Few mystery writers or readers would question the influence that Raymond Chandler, left, has had on the genre.
His Philip Marlowe novels such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye and Farewell, My Lovely are classics that are still read today, as timely as ever for his insights into the human condition, his strong plotting and his beautiful prose.
Chandler's impact also translated to the movies with his contributions to the screenplays for Double Indemnity (written with Billy Wilder) and Strangers on a Train. (For trivia buffs, who knows in what scene Chandler appeared during Double Indemnity?)
His only original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia (1946). According to several sources, the author had not written an ending for the script but the studio wanted to rush the film's production because it was rumored that the star, Alan Ladd, might have to return to the Army. Chandler agreed to finish the script only if he was drunk, which producer John Houseman agreed to. Apparently this worked because the script earned Chandler's second Academy Award nomination for screenplays.
Clues to Chandler's legacy and his influence will be on display when a sale of books and papers from his personal collection are auctioned off Dec. 13 at Sotheby's in New York.
Among the items will be a first edition of The Big Sleep, inscribed to Chandler’s wife, Cissy, and a copy of The Big Sleep dedicated by Chandler to himself, with the inscription, “For me without my compliments.”
There also will be a copy of The Blue Dahlia script; a first edition of the James Bond novel Goldfinger, inscribed to Chandler by its author, Ian Fleming; and a copy of James M. Cain’s novel Three of a Kind, with a personal note from Cain.