When Raymond Chandler Went to Work for Billy Wilder

Edward Sorel at the New York Times:

In the rat-infested trenches of France, Raymond Chandler became an alcoholic, and stayed one. In 1932, after booze had gotten him fired from a cushy job, he resolved to cut down on the gin and become a novelist. He began by selling hard-boiled detective yarns to the pulpy magazine Black Mask, then later sold his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” to Alfred A. Knopf. In 1943, Chandler’s third novel, “The High Window,” was read by the Paramount director Billy Wilder. He liked the way Chandler wrote dialogue, and offered him a contract of $750 a week for 10 weeks to work with him on a screenplay for “Double Indemnity,” James M. Cain’s novel. Chandler had never written for the screen, and didn’t like the idea of being subservient to a young Austrian-born Jew who had written dozens of screenplays in Berlin and Hollywood. But Chandler was broke, and had a sick wife to care for. He signed up.

more here.