The Long Goodbye

1973

The Long Goodbye

Critics Consensus

The Long Goodbye is a cool as ice mystery that retains Robert Altman's idiosyncratic sensibilities.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 33

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,242
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Movie Info

"It's OK with me...." Applying his deconstructive eye to the "film noir" tradition, Robert Altman updated Raymond Chandler in his 1973 version of Chandler's novel, The Long Goodbye. Smart-aleck, cat-loving private eye Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) is certain that his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) isn't a wife-killer, even after the cops throw Marlowe in jail for not cooperating with their investigation into Lennox's subsequent disappearance. Once he gets out of jail, Marlowe starts to conduct his own search when he discovers that mysterious blonde Eileen Wade (Nina Van Pallandt), who hired him to find her alcoholic novelist husband Roger (Sterling Hayden), lives on the same Malibu street as the absent Lennox and his deceased spouse. As numerous variations on the title song play in unexpected places, Marlowe encounters a shady doctor (Henry Gibson), a bottle-wielding gangster (director Mark Rydell), and a guard aping Barbara Stanwyck (among other stars), before heading to Mexico to stumble onto the truth once and for all. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Long Goodbye

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (5)

  • Raymond Chandler's sentimental foolishness is the taking-off place for Robert Altman's heady, whirling sideshow of a movie, set in the early-seventies L.A. of the stoned sensibility.

    Apr 18, 2016 | Full Review…
  • The Long Goodbye is a gloriously inspired tribute to Hollywood that never loses sight of what Los Angeles has become.

    Jan 9, 2012 | Full Review…
  • The Long Goodbye attacks film noir with three of his most cherished tools: Whimsy, spontaneity and narrative perversity.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • [Altman] attempts the impossible and pulls it off.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 5/5
  • Elliott Gould in the lead seems to relish the joke of serving up Marlowe in a radically different way.

    Apr 17, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • If you dig Chandler, you'll certainly find Brackett and her script an interesting journey. Dive on into a world of cold hearts, warm guns, flaming passion, and smart mouths.

    May 5, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Long Goodbye

  • Feb 02, 2019
    Imagine walking down a riotous Bourbon Street in New Orleans one blurry Mardi Gras evening while following your best bud, who's not quite drunk but has had a few, and you'll get the sense Robert Altman and Elliot Gould convey in their 1970's spin on 1940's detective Philip Marlowe, which is kinda cool actually. The fact that very little of what's going on making any kind of real sense seems to be annoyingly quibblesome - just hang on. Seldom not interesting.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 29, 2014
    An intricate film noir satire that has all the elements that we expect from a Raymond Chandler story, only this time the protagonist of The Big Sleep is updated to the 1970s with a shocker in the end and a delicious melancholy song that will stay in your head for a long time.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 12, 2014
    Elliot Gould as Philip Marlowe is one smug dude. This juicy piece of film noir is shot from the perspective a laissez faire, anachronistic detective trying to unpack the mystery of a friend's death. The plot can often seem as lazy as Gould's demeanor, but by the time we get to the end of what has become a revenge flick, viewers realize they have been led along mazily into a conclusive and tidy plot-twist of an ending. Solid stuff from Robert Altman.
    Jeff L Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2013
    Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye" isn't only in my mind his greatest achievment, it is one of the ten greatest film I've seen to date. It follows the private detector Phillip Marlowe who had had other appearances in film. This time around he was played by the amazing Elliot Gould, who fits his role like a custom made glove. If that even exists. Marlowe was a wise guy, everyone saw it, and everyone has an opinion of Marlowe. We seem him shocked once in the movie, it was the coke bottle scene. One of the few scenes of true violence in the film. It's a scarring and relentless scene, and Marlowe is visibly shaken. For the rest of the film he's wise as can be, and walks around as if he's invincible. No matter what's going on in the back of his mind, he's concerned with his cat who ran away. We never know the fate of his cat, and we can only hope it doesn't turn out like his other friend. Both of his pals are gone by the end, Marlowe doesn't sweat it though. There's a lot to be said about the similarities between this and Polanski's "Chinatown", another one of my favorites. Both have a smart ass detective, who's sly but never boastful. In Polanski's film the detective is played by Jack Nicholson. Who in my mind has obvious similarities with Elliot Gould. Both detectives revolve around the woman who's involved in there case, and the woman in both films views them as puppets. Both women have a breakdown forced by the detective. The sexual tension is so familiar, and these films only have a year between one another. They both deal with corruption in the police force and cover ups. "Chinatown" digs much deeper, but Robert Altman exposes it too. I believe Mr.Ebert described Marlow's character the best. He lives in the seventies but him mind is in the fifties. He's the odd man out in this film, he dresses differently, talks independently, and is the lone man in smoking. The only man similar to him is Mr. Wade, played by Sterling Hayden, with his shaggy beard and dirty habits. But even he the alcoholic is more blended into the crowd. The film has three scenes that stick. Three of the finest scenes in film history. The coke bottle, which I already spoke on. The public argument as drowning scene, which Gould, Hayden, and Pallandt show us true acting all at once. And finally the concluding scene, the wieght off the shoulder, the revenge. They were perfectly shot, and truly this was flawless in a technical sense. The camera work, the sound track, the writing, it was brilliant film noir. The scenes were captivating picture of symmetry. We have the black and white Marlowe in the middle, then we flowery colors and trees forming a wall around him. I view this film a true craftsman ship. Everything fit, not a thing out of place. I feel like the elusiveness is what makes it great, we never know the true color of the main characters. They are covered with something outside them. We see there baggage, but not there thoughts. The audience doesn't know what the thought process behind these people are. Making anything possible, it all unwraps itself, with twists and turns. I've called Altman dry many times before, but this was far from boring. Despite having long in the title, this is an entertaining film, that I loved. It's amongst my ten favorites now, and I'm sure I'll only enjoy it more as time goes on. 4.5 stars++
    Daniel D Super Reviewer

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