Interestingly, the allusions the game makes tend to be to movies rather than books so it is fitting that The Big Sleep be playing somewhere in the city. In my last post, one commenter made the point that where there is A Geiger’s Book Store – and there are a few – there is an ACME Books opposite. This come from the 1946 film made by Howard Hawkes, starring a grizzled Humphery Bogart opposite the very throaty voiced Lauren Bacall, who was also sharing Bogey’s bed. It’s a great movie and if you want to follow up LA Noire you should watch it. Here is the location if you’ve not yet passed it.
But the game doesn’t just allude to adaptations of Chandler’s novels. In the final few missions of the game you stop playing Cole Phelps and play Jack Kelso instead. He works at the insurance firm California Fire and Theft as an investigator. In 1943 Ray was invited into Paramount Studios and asked if he was interested in writing a screenplay for James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity. He would work with Billy Wilder and though the two would not get on very well, they wrote a blistering screenplay that was much better than the original novel. It stared Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck as the central couple and the sexual charge between them – developed in the pacey writing and swapping of some hot lines – was brilliant. MacMurray’s character, Walter Neff, is an investigator like Kelso and he works in a galleried office that Kelso’s is modelled on. I didn’t get a picture but in this still from the movie you will recognize the frosted glass doors and the art deco railing. Chandler himself is also in the shot.
There are many more references I am sure that I have yet to spot. The last one I have noticed though is the trophy you win when you complete the Homicide desk cases. It is called The Simple Are of Murder which was the title of an essay written by Chandler and published in The Atlantic Magazine. You can read a bit more about it here. It’s an important essay and worth checking out. It’s a great introduction to what Chandler was trying to do with his writing.
This sort of thing is rather fun, in a nerdy way, but it also shows how important Chandler and noir are today. His influence is still being felt in all sorts of ways and LA Noire is just one example albeit a rather good one. And I have not doubt that the more I play this game, the more I’ll find.