Famous Fridays: Philip Marlowe February , 2011

Name: Philip Marlowe
Type of Detective: Private Investigator
First Appeared: 1939
Memorable Phrase: “My, my, my!”

Philip Marlowe is a famous fictional private investigator created by Raymond Chandler and featured in several hardboiled crime fiction novels such as The Big Sleep (1939), The Long Goodbye (1950) and Playback (1958).

In his early thirties, Marlowe is a thoughtful and morally sound detective who is not afraid to take big risks. Though his background information varies between publications, it is generally agreed upon that Marlowe was raised in an orphanage in Salt Lake City and held stints with an insurance company and the DA’s office before taking his business private. Eventually fired from the DA’s office for “talking back”, it is this tenacity and courage that makes him such a successful crime fighter.

Marlowe is a heavy smoker as well as a whiskey and coffee drinker, and these substances are often incorporated into Chandler’s storylines, which is very definitive of the time period in which they were published. Alcohol was something Marlowe used as a tool in order to get information out of witnesses and other stakeholders when investigating a case or doing an interrogation.

The very first drama series produced for HBO was Philip Marlowe, Private Eye and ran on the cable network from 1983-1986, as well as on BBC in the UK. Chandler’s titular character has also been mentioned in several songs over time, including Dire Straights’ “Private Investigations”. Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novel series character Dwight McCarthy is also said to be a modern interpretation of Marlowe.

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