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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It`s OK by me, 21 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Long Goodbye [DVD] (1973) (DVD)
In 1973, Robert Altman caught the special wry, shy, impudent, gangly, jazzy, tousled quality of Elliott Gould to a tee. In The Long Goodbye - a delirious riff on Chandler`s penultimate novel - he also showed LA as a boho Eden-after-the-fall filled with unbalanced well-dressed gangsters, scantily-dressed neighbourhood dolly birds, and tense, amoral middle-aged wives. Down these mean-enough streets ambles a version of Philip Marlowe that isn`t as far from Bogart`s (or Mitchum`s from the same decade) as one might imagine. Those who complain that this isn`t much like Chandler`s long, elegiac novel either haven`t read it lately or are missing the point, or most probably both.
I love the way Altman lets the plot hang fire for stretches at a time while we are entertained by Gould`s/Marlowe`s attempts to feed his cat, pass the time of day with the amiable girls across the way - "Oh, Mr Marlowe, you`re the nicest neighbour we`ve ever had" - or engage in backchat with whoever happens to cross his path. This is a man who`s only incidentally a private eye (Altman doesn`t seem too interested in his detective work or the reason he`s on a particular case) and who moves to a secret rhythm of his own, a hippy-jazz-stoner-shamus with an ongoing monologue in his head which, to our delight, we are made privy to.
There are some terrific performances, not least from sometime director Mark Rydell as an unpredictable, violent petty gangster, Nina van Pallandt as the rich-bitch wife, and a mightily indulged though still effective Sterling Hayden as a Hemingwayesque writer, pretty much playing himself, all piratical swagger - Hayden was himself a sea adventurer who would write the occasional book when back on dry land.
There`s also a very funny peach of a cameo by Ken Sansom, gate-guard of the Malibu Colony (where the wealthy live) who likes to do impressions of the stars for Marlowe before letting him through. His Stanwyck, Stewart and Grant are fine enough, but his Walter Brennan should have got him an Oscar nomination!
Beautifully shot by Vilmos Zsigmond and directed with careless flair by Altman, this is one of the most entertaining, if empty, films of the seventies.
Empty? Well, yes. The ending is, I supppose, cathartic, but it isn`t really earned by what`s gone before. Suddenly, we are shown a Marlowe who actually cares, after 100 minutes of duck-and-dive cute talk and chain-smoking, rough-diamond charm. It`s a sobering denouement and, as Marlowe is wont to say to almost anything during the course of the film, "It`s OK by me." But one is left curiously unsatisfied after the promise of what has gone before.
No matter, this is a wonderful film in its determinedly offbeat way, and I doubt Elliott Gould ever had a better role to suit his lopsided grin and shy, shambolic presence.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Nov 2012 12:45:46 GMT
GlynLuke, Well, you do like this one better than me,
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