Long Goodbye, The (1973)

The Long Goodbye (1973), directed by Robert Altman.

After Philip Marlowe takes a friend to Mexico he goes to jail for several days. The friend's wife is dead and the friend committed suicide. Is any of it true? His next case involves a missing husband from the same neighborhood and an erratic gangster looking for a lost suitcase of money. Want to bet all this is related?

This updating of Chandler is both like and unlike the books and 1940s films. Marlowe is now less of a knight errant and more of a goofball always talking to himself and the cat. But he still has a nagging need to get at the truth and doesn't cooperate with the police very well. We still have a seedy private eye ambience, and doctors, police and wealthy clients are all dangerously unreliable.

I have two problems: it's hard to take Elliott Gould seriously (but it's only a semi-serious role) and I don't seem to like Robert Altman (see Quintet (1979) and Nashville (1975)). The casual meandering, ad-libbed dialogue, limp comedy and dead-end bits irritate me.

Sterling Hayden (who hated acting) said this was the first of his performances he could stand watching. It looks like drunken, improvised ranting.

Brief nudity and a scene of shock violence. David Carradine and Arnold Schwarzenegger have uncredited bit parts.