LB: ‘When Raymond Chandler Went to Work for Billy Wilder’

LB’s NOTE: Here’s how the NYTimes subheading described this article by Edward Sorel when the paper published it last month:

Because, you know, otherwise the film aficionados who would be attracted by the headline wouldn’t want to continue reading. I’m not a fan of either of these great talents (although I certainly acknowledge that they were indeed great at what they did), but I thoroughly enjoyed the following:

by Edward Sorel

In the rat-infested trenches of France, Raymond Chandler became an alcoholic, and stayed one. In 1932, after booze had gotten him fired from a cushy job, he resolved to cut down on the gin and become a novelist. He began by selling hard-boiled detective yarns to the pulpy magazine Black Mask, then later sold his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” to Alfred A. Knopf. In 1943, Chandler’s third novel, “The High Window,” was read by the Paramount director Billy Wilder. He liked the way Chandler wrote dialogue, and offered him a contract of $750 a week for 10 weeks to work with him on a screenplay for “Double Indemnity,” James M. Cain’s novel. Chandler had never written for the screen, and didn’t like the idea of being subservient to a young Austrian-born Jew who had written dozens of screenplays in Berlin and Hollywood. But Chandler was broke, and had a sick wife to care for. He signed up….

Read it all at

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Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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