The Long Goodbye (1973)

Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Leigh Brackett

The Long Goodbye was one of the most anticipated when I first sat down to write out a list of noirs to watch for this month, and that is for a few reasons. First and foremost simply reputation. The film has very good buzz about it from people I know, and also just in general standing. The second is the director, Robert Altman, whose films I always tend to enjoy, even though I have not seen all of them, including some of his better know (e.g. Nashville). I think too the intrigue of a neo-noir in the thick of all this great, older, black and white traditional stuff was a welcoming thought to break from what might otherwise start to run together, as enjoyable and as fun as it may be.

I wish I could come out at the end of this two hour film and tell you that it was everything and more, but I was just lukewarm on this film, and one of the more disappointing films in the marathon to this point (of course expectations didn’t help it). What was I really sitting there watching afterall? I mean don’t get me wrong here, there was a lot to like, and in fact I did, but storywise, this was one of the weaker films. It almost seemed like every plot line was a MacGuffin, inserted to make us think that the film actually had a plot as opposed to what it really was, which was Eilliot Gould being freaking awesome walking around being a smartass and talking with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth the whole time. Alright, that’s a stretch, it had a plot, but I did really think it played a major backseat to the style of the film.

Altman is often noted for his ability to assemble great casts of characters and bring their stories together into a nice package of a film, but this time, I felt like he takes the tugs and pulls on a single character and doesn’t do much with it at all. There is a certain amount of supporting characters, but the real story is with Marlowe (Gould). Sadly, he is pulled in too many directions and by the end of the film I didn’t really have an interest in even finding out the truth of the murder of his friend’s wife. Good performances to be sure, but at the end of the day, when the story itself is a disappointment, it is hard to overcome that to make a movie I am interested in. Really cool character and some good concepts, I just didn’t see it executed to the degree I was wanting. It didn’t click, didn’t mesh into something I could really ever get behind as being great filmmaking.

**1/2 – Good

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