The Long Goodbye
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1: In the DVD Special Features, Director Robert Altman talks about his overall concept for this film. His problem was how does a filmaker take a character that is so much from a different era and place him in modern times? Altman came up with a conceptual framework: look at the film as though Philip Marlowe, Chandler's ace detective from the 1940's, has been sleeping for thirty years and wakes up in the 1970's. Altman called it his "Rip Van Marlowe" concept. He thought of the film this way because he wanted to place the classic 1940 Marlowe sense of integrity and ethical code in the free-wheeling Seventies. This idea is ingenious and fits Eliott Gould's hip but outsider acting style to a tee.
2: Altman keeps the camera moving at all times. The lens does not jerk around in a mise en scene way, but more with long, smooth tracking and pan shots. This gives the movie a great feeling of constant action and forward movement, even when folks are just talking. The camera movement is done in such a smooth way, it seems very natural - as if you, the viewer, were really watching the action and simply turning your head to follow the flow of life.
3: The movie theme song is beautiful and was written by Johnny Mercer. It has a classic feel, and it dominates the sound of the film. Altman has put this haunting melody everywhere; in the sound of a doorbell, in the tune played in a Mexican funeral, in songs that come over half-heard radios - everywhere. It is the song the small time lounge piano player is trying to learn in the background of one scene, and it is the song that you will find yourself humming once the film is over. All this is almost done on a subliminal level, and it is brilliant.Read more ›
Well, seeing it again, nearly 34 years later, I now realize I was totally wrong! The film is brilliant, a carefully-crafted color Noir, with Gould truly remarkable as a man of morals in a period (the 1970s) lacking morality. Perhaps it isn't Raymond Chandler, but I don't think he'd have minded Altman's 'spin', at all!
In the first sequence of the film, Marlowe's cat wakes him to be fed; out of cat food, the detective drives to an all-night grocery, only to discover the cat's favorite brand is out of stock, so he attempts to fool the cat, emptying another brand into an empty can of 'her' food. The cat isn't fooled by the deception, however, and runs away, for good...
A simple scene, one I thought was simply Altman quirkiness, in '73...but, in fact, it neatly foreshadows the major theme of the film: betrayal by a friend, and the price. As events unfold, Marlowe would uncover treachery, a multitude of lies, and self-serving, amoral characters attempting to 'fool' him...with his resolution decisive, abrupt, and totally unexpected!
The casting is first-rate. Elliott Gould, Altman's only choice as Marlowe, actually works extremely well, BECAUSE he is against 'type'. Mumbling, bemused, a cigarette eternally between his lips, he gives the detective a blue-collar integrity that plays beautifully off the snobbish Malibu 'suspects'.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Director Robert Altman was as good as any American cinema director of his time and place. This particular "homage" to detective-noir literature is perfectly on target. Read morePublished 20 days ago by David G Maurer
****SPOILERS INCLUDED**** The Long Goodbye is my favorite film of my favorite director, Robert Altman. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Massachusetts Cinephile
Elliot Gould at his best. A Robert Altman picture from a Raymond Chandler novel, now set in the early 70's with hippy girls next door and a local crime boss who would feel just as... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dave Soltz
Of all of the goodbyes there has ever been or ever will be, this was definitely one of them.Published 2 months ago by Ronald C. Miihlbach