Wednesday, January 18th, 2006
4:27 pm - Weather Report  
Man, we've been having some wild and wacky weather for the last week or so. It started off pretty nice last week when we got a three-day mini-March. Then Mama Nature decided March was over, and gave us an entire month's worth of warmish April showers on Saturday. Sunday we got a snow squall, and then Monday the temperature dropped down to sub-arctic levels, flash freezing all that moisture that was laying about. I had a helluva time opening the door on my truck Monday morning. Yesterday was very nice, cold but sunny, a typical January day, and I noticed that the sky still had a little light left in it when I left work. Today we have a reverse nor'easter going on, windy as all get out (but from the southwest), with heavy, horizontal rain. Can't wait to see what we get next.

In honor of the bad weather, I've been hunkering down and cooking large pots of comfort food. Saturday it was beef stew. Sunday, I'd got some ground beef on sale, put half aside for meat sauce, and made taco meat out of the rest for taco salad. Last night I poached a package of boneless chicken breasts in broth and wine. Now I have enough food leftover for a good long time.

Over Christmas, I bought the DVD of Murder My Sweet, the original movie version of Chandler's Farewell My Lovely, and since I'd never read the novel, I decided to do that first before watching the DVD. I'd seen the Robert Mitchum version of the book many years ago, so I knew how it would turn out, but it was interesting to see it on the page. First of all, it's a lot cruder than either movie, particularly when it comes to race relations, something isn't even mentioned in the films (really no surprise). There's also a female sidekick wannabe who Marlowe winds up with at the end, and whom I don't think we ever see again in any of the later books. I wonder if Chandler was considering going the Thin Man route with Marlowe and Riordan, then thought better of it? Plot wise, this may be Chandler's weakest book. There are a lot of distracting side stories, and although the climax is powerful, what happens after is pretty weak, with the final act occurring offstage. OTOH, the similes Marlowe uses in his descriptions are first rate, maybe the best in the series.

When they made the original movie, RKO ran into a little problem. Dick Powell played Marlowe, and up until then, his career had been all song and dance, so when the picture was first released under the title Farewell My Lovely, a lot of folks appently showed up thinking it was going to be another musical. Thus the name change. Powell turns out to be Marlowe exactly as I imagine him. I talked about this awhile back, but none of the actors I've seen play Marlowe, Bogart, Mitchum, or Elliot Gould(?!?), match my image of Marlowe. Powell does. Part of the problem may be because those other three actors are so distinctive in style that I'm always seeing them instead of Marlowe. Powell is kind of nondescript. He's handsome, but not overly so. He's the right size and build, and he looks good in a suit. He just looks and sounds like Marlowe. The movie changed his career, because he did mostly drama after it. I remember him from the Dick Powell Theatre, a drama anthology TV series in the early sixties that my mom liked. I also used to get him and William Powell mixed up back then, even though they look nothing alike.

The film is good, but there are some odd changes to the story. Plucky Anne Riordan is converted into the adult step-daughter of Helen Grayle. The whole side story about the gambling and police corruption in Bay City is gone (which is fine). The worst change is that in the end, someone other than Velma kills Moose, which really ruins the point of the book's ending. The casting is very good, although no one will ever be as smoking hot as Charlotte Rampling was in the Mitchum version.

I also finished Three at Wolfe's Door, a collection of Nero Wolfe novellas, one of which is the worst Wolfe mystery ever. The premise is that Lily Rowan invites a bunch of rodeo stars to her penthouse for a lasso competition on the terrace, and mayhem ensues. Stout goes way overboard on the rodeo lingo, and the solution to the mystery is totally pulled out of Wolfe's ass. I'm currently working on another Wolfe, Please Pass the Guilt.

Now the sun's out. Huh. Still windy, though.
 
 
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Sophia Brooks: buffybotsophiabrooks on January 18th, 2006 - 09:42 pm
Wow! I remember the Lily Rowan/lasso/mayhem novella. It was bad, and if I remember correctly a sort of late Wolfe book, and they alway confused me because Archie still seemed to be that same age as twenty years previously.
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DXMachinadxmachina on January 18th, 2006 - 09:53 pm
Yeah, it was written in the sixties. Stout made a point of never aging anybody, while letting time pass outside the brownstone.
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