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More than any other writer, Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) is responsible for raising detective stories from the level of pulp fiction to literature. Chandler’s hard-boiled private eye Philip Marlowe set the standard for rough, brooding heroes who managed to maintain a strong sense of moral conviction despite a cruel and indifferent world . Chandler’s seven novels, including The Big Sleep (1939) and The Long Goodbye (1953), with their pessimism and grim realism, had a direct influence on the emergence of film noir. Chandler worked to give his crime novels the flavor of his adopted city, Los Angeles, which was still something of a frontier town, rife with corruption and lawlessness. In addition to novels, Chandler wrote short stories and penned the screenplays for several films, including Double Indemnity (1944) and Strangers on a Train (1951). His work with Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock on these projects was fraught with the difficulties of collaboration between established directors and an author who disliked having to edit his writing on demand. Creatures of Darkness is the first major biocritical study of Chandler in twenty years. Gene Phillips explores Chandler’s unpublished script for Lady in the Lake , examines the process of adaptation of the novel Strangers on a Train, discusses the merits of the unproduced screenplay for Playback , and compares Howard Hawks’s director’s cut of The Big Sleep with the version shown in theaters. Through interviews he conducted with Wilder, Hitchcock, Hawks, and Edward Dmytryk over the past several decades, Phillips provides deeper insight into Chandler’s sometimes difficult personality. Chandler’s wisecracking Marlowe has spawned a thousand imitations. Creatures of Darkness lucidly explains the author’s dramatic impact on both the literary and cinematic worlds, demonstrating the immeasurable debt that both detective fiction and the neo-noir films of today owe to Chandler’s stark vision.

In his exhaustively researched survey of Raymond Chandler’s thorny relationship with Hollywood during the classic period of film noir, Gene Phillips goes down some of the same mean streets as earlier commentators but fills in the gritty details that many of them missed. . . . A comprehensive introduction to America’s foremost mystery writer. -- Alain Silver

An opulent repository of material on the premier American noirist. -- Choice

Apart for being an impressively erudite book, Creatures of Darkness is also a balanced one. -- Film Quarterly

Welcome to the world of Raymond Chandler, film noir, and scholarship. -- Kirkus Reviews

Phillips constantly dazzles with both the precision of his presentation and the power of his analysis. -- Lester Keyser

A scholarly text of the highest caliber in terms of information and readability. Film noir and hard-boiled detective fiction enthusiasts of all levels of knowledge will find the book not only captivating, informative, and accessible, but a pure, page-turning delight. -- Literature Film Association News

An excellent overall job, highly recommended to fans and scholars of Chandler alike. -- Mystery Scene Magazine

Phillips explores every nook and cranny of Chandler’s unhappy Hollywood years—including his well-known clashes with fellow egoists Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock. -- Tucson Weekly

Valuable. -- Wall Street Journal

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Raymond Chandler, Film noir, Detective fiction, Detective movies


Film and Media Studies

Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir
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