The Gold Standard: How the movies -- past and present -- changed our lives
Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” took Connelly to his current L.A. address on High Tower Drive in Hollywood. “I saw the film in college and it led me to Raymond Chandler and made me want to be a writer,” says the bestselling author of “Blood Work” and the current “Echo Park,” which finds Harry Bosch back in action.
After toiling as a copy editor at the L.A. Times, Connelly was eventually able to rent the High Tower Drive apartment that Elliott Gould’s Philip Marlowe kept in the 1973 noir. “Altman filmed it there, and the (cigarette) match scratches are still on the bedroom wall,” he says. Out of respect, Connelly and previous tenants didn’t dare paint over the evidence.
If he retains a “sentimental attachment” to “The Long Goodbye,” Connelly calls “Chinatown” his absolute favorite detective yarn: “It is steeped in the myth of Los Angeles and the fix: Jake Gittes is the last guy to know what’s going on. Noah Cross pulls all the strings. And that would be ‘the fix’ to me.”
In “Echo Park,” Connelly gives a “nod to ‘Chinatown,’ ” he reveals. “The mystery of ‘Echo Park’ is there at the end. Same with ‘Chinatown.’ You never get to Chinatown until the last 10 minutes of the film.”
Connelly has no complaints on what Hollywood did to his novel “Blood Work.”
“Clint Eastwood was 25 years older than the guy in the book, but it was fun. He did a good job of capturing the character,” says the scribe, who remains philosophical on the subject of movie adaptations: “If you take their money, it’s their turn to tell the story.”
Crime-wise, Connelly admires what he saw at the movies in 2006: “In ‘The Departed,’ I liked the struggle between the good and the bad, and the undercover cop who’s in both camps. There’s great dialogue and great performances.”