Monday, November 4, 2013

565. The Long Goodbye (1973)

Running Time: 112 minutes
Directed By: Robert Altman
Written By: Leigh Brackett, from novel by Raymond Chandler
Main Cast: Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson
Click here to view the trailer


Kicking off the second half of the "Altman Week" festivities with a film that oozes coolness, features fantastic performances from Elliott Gould and Sterling Hayden and uses the title tune to maximum effect - "The Long Goodbye".

We dealt with Philip Marlowe once in "The Big Sleep", when he was played by Humphrey Bogart and now we're dealing with him a second time, played BETTER (yes, I said it - commence in jumping down my throat) by Elliott Gould. It all starts with a hungry cat and late night trek to the grocery store for private investigator Philip Marlowe. Upon returning from the store, in the middle of the night, Marlowe is surprised by a visit from his long time friend Terry Lennox. Lennox has just had a seemingly nasty spat with his wife and he needs a lift to Tijuana (the film is set in L.A.). Marlowe agrees without asking too many questions and gets back home the next morning, where he's met by a few cops. One thing leads to another and after spending a few days in the cooler, Marlowe becomes privy to the information that Terry has apparently murdered his wife and Terry has killed himself in Mexico. Marlowe, continuing to hold his friend in high regard, refuses to believe that Terry would do such a thing, but before he can soak it all in, he gets hired by Eileen Wade (Van Pallandt). It seems her husband has gone missing and she hires Marlowe to help track him down. It doesn't take long for Marlowe to trace her husband, Roger Wade (Hayden), to a rehab clinic, where Marlowe busts him before he can even pay the bill. Marlowe escorts Roger back home to his wife (and his booze) and over the course of the next few days realizes that the Wade's may have something to do with the Lennox murder/suicide.

Elliott Gould appeared in twenty episodes of the sitcom Friends and I can tell you now that I'll never look at those twenty episodes the same again. Who knew that Mr. Gellar was such a bad ass? Well, a lot of you did, apparently - but I didn't! I have to say, I have to give a lot of credit to the opening hook of Marlowe trying to track down some cat food. I guess it made Marlowe seem more human and therefore, more relateable. I mean, we never saw Bogart going out of his way to try and fool his cat into thinking he bought the right brand of cat chow. Speaking of Bogart, was it just me or did Gould even seem to bear somewhat of a resemblance to Bogey? I think so. Bottom line, any enjoyment I got out of this film began and ended with Elliott Gould and he can kindly make his way to the list of actors that I want to see a lot more of, preferably his early work, as I'm sure now he's just phoning in here and there roles, cameos and what not.

Were there any flaws? Well, two notable ones that I want to talk about, but still, actually pretty minor ones too. First things first, is it just me or is Robert Altman a very horny director. First it was multiple scenes of seemingly unwarranted nudity in "Short Cuts" and now in "The Long Goodbye", I'm sure that the Marlowe's neighbors and the acts of nudity they committed were quite unwarranted and unneeded. It's nothing major and it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the movie, but it was there and I wanted to mention it. The second thing I want to bring up is the screwy plot and how, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't hinge on much. I guess that kind of seems to be the way with these Marlowe stories, how you sort of go down a rabbit hole and by the time you come out the other end, you forget why or how you got there. I guess the plot doesn't matter so much, especially in "The Long Goodbye" as Gould and his version of Marlowe. This, at times, almost reminded me a bit of "Fletch", how it seemed to want to mix comedy and private investigation. All in all, a solid film and a happy movie goer twas I.

RATING: 7/10  Not nearly as good as "Short Cuts", but I'd probably say it's a touch better than "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" (having overrated that one, by just a scosche). By the way, don't expect the monthly recap to be posted until something like Thursday or so.


November 4, 2013  5:45pm


  1. Don't forget Dick Powell as Marlowe in "Murder, My Sweet". I think he was my favorite of the 3, although Gould wasn't bad at all, and overall I thought this was the best of the Marlowe films. Or at least the ones in the Book. I haven't seen any others. (But if they were better, they would be in the Book instead of the 3 we have.)

    1. Definitely the best Marlowe film for me and you're the second person (well technically the first, though Ray's comment came up first on my feed) to remind me of Dick Powell, whom I forgot as Marlowe. I guess, maybe, that suggests what I thought of his Marlowe portrayal, although I did love Powell in those 30s musical, opposite Ruby Keeler.

  2. Good morning from a chilly UK, where, despite the clocks going back last weekend, I'm now getting up in the dark
    A good review, and well defended.
    You will no doubt predict I'm not a great fan of this one. I will not go as far as to dislike it, but.. hey, I'm such an out-dated kind of person that I find it difficult to a) See film Noir / Chandler in colour b) See Marlow as not Humph.. (Well, Dick Powell won me round by the end of Farewell my lovely).
    And yes, just what did a group of 'naked hippy chicks' add to the story?
    All that sounds more negative than I want to be... Major pluses were Sterling Hayden as Ernest Hemmingway err...Wade, and the delightfully threatening Henry Gibson as the clinic director.

    I'm afraid i just cannot see any physical similarity between Gould / Bogart..
    And on that subject.. We disagree about Humph... I really go out of my way to catch (later) Bogart pictures, and enjoy lmost anything he is in.. But I will certainly agree that if I lived near both Gould's Marlow and bogart's Marlow.. I'd rather go for a beer with Gould's. But i don't, so I'm afraid I'd rather watch Humph play Marlow.


    1. Chilly here in the states too Ray. Getting into the high 20s at night (that's fahrenheit).

      I guess you and I will just have to agree to disagree regarding Bogey, one guy that I cannot stand and will take the bare minimum from him.

      And I don't know what it was, but I DID see a slight physical resemblance there - maybe it was just me.


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