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USA 1973
Directed by
Robert Altman
112 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Long Goodbye

There have been various incarnations (Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell, and Robert Mitchum come to mind) of Raymond Chandler's famous private dick, Philip Marlow, but it is hard to imagine purists being happy with Elliott Gould’s portrayal of him in The Long Goodbye, updated by Altman to contemporary L.A.

When Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton), Marlowe's best friend, visits the crumpled detective at 3 a.m. and asks for a ride to Mexico, Marlowe doesn't ask any questions. But soon after the police arrive and tell him that they have found Lennox's wife dead. Marlowe gets hauled off to the cop shop but is let go after three days after Lennox kills himself leaving a signed confession to the murder. Marlowe doesn't believe either of these stories and as he begins work on a related case he becomes increasingly sure he is right.

Altman is a director who likes to play with filmic conventions and here he gives us an almost cartoon version of Chandler’s Marlowe.  Indeed watching Gould muttering to himself one can’t help but think of Robin Williams’ in Altman's Popeye (1980) whilst the topless hippy chicks who live across from Marlowe,  Mark Rydell's over-the-top  gangster boss and Henry Gibson's shonky psychiatrist all are symptoms of the director’s love of the irreverent (as are the six different versions of the title song)

Altman’s style is something that you either respond to or not. In this case I belong to the latter group although the ending nearly makes up for Chandler being so grievously messed around with.




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