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Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler's Imagined City
By Catherine Corman

November 02, 2009 /
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CITY HALL
He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I can be bent. I'm not the City Hall.

"Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler's Imagined City," comprises photographs of all the ominous, forbidding locations in Los Angeles Chandler wrote about in his novels. These places - from Malibu Pier to the Hollywood Sign, from Union Station to the Beverly Hills Hotel, from MGM Studios to Musso and Frank's Grill - reflect the literary geography of his imagination.

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BEVERLY HILLS
"We go west," she said, "through the Beverly Hills and then father on."

I let the clutch in and drifted around the corner to go south to Sunset. Dolores got one of her long brown cigarettes out.

"Did you bring a gun?" she asked.

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WATERFRONT HOTEL
I lay on my back on a bed in a waterfront hotel and waited for it to get dark.

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THE BELVEDER CLUB
"Who runs this town?"

Silence.

"I heard a gambler named Laird Brunette put up thirty grand to elect the Mayor. I heard he owns the Belvedere Club and both the gambling ships out on the water."

"Might be."

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MUSSO & FRANK GRILL
He changed his clothes and we ate dinner at Musso's about five-thirty. No drinks. He caught the bus on Cahuenga and I drove home thinking about this and that. His empty suitcase was on my bed where he had unpacked it and put his stuff in a lightweight job of mine. His had a gold key which was in one of the locks. I locked the suitcase up empty and tied the key to the handle and put it on the high shelf in my clothes closet. It didn't feel quite empty, but what was in it was no business of mine.

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GEIGER RARE BOOKS
"If necessary," I said, "I'll testify under oath that that book came from Geiger's store. The blonde, Agnes, will admit what kind of business the store did. It's obviously to anybody with eyes that that store is just a front for something. But the Hollywood police allowed it to operate, for their own reasons. I dare say the Grand Jury would like to know what those reasons are."

Wilde grinned. He said: "Grand Juries do ask those embarrassing questions sometimes - in a rather vain effort to find out just why cities are run as they are run."

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L.A. ATHLETIC CLUB
"The day before yesterday, however, I met Lavery in front of the Athletic Club down on the corner here. he said he didn't know where Crystal was."

Kingsley gave me a quick look and reached a bottle and two tinted glasses up on the desk. He poured a couple of drinks and pushed one over. He held his against the light and said slowly:

"Lavery said he hadn't gone away with her, hadn't seen her in two months, hadn't had any communications with her of any kind."

I said, "You believed him?"

He nodded frowning, and drank his drink and pushed the glass to one side. I tasted mine. It was Scotch. Not very good Scotch.

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SUNSET TOWERS
"He blew on the 16th of September," he said. "The only thing important about that is it was the chauffeur's day off and nobody saw Regan take his car out. It was late afternoon, though. We found the car four days later in a garage belonging to a ritzy bungalow court place near the Sunset Towers. A garage man reported it to the stolen car detail, said it didn't belong there."

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LIDO PIER
"They seem to be a family things happen to. A big Buick belonging to one of them is washing about in the surf off Lido fish pier."

I held the telephone tight enough to crack it. I also held my breath.

"Yeah," Ohls said cheerfully. "A nice new Buick sedan all messed up with sand and sea water . . . Oh, I almost forgot. There's a guy inside it."

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UNION STATION
The redcap put the stuff in behind the tipped seat, took his money, went away. The guy in the sports coat and yellow handkerchief got in and backed his car out and then stopped long enough to put on dark glasses and light a cigarette. After that he was gone.

Corman's images convey the palpable solitude of Los Angeles as Raymond Chandler painted it. Her photographs are printed in black and white at high contrast, to look like quick and dirty detective pictures from the noir era. Daylight Noir additional photos.
 
Catherine Corman has given us, as Jonathan Lethem writes in his preface, "a supremely evocative catalogue of haunted places… these streets and buildings we have erected in order to give order to our solitudes."

A photographer and filmmaker, Catherine Corman grew up immersed in the Los Angeles film industry (her father, Roger Corman, is a prolific director and producer). She was educated at Harvard and Oxford Universities. Her first book, Joseph Cornell's Dreams, was published by Exact Change Press in 2006. Her photographs, sculptures and collage films have been exhibited at Harvard's Fogg Museum and various galleries in New York City and Los Angeles, including Exit Art, Participant Gallery, Zieher Smith, and Artists' Space.

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Publisher: Charta Art Books

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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