A down on his luck gambler links up with free spirit Elliot Gould at first to have some fun on, but then gets into debt when Gould takes an unscheduled trip to Tijuana. As a final act of ... See full summary »
Two convicts break out of Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1936 to join a third on a long spree of bank robbing, their special talent and claim to fame. The youngest of the three falls in ... See full summary »
Pinky is an awkward adolescent who starts work at a spa in the California desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie's room-mate. Millie is ... See full summary »
In the middle of the night, private eye Philip Marlowe drives his friend Terry Lennox to the Mexican border. When Marlowe returns home police are waiting for him and learns that Terry's wife Sylvia has been killed. He's arrested as an accessory but released after a few days and is told the case is closed since Terry Lennox has seemingly committed suicide in Mexico. Marlowe is visited by mobster Marty Augustine who wants to know what happened to the $350,000 Lennox was supposed to deliver for him. Meanwhile, Marlowe is hired by Eileen Wade to find her husband Roger who has a habit of disappearing when he wants to dry out but she can't find him in any any of his usual haunts. He finds him at Dr. Veringer's clinic and brings him. It soon becomes obvious to Marlowe that Terry's death, the Wades and Augustine are all somehow interconnected. Figuring out just what those connections are however will be anything but easy. Written by
Sterling Hayden did not have to hit any camera marks in his scenes. See more »
A toothpick suddenly disappears from Morgan's (Warren Berlinger) mouth while he is driving Marlowe home from jail. See more »
I apologize for this intrusion, Mrs. Wade, but your husband dislikes paying his bills. I'm sorry; in future I must refuse to accept him as a patient.
Well we don't accept you as a doctor, quack.
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A neo-noir haiku for a crumbling 70's Los Angeles.
Much like the 30's hard-bop jazz music that opens the movie, The Long Goodbye appears on the surface to take its cue from classic film-noir. No surprise here, it IS based after all on the Raymond Chandler novel by the same name, Chandler as iconic a figure in the noir realm as you're likely to get and responsible for some of the most distinctly classic moments of the genre (Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, also Strangers on a Train for Hitchcock). But instead of rehashing styles and themes from a bygone era of film-making, slaving them in the service of a hip or serviceable crime flick that passes the time, Altman instead takes Chandler's film-noir exoskeleton, strips it of all fat and hangs on it his own unique take.
Elliot Gould is Phillip Marlowe. Scruffy, sardonic and alienated private dick with a smart mouth and a cigarette eternally glued to his lips. He's cool alright but not the suave kind of cool that would impress dames in the 40's. He seems constantly out of place, doomed to observe and comment in his witty repartee on what's going on around him or just let the chips fall where they may. And they do.
Chandler's story is as good as one would expect from such a patriarch of hardboiled hijinks and the screenplay matches it every step of the way. All the staples of a noir film are present, simultaneously fulfilling the genre promise of a Phillip Marlowe film and in the same time preparing the ground for Altman's take on it; murder, missing money, unhappy marriages, a private eye hired to investigate, twists and turns. The works. Sprawling and convoluted like the best of noirs usually are. The dialogue crackling with inventiveness, shedding toughguy lingo for a sense of playfulness, rolling in and out of the picture in a stream-of-consciousness way.
Some of the twists and characters seem to carry a sense of seething malice, a fleeting glimpse on the seemy underbelly of the Great American Beast, the scars and ugliness of Hollywood showing behind a faded facade of glamour, an escalating creepiness factor that recalls the later works of David Lynch, predating him by a good number of years as it does. The mousey Dr. Verringe and the whole clinic subplot reminded me of Lost Highway for example.
What really elevates The Long Goodbye in another level is Altman's direction and Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography. This is only my second Altman picture (after the very good McCabe and Mrs. Miller) but 2 hours in his presence were enough to leave an indelible sense that I'm watching the work of a director on top of his craft. Altman's camera is always on the move, slowly panning and zooming in and out of the frame, picking up details, guiding the eye but never getting in the middle of the story or screaming for attention. The whole thing has a naturalistic, subdued feel to it, what with the unobtrusive lighting and bleached-out, hazy look; no glitz or glamour here. Only the faded, long-gone impression of it.
The Long Goodbye is both a fantastic and somewhat hidden gem of 70's crime cinema and also one of the missing links in the evolution of noir, all the way from Sunset Blvd. to Mullholland Drive. Strongly recommended.
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