There will never be a film noir based on Raymond Chandler's novel The Little Sister. The book was adapted in the 1960s in a film starring James Garner, but it was set in the "present day." Michael Lark's adaptation of the book is probably the closest we'll ever get to a true visual treatment of Chandler's story. Which is fine, because the artwork is reminiscent to the film noirs of old. The shadows are deep and foreboding. The architecture is clearly early 20th Century. There are elements of art-deco here and there. There are Victorian era dwellings elsewhere. There are film noir posters of The Maltese Falcon and This Gun for Hire. Philip Marlowe wears a fedora and a trench coat.
Lark's portrayal of Philip Marlowe is in many ways truer to the Chandler vision of Philip Marlowe. He's tall, confident, yet the deep lines in his face convey a world-weariness. Lark's artwork also nicely captures Marlowe's environment. From the cheap building that houses his office to the ashtray that fills as the story progresses every detail is drawn with a painstaking attention to detail.
And then there's the story. Raymond Chandler loved to write stories that are dizzyingly confusing in their plot. We, as readers, think that we've learned the truth only to find that another equally valid explanation is offered. The story revolves around Marlowe's client, a puritanical woman named Orfamay Quest. She is from Manhattan, Kansas, and has come to Los Angeles looking for her brother Orrin. Needless to say, Marlowe finds himself dealing with blackmailers, gangsters, hired guns, movie stars, and cops.
Michael Lark's adaptation of The Little Sister is like a film noir lost in the vaults only to be rediscovered for a new generation to enjoy. If you're a Chandler fan this graphic novel is a must.
All text (C) 2000 LCB
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