The show had a dreamlike quality that was unlike any other hardboiled detective film. It was apparently HBO's first attempt at an original dramatic series, and a joint US-UK production. The end credits say it was shot on location in both Los Angeles and London. Be interesting to know how that was accomplished. And why.
This was my first encounter with Powers Boothe, and I thought he made a pretty good Marlowe. So it's been strange seeing him in other roles over the past thirty years, where he's dang near always played a villain. Gotta admit he made a great Curly Bill Brocius in Tombstone. And he's still being creepy on Nashville.
This first episode, "The Pencil," was based on the one and only Marlowe short story. Near as I can tell, it first saw print in 1959, serialized in the London Daily Mail as "Marlowe Takes On the Syndicate," and made its US debut as "Wrong Pigeon" in the February 1960 Manhunt. After showing up in the January 1962 EQMM as "Philip Marlowe's Last Case," it finally acquired the title "The Pencil" in the September 1965 Argosy. The other ten episodes were based on Black Mask and Dime Detective novelettes from the '30s, in which the Marlowe-like hero bore several different names.
THE PENCIL part 2
THE PENCIL part 3
THE PENCIL part 4