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September 22, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

RAYMOND CHANDLER IN HOLLYWOOD by Al Clark (Silman-James Press: $19.95, 228 pp.). Although Raymond Chandler created some of the quintessential images of Los Angeles in his detective stories, the withdrawn British-educated author did not enjoy life in Southern California. In this intelligent biography, Clark traces the author's unhappy experiences in Hollywood and offers detailed analyses of the 10 movies made from six of his novels.

The understated American vernacular and outrageous metaphors that illuminate Chandler's prose did not translate easily into screenplays, and his attempts to collaborate with Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and other noted directors embittered him. Like so many writers of his generation, Chandler drowned his unhappiness--and his talent--in alcohol.

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