- article: Razing Cain with Chandler And Wilder: The Prometheus-Pandora Myth in "Double Indemnity"
- author(s): Robert Merrill & John L Simons
- journal: Texas Studies in Literature and Language (22/Dec/2014)
- issue: volume 56, issue 4, page 349
- journal ISSN: 0040-4691
- publisher: University of Texas at Austin (University of Texas Press)
- keywords: Academy Awards, Alfred Hitchcock, Awards & honors, Ben Hecht, Bernard F. Dick, British Film Institute, Cary Grant, Criticism and interpretation, Czenzi Ormonde, Dan Callahan, Double indemnity, Ed Sikov, Edith Head, Film adaptations, Frank Krutnik, Indemnity, Irving Pichel, James Naremore, James Stewart, Joan Copjec, Laura Mulvey, Marlene Dietrich, Miklós Rózsa, Mysteries, Paramount Pictures, Patricia Highsmith, Peter Lorre, Raymond Chandler, Richard Armstrong, Richard Schickel, Robert Montgomery, Screenplays, Screenwriters, Scripts, Strangers on a Train (1951), Warner Bros., Wendy Lesser, Works
During the eight lucrative but unhappy years Raymond Chandler worked as a Hollywood writer, he wrote or cowrote six screenplays which were made into movies. Surprisingly, he was approached to adapt only one of the Philip Marlowe novels which had made him famous. Chandler's finest screenplay -- coauthored with Billy Wilder -- as an adaptation of James M. Cain's 1936 "roman noir", Double Indemnity (1944), for Paramount Pictures. Chandler's hiring was ironic; it was his first attempt at screenwriting, and he detested Cain's fiction. Chandler's violent distaste for Cain's novels must have sparked something, however, for his work on Double Indemnity far surpassed anything he was to do thereafter as a scenarist. According to biographer Frank MacShane, Paramount next recruited Chandler to polish the dialogue on two plodding scripts for movies now virtually forgotten: a melodrama, And Now Tomorrow (1944), and an obscure mystery, The Unseen (1945). Both projects exasperated Chandler because their directors, Irving Pichel and Lewis Allen, respectively, omitted so much of the dialogue he had carefully crafted.