Philip Marlowe, Private Eye

HBO (ended 1986)


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  • The definitive on-screen Philip Marlowe

    Emmy Award winner Powers Boothe joined the club of actors who have played Raymond Chandler's legendary private detective Philip Marlowe with this 1980s HBO series. He stands in impressive company (Dick Powell, Humphrey Bogart, Danny Glover, Elliot Gould, James Caan and Robert Mitchum, among others), and it's a testament to his strengths as an actor that he is easily the best to take on the part.

    Of course, it helps to have such a strong series backing him up: a period piece that doesn't feel dated and one that is based on Chandler's short stories that continue to hold up today as great fiction. With behind the scenes talent including Peter Hunt (editor on the Sean Connery James Bond films and director of On Her Majesty's Secret Service) and titles by Maurice Binder (also of the 007 films), the production is top-notch all around. Throw in a cast of guest actors who can handle Chandler's purple prose dialogue and you have the makings for some excellent television.

    One wishes the entire Marlowe canon could have been tackled by this team, but on the plus side, we got filmed versions of some of the lesser known stories and get 11 hours of Powers Boothe breathing life into literature's most famous and influential private investigator. Recently, ABC's plan to produce a modern-day Marlowe series fell through. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Marlowe and Chandler belong to a certain time, and efforts to "soften" the character wouldn't be true. Philip Marlowe works because of who he is and how he acts, something the minds behind this series understood implicitly.