Daniel's Review of The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye(1973)
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.