Starring Elliot Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Jim Bouton, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Cool. Distinct. Languorous.
Det. Green: Your name Marlowe?
Philip Marlowe: No, my name is Sidney, uh, Jenkins.
Det. Green: Come on inside, Marlowe, we want to talk to you.
The famous Philip Marlowe, private eye, star of Raymond Chandler’s classic mystery novels and several films, gets possibly his best adaptation in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. From the moment he wakes up in the opening scene, to the surprise of the finale, Marlowe (Gould), is out of his element. He still basically looks and sounds the way we’re accustomed to; Gould is sly, witty, infinitely cool, always wearing a suit and tie. It’s his surroundings that have changed (his neighbors don’t wear any clothes at all). Very loosely working with Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name, Marlowe gets involved with an alcoholic, self-destructive novelist, Roger Wade (Hayden), and Wade’s beautiful, unhappy wife, Eileen (van Pallandt), shortly after helping an old friend, Terry Lennox (charged with killing his wife) escape to Mexico. Other films that came before this one tried to transplant Marlowe to a more modern setting. The film simply titled Marlowe, for example, moved him to the ’60s, but The Long Goodbye doesn’t just “update” the material. It displaces the hero. He’s still essentially the romantic hero that he’s always been. Chandler described him as a “shop-soiled Sir Galahad,” in The High Window, but his loyalty and sense of honor seem out of touch here. In any case, this is a great film with an odd sense of humor and a unique style.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-