I haven't read any Chandler that I can recall, unfortunately. I suspect he's more popular because he wrote a continuing character, while Hammett didn't (outside of three short stories featuring Sam Spade). But that's just a mildly informed guess.
212. They Live [B ]
213. Big Trouble in Little China [B+]
This was a double feature at the Egyptian Theater last weekend, and it was a fun one. Neither movie is perfect, but they're both pretty watchable.
They Live: At times, Roddy Piper is the perfect lead for this movie. He brings a rough physicality that most Hollywood actors couldn't, on account of being too pretty. At other times, his performance is pure camp, especially when Carpenter (writing under a pseudonym) saddles him with one-liners. "I've come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum," might be the most famous exchange in the movie, but his one-liners are at most times nonsensical ("mama don't like tattletales") and more silly than the rest of the film, which is dark and at times outrightly subversive. I'm not shocked that Carpenter could only get this made by producing it independently--I just wish that he had a little more money when he made it. Outside of Keith David, the supporting cast is pretty forgettable. Those complaints aside, the sequence when Piper puts on the sunglasses for the first time is one of the most effective ten minutes I've ever seen.
Big Trouble in Little China: The pace of this movie is manic, and by making Kurt Russel's moron of character the lead, we're often in the dark about what is happening. But this is almost certainly intentional (Russell exerts all the attitude of a macho action lead, but can never deliver, a gag which never gets old), and our lack of certainty about the plot is really unimportant. It's just a fun, fun movie, and it's a shame it's poor box office returns relegated Carpenter to making films with lower budgets.