The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen Part II: The Long Goodbye

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If you’ve gone to college, you’ve undoubtedly watched and loved The Big Lebowski. It’s likely that you’ve thought to yourself, “Cool! White Russians!” Maybe you were impressed by the humor, maybe it was Sam Elliot’s slick western narration, or maybe you’re just a stoner who likes seeing other stoners on screen. It’s doubtful you appreciated the classic film noir elements present, the way its story is similar to classics such as The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity, but they are there nonetheless. It’s an updated take on noir, no doubt, moving the detective from the 1940’s to the early 90’s, and it is in this respect that Lebowski owes a huge debt to one of the best movies you’ve never seen: The Long Goodbye.

goodbye

Directed by Robert Altman, The Long Goodbye follows the classic detective Phillip Marlowe (Played by Elliot Gould here, and once played by Bogart in 1946’s The Big Sleep) in a twisting story kicked off by Marlowe’s desire to clear his friends name after he is accused of murder. The story is adapted from Raymond Chandler’s novel also titled The Long Goodye, but the movie takes some liberties with the story that really set it apart. Like Lebowski, The Long Goodbye is set in the time of the film’s production, in this case the early 1970’s.

I don’t want to go into the plot here, since that’s most of the draw of a detective movie, but suffice it to say that it twists and turns with the best of them. The acting is also excellent. Gould does an exceptional job of playing Marlowe, the quintessentially smart-mouthed detective. He gives shit to everyone and takes a fair share in return, yet there’s something so Lebowski about him. His place is a shithole, he has virtually no personal life, and his one friend even calls him “a born loser.” It’s really incredible to watch. The movie features noir veteran Sterling Hayden as a drunken old author who’s absolutely menacing to watch as he goes into his tantrums. Making a small cameo as a jacked-as-hell bodyguard is the governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Long Goodbye also features Mark Rydell as the Jewish gangster Marty Augustine. His act of intentionally deforming his girlfriend’s face has subsequently appeared in many movies since.

But it’s the setting that’s really the star in the Long Goodbye. 1970’s LA is a strange land as we learn. Marlowe’s neighbors are a group of female nudists (nice) and they sit in a circle on the deck all day chanting. When someone asks what they’re doing Marlowe tells them “It’s something called yoga.” There is a mental hospital run by a short, creepy and threatening man. It has to be seen to be believed. Despite the fact that I liked the additions made to the movie from the book purists hated the idea of changing the story so much. But fuck them, they’re wrong. This movie rules. Go watch it now. Besides, how can a movie be not kick ass if its tagline is “Nothing says goodbye like a bullet.”

– Meller

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. By the way rook, that’s the picture you put up? Not the bad-ass one of elliot gould holding a gun? Weak sauce. Weak as hell.

  2. You wouldn’t know a good detective if he kicked you in the ass…Fletch? Now HE’s a good detective.
    I’ll have a steak sandwich. On you, meller.

  3. Personally, I like the one I had originally put up, but it’s your article, your decision. Trifecta updated.


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