Los Angeles private investigator Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter. Moseby tracks the daughter down, only to stumble upon something much more intriguing and sinister .
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
Easily one of Altman's best films and an early precursor to other films later in the decade by the director. The Long Goodbye is a fine transition in style to Altmans later films like "Nashville" and "A Wedding" Elliot Gould does an outstanding job portraying the outre detective Phillip Marlowe, using his mumbling, bumbling, smart ass speaking style, as a technique to keep the film under the illusion that everything is in motion, like the ocean waves in the film, Marlowe speaks in a sort of beatnik type "Daddy-O" style combined with a smooth talking private eye, and the result works perfectly. The film works like it is timed by a metronome, it rolls along, seamlessly in a way that only Altman can achieve, and like the rhythm of the waves and Marlowe's speech, the camera is constantly in motion as well. The roving camera does an excellent job of allowing the viewer to feel as though they are witnessing more action than actually exists on screen.
Wade (Sterling Hayden) is a fantastic Hemingway-esque writer in the film. Hayden's size and booming voice, in conjunction with his alcoholism and potential brutality, lend an aroma of unpredictableness to his character. Wade's beautiful wife, who has a mysterious bruise on her face, is like a timid, loyal animal, subjected to the whims of her over bearing master. Henry Gibson, who plays Wade's doctor, is excellent as a sort of despotic mouse, who frightens an elephant into conforming to his will, this irony is one of the films intriguing, bizarre twists.
This film works well as a character study, and is one of the best films of the seventies. A must see for every student of film. 9/10
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