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original title: Philip Marlowe, Private Eye
tags: He's the reason crime doesn't pay.
keywords: fingerman, frameup, 1930s, detective, coroner, corpse, millionaire, shakedown, primesuspect, patsy, nightclub, districtattorney, morphine, heroin, bodyguard, coverup, lawyer, killer, gaschamber, fedor
post-script: After writing this review, I discovered that the episodes are indeed available on DVD. What a great day I'm having! These remarks are limited and scope and concern the episode 'Finger- Man.' Powers Boothe is a quite likable actor, and the show is enjoyable, especially considering that in the waning years of the Reagan days American audiences were regaled with such gems as A-Team and Airwolf, so I wish to cast these criticisms with a bit of perspective. That being said, it's hard for me to watch this show because it gets a LOT of period details wrong. Hammett was writing his stories about the 1920s or even earlier, but Chandler set his in the 1930s and 1940s, but this series seems to confound the fashions of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Cars, furniture, clothing, hairstyles of these three periods are juxtaposed in one episode. One example among many: the fat rich ringleader in the episode is using a brass candlestick telephone; a guy with that much money, living ostentatiously in the mid to late nineteen- thirties would NEVER have used such a phone--they were totally passe by that time, it would be akin to using a 2 pound Motorola brickphone today instead of a couple of ounce millimeter thin smartphone. But clearly this kind of set-design is geared to average audiences who are clueless and will just swallow it and think 'gee! what a weird telephone!' Men's hair (too long in back) and ladies' styles also off, as are the mens' hats--and also how the hats are worn; you can just tell these modern actors probably NEVER wear hats, so when they wear them, they are telegraphing (at least to me); HELLO, I am an ACTOR WEARING a HAT see, THIS is the 1930s, I HAVE A HAT.' The interior of Marlowe's flat is also anachronistic; looks as if he has wall to wall carpet, which I've hardly ever seen during that period. Just a myriad of little details wrong, which, collectively, are a thorn in the eye. The gunfight was also almost laughably bad, both in how it was played and what happened. For example, a fellow doesn't get shot in the shoulder by a Colt .45 and not get knocked down, or react in some way. It's unfortunate that this series seems like it had almost all the makings of something pretty darn good--but ended up distinctly so-so; was it meant to be tongue-in-cheek, cartoonish? A dream-like evocation of the past, a little bit like the Singing Detective perhaps? Or did they have too little time, too little money, (or too much coke, after all, it was the eighties) and they figured, 'hey, this is America, HBO, and why take the trouble to cast pearls before swine?' Now, I did personally enjoy seeing the street scenes filmed on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, California, in the early 1980s, and if one looks carefully, one can see Carodin's dilapidated clothing store and the Deli on the corner of Fair Oaks, a now long-defunct era of Old Town Pasadena before it was plasticized, which, like Raymond Chandler's LA, is now gone forever.
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