Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles

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After the success of his early novels, Ray was tapped to adapt James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity with writer/director Billy Wilder. The two men loathed each other, and the scenes inside their cramped Paramount office were tense. According to Wilder, Ray wrote a letter of complaint about him that he never forgot:

“He couldn’t work with me any more because I was rude; I was drinking; I was fucking; I was on the phone with four broads, with one I was on the phone—he clocked me—for twelve and a half minutes; I had asked him to pull down the Venetian blinds—the sun was streaming into the office—without saying please.”

 

However, after the movie’s success Ray settled into life on the Paramount lot, where one co-worker observed, “he loved interruptions more than anything else.” He also loved drinking, and burned bridges at the studio when he presented a list of demands in exchange for finishing the script for The Blue Dahlia. Unless he could write at home and drunk, he claimed, it would never get done in time. According to Williams, his full demands included;

 

A. Two Cadillac limousines, to stand day and night outside the house with drivers available for:

1. Fetching the doctor (Ray’s or Cissy’s or both).

2. Taking script pages to and from the studio.

3. Driving the maid to the market.

4. Contingencies and emergencies.

B. Six secretaries—in three relays of two—to be in constant attendance and

readiness, available at all times for dictation, typing, and other possible emergencies.

The studio agreed to Ray’s demands, and the script was finished in record time.

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