The Long Goodbye (1973)

Raymond Chandler’s cynically idealistic hero, Philip Marlowe, has been played by everyone from Humphrey Bogart to James Garner–but no one gives him the kind of weirdly affect-less spin that Elliott Gould does in this terrific Robert Altman reimagining of Chandler’s penultimate novel. Altman recasts Marlowe as an early ’70s L.A. habitué, who gets involved in a couple of cases at once.

The most interesting involves a suicidal writer (Sterling Hayden in a larger-than-life performance) whom Marlowe is supposed to keep away from malevolent New-Ageish guru Henry Gibson. A variety of wonderfully odd characters pop up, played by everyone from model Nina Van Pallandt to director Mark Rydell to ex-baseballer Jim Bouton. And yes, that is Arnold Schwarzenegger (in only his second movie) popping up as (what else?) a muscleman. Listen for the title song: It shows up in the strangest places.


Robert Altman (Short Cuts, Gosford Park) directs Elliott Gould (Friends, Ocean’s Eleven) as the chain-smoking, wisecracking private eye Philip Marlowe who drives a buddy from LA to the Tijuana border and returns home to an apartment full of cops who arrest him for abetting the murder of his friend’s wife. After Marlowe’s release, following the reported suicide in Mexico of his friend, a beautiful woman hires him to locate her alcoholic and mercurial husband.

See the lyrics for The Long Goodbye under the video:

There’s a long goodbye

And it happens everyday

When some passerby

Invites your eye

To come her way

Even as she smiles

A quick hello

You’ve let her go

You’ve let the moment fly

Too late you’d turn your head

You’d know you’ve said

The long goodbye

Can you recognise the pain

On some other street

Two people meet

As in a dream

Running for a plane

Through the rain

If the heart is quicker than the eye

They could be lovers

Until they die

It’s too late to try

When a missed hello

Becomes the long goodbye

Music composed by John Williams for The Long Goodbye (1973), performed here by Dave Grusin.

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