Creator: Julia Macmillan
Age rating: Everyone
Raymond Chandler, celebrated crime writer, comes to England in 1955 after the death of his wife. He descends into a grief-stricken alcoholic stupor and only Philip Marlowe, his most famous character, can save him via a final thriller in the gangster underworld of 50s London.
Synopsis: In 1955 Raymond Chandler, celebrated crime writer and creator of the world famous detective Philip Marlowe, comes to London following the death of his beloved wife Cissy. While being feted by the London literati, Ian Fleming, Stephen and Natasha Spender, he falls into an alcoholic stupor in order to avoid the pain of his loss. He no longer has the creative drive and pushes Marlowe away, not wanting to write anymore. The film opens with Chandler, late one night in Mayfair’s Connaught Hotel, drinking whisky and writing poetry while Marlowe, only visible to Chandler, tries to convince him to write crime fiction again as without that, Marlowe will fade forever.

Natasha Spender, beautiful wife of the poet Stephen befriends Chandler and tries to help fearing for his life. Ian Fleming, an admirer of Chandler’s work and himself just struggling with the first James Bond tires to encourage him to continue with his work. One day while Ian is round at Chandler’s he brings the London Evening newspaper reporting the imminent trial of Ruth Ellis, a young bar club manager who shot her lover David Blakely in a crime of passion. Chandler becomes obsessed with saving her from the death penalty and up until this point the story is all based on fact. From here we depart into the world of fantasy as Chandler conflates, in his whisky-imbued mind, saving Ellis and bringing back Cissy. He summons Marlowe and commands him to investigate the case and save Ellis from the gallows.

Marlowe goes to the Old Bailey the next day to witness the trial of Ruth Ellis and notices an attractive woman in the friend’s gallery. Ellis is found guilty of murder which she does not try and deny and is lead away seemingly unperturbed. The next day Marlowe visits the Club where Ellis used to be a manager and sees the woman he noticed at the trial. She is Josephine, the French bar maid who used to work for Ellis when she managed the club. There is clearly an attraction between them and she is happy to have someone help her try and save her boss. The next day they visit Ellis in prison and she presents a different image from the peroxide blonde in the dock at her trial. She is resigned to her fate and doesn’t try and fight it.

Blakely was an semi-professional racing driver and the next day Marlowe visits his partner, Findlater’s garage. He doesn’t find anything new and so heads off to visit Cussen and a friend and admirer of Elllis’ who hated Blakely. He’s not at his home address so Marlowe visits him at his work place in the depths of gangland south London. Cussen doesn’t tell him anything but as he leaves Marlowe is knocked over the back of the head and out for the count. The following morning Marlowe is picked up by the police and Inspector gives Marlowe his card. Later that day Marlowe return picks up Josephine and they visit Andy, Ellis 10-year old son by a previous marriage. Andy remembers seeing Cussen give his mother a gun the night before the shooting. This seems odd for someone who claimed to have loved Ellis, knowing she had a volatile character and could easily have shot her lover. Findlater calls to say he has something strange amongst Blakely’s possessions: a piece of paper showing bets of drivers for the next big race. Later that night Marlowe heads back to Cussen’s home and apparently he has left with suitcases. He goes back to his office and overhears a man’s voice with him in his office. The other man is threatening him saying he didn’t fulfil his side of the bargain. When Marlowe hears the man leave he slips into the office to find Cussen dead. He picks up a piece of paper with the address of a nightclub and heads off there. This is the gangster Eddie Mercury’s club who has used his henchman Canarino to trap both Cussen and Blakely into a race fixing scam. In a dramatic nightclub scene reminiscent of the very best of Chandler’s fiction, Marlowe takes on the bad boys and beats them at their own game. With this new evidence, Marlowe and the inspector race to the prison to get a stay of execution for Ellis but at the moment where she can be saved the scene freezes and we return to Chandler who awakens from a 3 day delirium with Natasha by his bed.

She is thankful to see him conscious again and leaves, passing Marlowe unawares on the stairs. Marlowe explains to Chandler that Ellis couldn’t be saved and she is gone. Something has changed in Chandler too and he accepts the passing of both Ellis and Cissy too. He understands that he can write for someone he loves, even if she is no longer there, and begins his final novel.

Latest Work

  • Script 1 - Julia's Original Draft
    Creative Notes:
    This is partly fact about what really happened when Chandler came to London, but departs into the realms of fiction as Marlowe makes his impression on 50s London.

    Dream Credits:
    Producer: Graham King.
    Director: Tom Ford.
    Chandler: Jack Nicholson.
    Marlowe: Dominic West.
    Natahsha: Angelina Jolie.
    Josephine: Marion Cotillard.
    Ruth Ellis: Christina Aguillera.
    Ian Fleming: Hugh Grant.

All Work