can do with this idea. If you start with the logline, though, as written, there’s no mention of Marlowe being an actual person and that he’s African American. It just mentions P.I. Samuel Marlowe. Now, you know and I know that Chandler’s Marlowe has the first name Philip, but how many, especially younger, people out there know this? My first impression, not noticing the name, is that it’s some kind of fantasy twist where the fictional Marlowe has come to life to be Chandler’s muse. Also, as the reason for reading, you mention this is a true story. So, I have to ask. Are you referring to the Marlowe/Chandler relationship only or to the entire script? If you have access to actual case files and have used them here, then I’m totally jealous because that’s an awesome opportunity. Most likely, though (and I’d be happy to be proven wrong), the Marlowe/Chandler relationship is most likely true and the rest of the cases, while historically true, aren’t cases Samuel Marlowe worked on.

        I’m totally aware of and fine with writers taking the seed of truth and embellishing it with fiction. What I’d like to see is more of the Marlowe/Chandler relationship integrated with the larger story of the Arroyo Seco Canyon otherwise, Chandler is just perfunctory. Carson mentions how he’s either passed out or disappears a lot of the time. I’m also not seeing much of how Chandler is learning from Marlowe. He’s observing when he’s more sober, but he doesn’t seem to be assimilating much. Marlowe’s wanting to be a writer could be elaborated on more. Why can’t Marlowe get pissed off at Chandler for “borrowing” his manners and expertise when he’s not getting any brilliant insights about writing?

        Ultimately, though, as interesting as the idea about Samuel Marlowe being the inspiration for Philip Marlow may be, it’s not enough to hinge a whole screenplay on, but it’s a great opportunity for the dynamics of the characters over the entire script. Marlow and Chandler getting caught up in the Arroyo Seco Canyon mess is the story.

        I’d love to see what comes next. Good luck.

  • brenkilco

    Look, I liked the script. But true? I’ve suddenly shifted from curious to dubious. And I have this strange urge to call olly olly in free. There is no mention of this guy anywhere on the internet that I can find apart from an odd, unsourced trivia reference on IMDB that claims he was a confidante of both Chandler and Hammett, and an extra in King Kong to boot. I’ve read bios of Chandler and Hammett and never run across a reference to him. The obit that popped up on cue in the comments is on its own web page with nothing else and isn’t even an actual page from a paper but a cut and paste job. Please cure me of my cynicism and list a couple of the authoritative sources that persuaded you that this guy was real and that he really did know Chandler.

  • leitskev

    That sounds really interesting. Do you have a source I can find out more? I’ve read many of Chandler’s stories.

  • Louise Ransil

    Samuel B. Marlowe lived a full life, one that went way beyond Philip Marlowe’s solitary beat. Sam was an accomplished detective when novice writer, Raymond Chandler reached out to him for help. Their friendship endured for two decades. I heard about Sam thru his friends and family (some of whom met the author). Sam was a truly remarkable man who made an impression on everyone he knew.

    • Citizen M

      Finally got around to reading Marlowe after an Easter break. First impression is that it reads long despite being only 108 pages.

      This might be due to a stylistic choice. Writing sentences like “Window is being kicked out from inside.” Read it, and you realize something is missing, and have to expend extra mental effort to insert the two missing “the”s. (Just a theory.)

      This turns out to be a fairly typical noir script where at the end of the day there are very few heroes and the world is corrupt and comfortable with it.

      I’m not a fan of noir so I can’t give an informed opinion on this script. All I can say is it seemed as good as the few other noir scripts I’ve read.

      Like most noir scripts, I found it difficult to follow. I never knew what Marlowe was trying to accomplish at any one time. One had to just follow the story and hope it all becomes clear in the end. Which it did, sorta.

      The Chandler connection gives the story an extra layer of interest. I was happy with Chandler’s fairly minor role. One can’t expect much more from a frail, alcoholic writer.

      But Samuel B. Marlowe gave me problems. I can’t square the Marlowe of this script with the Marlowe of the obituary. That Marlowe is a missionary and a Black activist involved in politics and social upliftment NGOs. I’d expect someone far more sociable and politically deft than the script Marlowe. Not to mention he should talk like a Jamaican.

      I might have been more interested if the script had started with a card something like “Raymond Chandler learned about PI work from a real Marlowe, but a very different Marlowe from his fictional detective…” FADE UP to a Bible-punching teetotal black man giving an inspirational talk. And continue from there.

  • brenkilco

    I’m not criticizing him for not knowing about gene splicing or pre Columbian art. He’s writing a blog that critiques screenplays, which are, in the main genre fiction. So when I find out he’s utterly ignorant of one of the greatest and most imitated genre novelists ever. A guy whose works have been adapted a dozen times for the screen. A celebrated screenwriter responsible for writing classics for Wilder and Hitchcock. When I found that out, yeah, it gives me pause.

    Your point that we should be celebrating our host’s ignorance because it means his taste will more likely mirror those of a studio reader may at some level be legitimate. Pathetic but legitimate.