Philip Marlowe – American Icon – Smells like Coffee?

From the moment I first had the idea to create a candle store that was dedicated to the greatest detectives of film and print, I knew Philip Marlowe would be featured. While there is little doubt of how important European detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, (or to the hardboiled genre specifically, private investigators like Three Gun Mack, Sam Spade, Race Williams and Mike Hammer), have been to the detective fiction genre – no other literary detective has had the level of impact of Philip Marlowe.

Powers Boothe as Philip Marlowe in the outstanding TV series “Philip Marlowe, Private Eye”, 1983-1986.

Shades of the man are everywhere. From Who Framed Roger Rabbit, to Star Trek: The Next Generation, (episode – “the Big Goodbye”), to Chinatown, to Blade Runner – The Marlowe character’s influence is undeniable. Marlowe embodied a fatalistic, romantic persona that gave the 1920s German Expressionist film movement the sultriness it needed to become Film Noir. Marlowe gave life to Jim Rockford and Lew Archer. He gave soul to Sam Spade. Without Marlowe, there would be no “noir detective” Halloween costumes in the party shops every year!

James Garner as Philip Marlowe in the 1969 neo-noir film “Marlowe”, based on Raymond Chandler’s novel “The Little Sister”.

I was searching for a way to create a candle scent that would marry perfectly with the Philip Marlowe books, films, TV shows and old radio programs that I am constantly pouring over. I needed to boil this complex character down into a scent that would cast the perfect mood when companioned with existing Marlowe media.

So, how do you summarize, (in a limited medium), a man who was hard living, but loved a good shower and shave and always made time for breakfast? A man who was surprisingly contemplative and jadedly romantic, talked tough, pushed buttons and was doomed to an almost compulsive sarcasm, (even when facing the business end of a gun)? A man who smoked a pipe and played himself at chess in his free time, that is – whatever free time he had in between getting drugged, sandbagged, tied up or lied to?

What does a man like that smell of? Well – obviously, he smells of coffee.

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in the 1946 noir crime thriller “The Big Sleep”, written by Raymond Chandler.


“I went out to the kitchen to make coffee – yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The life blood of tired men.” – Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye / Raymond Chandler, 1953

“I’m now going to eat breakfast in the coffee shop across the street: orange juice, bacon and eggs, toast, honey, three or four cups of coffee, and a toothpick.” – Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep / Raymond Chandler, 1939

“The coffee shop smell was strong enough to build a garage on.” Philip Marlowe, Farewell, My Lovely / Raymond Chandler, 1940

“I’m not a young man. I’m old, tired and full of no coffee.” Philip Marlowe, Playback / Raymond Chandler, 1958

“I got up at nine, drank three cups of black coffee, bathed the back of my head with ice-water and read the two morning papers that had been thrown against the apartment door.” Philip Marlowe, Farewell, My Lovely / Raymond Chandler, 1940

“I’d rather drink some hot black coffee as bitter as sin.” Philip Marlowe, The Little Sister / Raymond Chandler, 1949


  • The Big Sleep – references 16 / 8-9 cups consumed
  • Farewell, My Lovely – references 17 / 10+ cups consumed
  • The High Window – references 5 / 1 cup consumed
  • The Lady in the Lake – references 9 / 3 2/3 cups consumed
  • The Little Sister – references 13 / 7+ cups consumed
  • The Long Goodbye – references 72 / 16 cups consumed
  • Playback – references 21 / 6+ cups consumed
Flame Noir Candle Co.’s homage to Philip Marlowe, “Cahuenga 615”, is named after the fictional location of Marlowe’s office in Los Angeles, CA.

So there you have it. Light a Flame Noir original Cahuenga 615 candle, pour some coffee, and read a Philip Marlowe novel!


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