The Long Goodbye (1973)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  7 March 1973 (USA)
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Detective Philip Marlowe tries to help a friend who is accused of murdering his wife.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nina van Pallandt ...
Jim Bouton ...
Warren Berlinger ...
Jo Ann Brody ...
Jo Ann Eggenweiler
Stephen Coit ...
Detective Farmer (as Steve Coit)
Jack Knight ...
Pepe Callahan ...
Vincent Palmieri ...
Vince (as Vince Palmieri)
Pancho Córdova ...
Doctor (as Pancho Cordoba)
Enrique Lucero ...


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nothing says goodbye like a bullet. See more »


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Release Date:

7 March 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Tod kennt keine Wiederkehr  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie was part of a predominantly 1970s revival cycle of pictures adapted from novels by Raymond Chandler. The films included Marlowe (1969), The Big Sleep (1978), The Long Goodbye (1973) and Farewell, My Lovely (1975) as well as Double Indemnity (1973) made for television. See more »


A toothpick suddenly disappears from Morgan's (Warren Berlinger) mouth while he is driving Marlowe home from jail. See more »


Detective: Listen - what are you here for, Marlowe?
Philip Marlowe: [smearing fingerprint ink under his eyes] Well I'm here 'cause I'm gettin' ready for the big game Saturday. You know, we're playing Notre Dame and I hope I catch a touchdown pass.
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Featured in The 78th Annual Academy Awards (2006) See more »


The Long Goodbye
by John Williams and Johnny Mercer
Performed by The Dave Grusin Trio, Jack Sheldon, Clydie King, Jack Riley, Morgan Ames, Aluminum Band, The Tepoztlan Municipal Band
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User Reviews

Altman's mischievous take on a cinema archetype
20 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

The very embodiment of '70s Hollywood genre revisionism, Robert Altman's film of The Long Goodbye stands as one of his most accessible, wittily misanthropic films, and probably the finest performance of Elliot Gould's career to date.

A warning for Raymond Chandler purists: you probably won't like this film. Altman and screenwriter Leigh Brackett had quite a task in adapting Chandler's second-last novel to the screen, for in it the 'knight errant' Phillip Marlowe comes over more like a prudish sap. Altman and Brackett have streamlined the narrative, removed peripheral characters, and – crucially – transformed Marlowe into a murkier, more comically ambiguous protagonist.

In Altman's and Gould's hands, Marlowe is laconically relaxed, murmuring, alternately amused and annoyed at the world. Like Chandler's hero, he is an outsider, a spectator, everywhere he goes. Unlike the literary Marlowe, Gould's character seems washed up on the shores of an unfamiliar land, his nobility as crumpled and stale as his suit.

Along for the ride are the archetypal Chandler villains and victims: self-hating celebrities, young wives trapped in loveless marriages, crooked doctors, low-rent psychopathic gangsters, bored cops, flunkies lost out of time. Typically, the milieux Marlowe moves in range from the affluence of the Malibu Colony to the cells of the County Jail. Altman, however, wishes to make a film in and about 1973; the film is shot through with the psychic reverberations of the end of hippiedom and the remoteness of the 'Me Generation'.

Another Altman touch is his openly expressed contempt for Hollywood and its conventions. As if to acknowledge the artificiality of a private detective story in the midst of 1970s Los Angeles, the film is suffused with jokey references to cinema. Bookended with 'Hooray for Hollywood', the film shows gatekeepers impersonating movie stars, characters changing their names for added class, hoods enacting movie clichés simply because that's where they learnt to behave. Even Marlowe himself refers to the artifice when talking to the cops: 'Is this where I'm supposed to say 'What's all this about?' and he says 'Shut up, I ask the questions' ?'

As for the supporting cast, Sterling Hayden shines out as the beleaguered novelist Roger Wade. There is more than a touch of Hemingway in Hayden's bluff, blustering, vulnerable old hack. Baseball champ and sportscaster Jim Bouton is casually mysterious as Marlowe's friend Terry Lennox, Laugh-In alumnus Henry Gibson is suitably greasy as Dr Verringer, actor/director Mark Rydell (best known for 'On Golden Pond') is convincingly chilling as gangster Marty Augustine, and Nina van Pallandt lends a dignified, defiant pathos to her role as Eileen Wade.

Special note must be made of Vilmos Zsigmond's tremendous photography, employing his early 'flashing' style of exposure to lend Los Angeles a suitably sultry, bleached-out aura. Also deserving attention is John Williams' ingeniously minimalist score. Comprised solely of pseudo-source music, the score is a myriad of variations on a single song, appearing here as supermarket muzak, there as a party singalong, elsewhere as a late night radio tune.

The film's controversial ending is utterly antithetical to Chandler's vision. The message from Altman, however, is loud and clear: Chandler's world no longer exists – if indeed it ever did.

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