We’ve been enjoying “Classic Chandler,” BBC Radio 4’s series of dramatizations based on Raymond Chandler‘s seven published Philip Marlowe novels and Poodle Springs, the Marlowe novel left unfinished at the time of Chandler’s death that was completed decades later by Robert B. Parker, author of the popular series of Spenser detective novels.
We’ll admit that we’re not terribly sold on Toby Stephens‘ Marlowe,. He sounds a bit … insubstantial, to be honest, and his accent is all over the map (view the video below and see if you don’t agree). But that’s a relatively niggling point. The fact that Chander’s unparalleled work is being introduced to a new generation overrides any such objections we might be inclined to raise. Plus, it’s a kick to listen to the kind of radio dramas that once played such an important role in American popular culture but are now so rarely produced (we can’t help but wonder why the radio drama has continued to thrive in the UK and yet is all but extinct on this side of the pond).
The four novels that have already aired are available for listening, free of charge, at the Radio 4 web site, but we wouldn’t recommend putting off giving them a listen. Word is, the links to those free streams will soon come down. (If the links are already gone by the time you read this, the programs are available on CD at Amazon UK.)
The other four novels will air, as we understand it, in the fall.
Speaking of which, that’s one other complaint we have: Why not air the eight novels in the order they were published? Instead, Radio has so far aired, in order, The Big Sleep (the fist Marlowe novel), The Lady in the Lake (the fourth), Farewell, My Lovely (the second), and Playback (the seventh and final novel published during Chandler’s lifetime). It seems an odd choice to air these dramatizations out of order in this way. Playback, adapted from an unproduced Chandler screenplay, is considered by most observers the great writer’s weakest effort—he wasn’t at all well when he wrote it—so saving it and Poodle Springs for last certainly seems the better way to have gone.
But we’re pleased enough to see this series being presented, and we encourage the entire Cladrite community to pop over and give it a listen.