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
When Marty Augustine and his henchmen threaten to castrate Marlowe, Augustine says, "Harry, your father was a mohel", but the DVD subtitles read "Harry, your father was immoral". A mohel (pronounced "moil")is a person who performs circumcisions on Jewish males. See more »
The first time I saw this movie was back in the seventies and this was the film that won me over to Robert Altman's great works in the American cinema.
Granted, at the time of the movie's release Raymond Chandler purists naturally didn't appreciate the transformation his knight errant private eye underwent. But nowadays, the viewer must see the film for its great direction, terrific performances, Leigh Brackett's excellent screenplay and the fine cinematography. Not to mention simply the challenge of understanding a truly baffling plot. As in all of Altman's works, this one is peppered with offbeat characters and subtle (and some not-so subtle) situations that positively take you by surprise. As a maverick figure in Hollywood, Altman made sure "iconoclast" was stamped all over this film, it's a true nose-thumbing at every institution that Hollywood reveres; idealistic movie heroes, neat happy-ever-after endings, big budget spectacles, dependable money-making conventions and all around ass-kissing.
But the real treat here is, of course, Elliott Gould, and I don't believe that it's the best thing he's ever done on screen, as many think. He's certainly turned out even better performances than this one throughout the past 3 decades. But yet, in The Long Goodbye, Gould is just so much fun to watch, especially when he's being interrogated by the police or just muttering lines like, "He's got a girl, I got a cat" or "a melon convention" when he gives up trying to get his topless next-door neighbors' attention.
An interesting thing to note at the end of the film - we see the back shot of Marlowe walking away and that to me, was the private eye's closing shot, but then we have a front shot of Elliott Gould who begins playing his harmonica and then continues on up the road doing his little number, dancing a jig, etc. And to me that shows where Marlowe left off and where Gould takes over. So they weren't one and the same after all. Once again, a statement to those who would be too quick to take the Marlowe myth seriously.
The Long Goodbye is vintage Altman, a masterwork to be savoured forever.
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