RogerBW's Blog

The Long Goodbye 29 July 2021

1973 noir-esque, dir. Robert Altman, Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt: IMDb / allmovie. So one night the private eye's buddy asks him for a lift…

This is the book Chandler wrote while his wife was dying, and it shows. (If anything, the film is more upbeat.) But this was the last of the films I watched for the Ribbon of Memes Noir-a-Thon, and it left me completely cold. Intrusive John Williams soundtrack (and always the same tune, except for the closing moments); arty shots for the sake of artiness rather than to establish any kind of atmosphere; everything is broken, everyone is rotten, nothing is even worth getting out of bed for. Why even bother?

It's not that it's in colour: Chinatown managed that, with wide spaces and sunshine too. Maybe it's the modern setting: Watergate's happened, and universal corruption now has a different kind of smell about it, a tawdry smell that says that merely covering up a suicide isn't even in the big leagues any more.

Many people love this film. Maybe you'll be one of them. But if you like Chandler, this isn't him at his best, and if you don't like Chandler, why watch a film inspired by one of his books? What's the point of being a man out of time, the last honorable man, if you're basically just someone else's patsy anyway? This Marlowe is for most of the film not the knight errant but the sucker, the predictable man who thereby makes a fine pawn in someone else's scheme.

Once more if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

Tags: film reviews

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