A private investigator helps a friend out of a pickle,
but ends up implicated in a murder because of it.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Leigh Brackett
Starring Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden,
Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Jim Bouton
Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
It’s films like The Long Goodbye that consistently remind me that the 70’s are by far and away my favorite decade in American cinematic history. There was a clear sense of relief with the Hays Code being gone and creators unleashing all kinds of cool ideas with new perspectives. Robert Altman went on a 70’s run that included MASH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, California Split, Nashville, 3 Women, and more. Elliott Gould has been a go to actor in Altman’s circle for a long time, but California Split and The Long Goodbye belong together as a double feature. He plays a relentless gambler in one and a private investigator in the other. I promise it will be four hours very well spent.
In The Long Goodbye, Elliott Gould plays private investigator Philip Marlowe who helps his buddy Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) out of a pickle by taking him from Los Angeles to Tijuana. When Marlowe returns home, there are police officers waiting for him. The next string of events are way more than Marlowe should handle as one man. His dedication to finding things out for himself puts him in danger over and over as he goes back and forth from LA to Mexico. Marlowe has to deal with Lennox’s mess that makes little sense until it makes the most sense.
The Long Goodbye is in the family of Chinatown, Night Moves, and Klute. Right up my alley and this one has a jaw dropping backdrop of sun washed Los Angeles. The cinematography provided by Vilmos Zsigmond is something else and when you see his career credits, it just makes sense. Elliott Gould is the star of the film and he’s damn good, but I have to shout out Sterling Hayden’s performance as Roger Wade, one of the most entertaining LA drunks I’ve ever seen on the screen. His house parties reminded me of Jack Horner’s house parties in Boogie Nights the same way the talky gambling scenes in California Split reminded me of Hard Eight. It’s no secret that Paul Thomas Anderson is a Robert Altman super fan and it’s no secret here at Filmgazm that I am a Paul Thomas Anderson super fan. I’m becoming a super fan of both as I dive into Altman’s rich history in the director's chair.