An extended treatment for a television series. 

                     ©  "FAMOUS AUTHORS: THEIR EARLY DAYS"

                                        A Series for Television


Peter Shillingford



 A multiple part series for television, which takes a retrospective look at the work of celebrated thriller authors and the characters they created as their alter egos.

A visual experience that illustrates how the early events in the lives of these young authors, and the cities, in which they lived, shaped both the writing and their protagonist's lifestyle.

Each profiled author, played initially as an older person, would host his or her own show, opening with a sequence which establishes the author in his or her particular city as a fledgling writer in the midst of an exploration for research on the next novel.

The author is there to set the scene with snippets of information relevant to the scenario being played. In this way we can re-enact passages from the books creating an interpretation of the writing, attitudes and characters of that time. 

The older author/host may appear from time to time in situ to guide and comment on the action but would never be acknowledged by the characters in the scene, he or she would appear as if a time traveller visiting his/her old neirborhood.

These journeys through the eyes of the authors will take place in the specific city or environment that strongly influenced their later work, reflecting images experienced during the creative turmoil of their research and writing. 

The series will travel the steam blown streets of Damon Runyon's New York City, linger in the dark alleys of Marseilles with George Simenon, taste the absinthe with Colette in Parisian opium dens, hang out in the neon lit gangster bars of San Francisco with Dashiel Hammet or join Ian Fleming for a little snooker in a dingy Rastafarian ghetto club in downtown Kingston, Jamaica.

Constantly propelled to the edge of darkness, the viewer is protected by the authors and their imagination as we revisit the stories and the people of those fascinating times.

In summary, we believe that the action of combining the landscapes of a great city with the exact words about it from the pen of a great author is a concept unique to television. 

It can easily be extended to the exploration and characterisation of other cities captured by the descriptive writing of other noted authors and the experiences of their hero's or alto egos.


 RAYMOND CHANDLER                              LOS ANGELES

DASHIEL HAMMET                                      SAN FRANCISCO

ERNEST HEMINGWAY                                CUBA

IAN FLEMING                                                CARIBBEAN

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD                             UNITED STATES

DOROTHY PARKER                                    NEW YORK

DAMON RUNYON                                         NEW YORK

JAMES JOYCE                                             DUBLIN

ANITA LOOS                                                HOLLYWOOD

OSCAR WILDE                                            LONDON

AGATHA CHRISTIE                                    EUROPE

ANAIS NIN                                                    PARIS

VIRGINIA WOOLF                                      ENGLAND

DYLAN THOMAS                                         WALES

HENRY MILLER                                            PARIS

GEORGE SIMENON                                    PARIS

LEO TOLSTOY                                             MOSCOW

COLETTE                                                      FRANCE

MARK TWAIN                                               UNITED STATES

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS                            UNITED STATES

HERMAN MELVILLE                                   THE OCEANS

T.E.LAWRENCE                                          ARABIA

JACK LONDON                                            ALASKA

JOHN STEINBECK                                     UNITED STATES

ALEXANDRA DUMAS                                FRANCE

GEORGE SAND                                          FRANCE

WILBUR SMITH                                           AFRICA

EVAN HUNTER                                            NEW YORK

CONAN DOYLE                                            LONDON

DOROTHY L. SAYERS                                UNITED STATES

PAUL THEROUX                                          WORLD WIDE

JOHN LE CARRE                                         ENGLAND/EUROPE

IAN RANKIN                                                  SCOTLAND



All the great mystery writers, emulating the famous detectives they created as their alter egos, seek the experience of danger in their personal research of people, locations and situations prior to putting pen to paper.

We intend to walk the mean streets of Los Angeles with a young Raymond Chandler, to be guided by him through the observations and experiences of a master mystery writer.

 Within this framework Philip Marlowe will appear, and excerpts from the books will be re-enacted complete with Chandler's characters and their confrontations.

 "I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite awhile. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business...                        

Except from "THE LONG GOODBYE." 

"The star crossed lovers from "FAREWELL MY LOVELY," Moose Malloy and the beautiful Velma...Moose took five bullets before he died."

"THE BIG SLEEP" Hired by an eccentric paralysed California millionaire in a case of blackmail, detective Philip Marlowe finds himself involved with something more ugly...and with the millionaire's two psychopathic daughters."

The young Chandler himself will be our guide and accomplice as we visit those mean streets, tough women and dangerous men, in the Los Angeles of the Thirties and Forties.


Beginning in 1939 with "THE BIG SLEEP" through 1958's "PLAYBACK", Raymond Chandler wrote seven novels about a detective named Philip Marlowe and a city named Los Angeles.

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks... Anything can happen."

Chandler's Los Angeles was so real, so intense, so emotionally felt and visually realised that the city and its surrounding areas became as important as the detective-protagonist. 

With his stunning descriptive talent, his eye for telling detail, for mood, for the shape and texture of locale, this master of hard boiled prose made Los Angeles his city, capturing its gaudy, kaleidoscopic essence, its argot and its slang, in the pages of these seven remarkable novels.

Through the narrowed eyes of his famous narrator-detective and alter ego, Philip Marlowe, Chandler brought this vast, multi-faceted city and its people to life in a special way. Sardonic and cynical, poetic and sentimental, a man of wry wit and humour, the sharply observant Marlowe moves through Los Angeles from sleazy Hollywood bungalows to plush Beverly Hills apartments. 

From fog-draped Santa Monica piers to smoke-filled bars in the city's bowels.   Investigating the narrow tenement hallways, often splattered with blood, he would follow the trail along the wide sunny boulevards alongside the sun-splashed sands of Malibu to the cold, decaying mansions of Bunker Hill...and everywhere, the always beautiful...but deadly women.

In this unique production we go with Raymond Chandler as he revisits and remembers his and Philip Marlowe's Los Angeles, the city they both knew so well.

Chandler's Los Angeles is real, the buildings, the locales are there today and because of his incomparable eye for descriptive detail, they are as fresh today on the pages of his novels as they were in the 30s and 40s.

Of course, much of Raymond Chandler's city has changed over the last decades but many of the places he wrote about can still be found beneath the sterile surface of modern-day Los Angeles.

If one knows where to look. And Marlowe shows us where.

In his town, the past stands shoulder to shoulder with the present, as we discover in this fascinating journey into Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles as seen through the eyes of his alter ego Philip Marlowe.

The ever popular books of Raymond Chandler remain in print, over 60 years from first publication, selling in many languages around the world, all of them honoured classics of the hard boiled private eye detective genre. 

is famed detective Philip Marlowe remains as much a part of popular world culture as Sherlock Holmes...and he has been portrayed on radio, on television and in motion pictures by such legendary stars as Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell, Robert Mitchum and James Garner.

Chandler's real world became Marlowe's fictional world and that world is here, alive for our camera, in RAYMOND CHANDLER'S LOS ANGELES.

Raymond Chandler will function as our narrator and guide. His words will reflect a series of selected re-enactment's from the many diverse locations to be found in his novels. Chandler's descriptions of Los Angeles will bring his city to life for us. Spoken quotations from his books will complement the visual image.

For this visual interpretation we will keep the camera in a constant flowing movement, creating an atmospheric mood at each location to match Chandler's prose. There will be slow dreamy crane shots, low, wide-angle tracking with occasional use of subjective camera. Filters, smoke and mist effects will be creatively employed to evoke the period and to heighten emotion.

With further selections from Chandler's books and the re-enactment of his characters, his virtues and his vices, we will come to know this author and his alter ego, the flawed and laconic Philip Marlowe.

A short sample script is available.

RAYMOND CHANDLER'S LOS ANGELES.   Sample script pages.


The first time we see the older Chandler he will be in a seedy office standing at an open window. Outside the mean streets of Los Angeles have a neon glitter after a faint wash of rain. Below a tall young man is standing under a street light.

Chandler speaks directly to the camera.


Los Angeles in the late 1930s was no place

to be without a job or a recently deceased

relative's fortune in your pocket. See that

tall fella down there in the Fedora and the

cheap raincoat...that's my man, Philip Marlowe...

A private eye...a dick. He's my could

say he is a part of me...I wrote seven books

about him, and about Los Angeles. But that

was a long time ago...

The camera tracks through the window and frames on Marlowe hailing a cab.

                                                 CHANDLER vo        

                               Let's go with him. Spend some time and

                                check out the action. It's December 1937.


Marlowe moves quickly and easily through the deserted spaces of Union Station.

                                                   CHANDLER vo

                                    There was nothing to it....The Super

                                    Chief was on time, as it usually is...

The Super Chief crashes to a halt in a scream of steel and billowing steam.

                                                   CHANDLER vo

                                    ...and the subject was as easy to spot

                                    as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket...

                                    She looked left at the coffee shop...

From out of the mist and steam walks a vision of a girl.

                                                   CHANDLER vo

                                    ...turned and went into the main waiting

                                    room, glanced at the drugstore and

                                    news stand, the information booth and

                                    the people sitting on the clean benches.

Marlowe lights up a cigarette and watches the girl sashay into the Coffee Shop.

        CHANDLER vo

...some of the ticket windows were open, some

not. She wasn't interested in them...She went

into the coffee shop. A guy was across the

table from her smiling and talking, and one

look was enough to show that she knew him

and regretted it...he reached over and ran a

fingertip down her cheek. She jerked back

and brought a small automatic up from her side.


 Chandler is at a table just beyond the girl and her man friend. Marlowe is standing at the door checking out the couple discreetly. 

Close in on Chandler

CHANDLER(to camera)

Marlowe always had an eye for a pretty girl...

got him into a lot of trouble...more than once. 

But the best kind of trouble.

 Close on the couple as an argument flares up...the girl storms out passing Marlowe, who tips his hat respectfully.


Chandler pulls up in a 1934 Oldsmobile. He slowly rolls down the window and speaks to the camera.


Marlowe never worked the morning unless

it was a hangover from the previous night. 

Camera tilts up to art deco building, the sun reflecting back from its windows.

                                                 CHANDLER vo

At the Chateau Bercy lived a motley crowd of

villains, show girls and hustlers...Marlowe's

kind of people...night people.


Marlowe walks in, speaks with the clerk, flashes his I.D., drops a $5 dollar bill and heads for the ornate elevator. He turns and surveys the empty lobby.


 The Chateau Bercy was old but made over. 

 It had the sort of lobby that asks for plush and

 india rubber plants, but gets glass brick,

 cornice lighting, three-cornered glass tables

 and a general air of having been re-decorated

 by a parolee from a nut hatch. Its colour scheme

 was bile green, linseed poultice brown, sidewalk

 grey and monkey bottom blue. It was as restful

 as a split lip.


Marlowe steps out of the elevator and forces the door of 44b open; he moves inside to find the body of a dead girl. We move closer to the knife protruding from the girl's chest...then move slowly to her face.


The Chateau Bercy, where Dolores Gonzales

lived...and died..."under her left breast and

tight against the flame coloured shirt lay the silver

handle of a knife I had seen before…the handle

was in the shape of a naked woman. The eyes

of Miss Dolores Gonzales were half open and

on her lips there was the dim ghost of a

provocative smile.


Camera pans down the side of this art deco building, past lit windows and down to the dead streets where there is only one vehicle parked with its side lights on. 

A grey Plymouth, vintage 1936, tires screeching, makes the sharp right hand turn into the service road to the rear entrance of the building.

Marlowe steps out of the shadows as the car pulled to a halt. He tosses a cigarette into the rain-wet gutter.


It was a blonde. A blonde to make a Bishop

kick a hole in a stained glass window.

The window of the Plymouth begins to winds down. 


She gave me a smile I could feel in

my hip pocket…

Marlowe pulls his hat lower over his eyes and moves carefully to the car.


A beautiful girl is at the wheel of the car, a wild look in her eyes.                     


The motor of the grey Plymouth throbbed

under her voice and the rain pounded

above it. The violet light at the top of Bullocks'

green tinged tower was far above us, serene

and withdrawn from the dark, dripping city. 

Marlowe slides in beside her and hands her an envelope.

Her black-gloved hand reached out and rips open the envelope.


She bent over to count them under the dim

light of the dash. A bag clicked open, clicked

shut. She let a spent breath die on her lips. 

She leaned toward me.


                                I'm leaving copper. I'm on my way. 

                               This is a  get-away stake and God

                                 how I need it. Goodbye  copper

                                 and wish me luck. I got a raw deal...


                                    Like hell you did!

Marlowe takes one long last look at the girl, shakes his head exits the vehicle and walks away across the street to his car.

                                                    CHANDLER vo

The grey Plymouth moved forward, gathered

speed, and darted around the corner on to

Sunset Place. The sound of its motor died,

and with it blonde Agnes wiped herself off

the slate for good. Three men dead and the

woman went riding off in the rain with my

two hundred in her bag and not a mark

on her.

Across the street, Marlowe's car is a welcome haven as he surveys his empty wallet. 

In the shadows of the Bullocks entrance, framed by the ornately painted frescoes on the ceiling, Chandler lights up a cigarette. For a moment we think it is Marlowe, and then he speaks to camera.


Blondes have more fun they say...they also

carry a lot of baggage...


Marlowe driving along Sunset Boulevard


...they say...who are these 'they say' people. 

I've never met one but Marlowe is about to

meet another blonde. It's a tough life.

Marlowe pulls into the Beverly Hills Hotel and exits the car.


Open on shimmering water, move up to Marlowe.


It was a clear morning, no smog, no high fog even,

and the sun dazzled the surface of the swimming

pool which began just out-side the plate glass wall

of the bar and stretched to the far end of the dining


A blonde beauty is walking the pool edge to the diving board... 


A girl in a white sharkskin suit and a luscious figure

was climbing the ladder to the high board.

Close on Marlowe, Fedora pulled low over his eyes.


I watched the band of white that showed

between the tan of her thighs and the suit. 

I watched it carnally...A moment later I saw

her flash down in one and a half. Spray

came high enough to catch the sun and

make rainbows that were almost as pretty

as the girl.

We cut between Marlowe and blonde.


Then she came up the ladder and un-strapped

her white helmet and shook her bleach job loose. 

She wobbled her bottom over to a small white

table and sat down beside a lumberjack in white

drill pants, dark glasses, and a tan so evenly

dark that he couldn't have been anything but the

hired man around the pool. He reached over and

patted her thigh.

The Blonde pulls a small revolver and sticks it in the man's ear...he moves his hand away.  

Chandler moves into frame.


os Angeles...a hard-boiled city with no more

personality than a paper cup....


"HENRY MILLER" New York and Paris"

We intend to visit with the writer HENRY MILLER as an older man, and journey with him from New York to Paris of the thirties, to live again the erotic madness of that time, and to experience the inspiration that created the writing so avidly read today.

Selecting from novels and biographic material available, a series of visual scenes will be reconstructed of MILLER'S sensual life style and attitudes, two elements that ultimately affected his writing.

New York in the early twenties found MILLER writing and embarking on the one great love affair of his life with his second wife June, a match for him in energy and sexuality...a woman who will remain a constant thread into the next decade.

An interpretation from his first book "Clipped Wings" will reveal MILLER and his relationships in New York, as a young man exploring his sexual needs.

Later work such as "Tropic of Cancer" will allow us to visit Paris and enjoy the characters that existed there in the early thirties; Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, and the painters of that period.

Other books from which scenes will be created are "Black Spring" "Tropic of Capricorn" and the "Hamlet" letters.

Whenever we visit with HENRY MILLER, he as an older man will take us to see the young MILLER, walking the wet cobblestone streets of Paris, visiting a lady friend for an aperitif, a thought provoking discussion, and almost certainly, sex.

Within this confrontation the older MILLER will appear, and without disturbing the re-enactment, might remark to the camera what he thought of his rampant alter ego at that particular time, his morals and his judgement now as an older and hopefully wiser man.

With this concept we can visualise scenes from the Miller books, creating an interpretation of his best writing, his attitudes, and the more avant-garde people with whom he lived.

The older MILLER will be our constant guardian, informer, and educator, as we go back in time to visit with the man himself, the garrets, the streets, the artists, the women, and the stories of that time.



The life and times of the extraordinary Damon Runyon. The journalist who personifies the razzle-dazzle of Broadway and the Roaring Twenties. Bursting onto the scene as Hearst's most widely read reporter, Runyon covered not only Broadway but also the Mexican revolution, World War l, the Lindbergh kidnapping, and the worlds of professional boxing and baseball.

But Runyon did not merely record the American myth: he helped create it. "Runyonesque" has passed into the language. He is perhaps best remembered for the short stories of small-time gangsters and gamblers which grew into the Broadway and motion picture smash hit "Guys and Dolls".

With more shows and movies made from his work than any other American writer, Runyon can even take credit for the film that made Shirley Temple a star, the all-time favourite "Little Miss Marker". He was truly a legend - in his own time and in ours.

We will recapture this flamboyant era in a tour de force as witty, wry, satiric, and outrageous as Runyon himself. With a star-studded cast of characters - Pancho Villa, William Randolph Hearst, Al Capone, Jimmy Walker, Walter Winchell and Jack Dempsey.

Runyon commands stage centre as journalist, dandy, cynic, social observer, and ultimately self-blinded dupe.

Damon Runyon invented the Broadway of "Guys and Dolls" and the Roaring Twenties, neither of which existed, but whose names and phrases became part of theatre history and the American language. "The building of castles in the air made dreamers of us all," his friend Gene Fowler said.

Runyon's people, Nicely-Nicely and Nathan Detroit and the Lemon Drop Kid and Little Miss Marker, were famous all over the world. He started the characters off in newspapers and then took them into short stories, following which they became known in classic American movies.

He made the gangsters so enjoyable that they could walk off a page and across a movie screen and into your heart. Twenty six of his short stories became part of the American art form, the movie. He stressed fine, upstanding, but dishonest people who fell in love, often to the sound of gunfire that sounded harmless.

His stories were based on people on Broadway and 50th Street in Manhattan, citizens of the night at an all night delicatessen called Lindy's.

He had the most admiration for Arthur Bieler of Tenth Avenue, an undertaker's delight, who in real life rarely missed when shooting at people he didn't like.

He ate at some of the great dinner tables of the country but he hated legitimate people and loved thieves. His characters became Runyonesque, now one of the dozen most used descriptive words today.

New York in the twenties will be re-visited. Much of Runyon's territory is still standing and we will walk with this man as a young writer experiencing the night-time action as he returns to his old stomping grounds.

Conclusion: A low cost, location based series with the potential to attract major stars, paying scale, should they wish to direct and play a lead role of the author or his hero.

Other potential series in the same vein are:

Famous Lady Thriller Writers

Famous Travel Writers

Famous Science Fiction Writers

Famous Romance Writers

Biographers and their Famous Subjects

Famous Screenwriters and their Heroes



                                        A Series for Television


 Peter Shillingford

                                               2 Creefleet House

280 Kew Road



  0208 940 4507

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