The Long Goodbye
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Leigh Brackett based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
Marlowe is introduced to us waking up in the middle of the night to feed his cat, who disdains the food offered so he has to go out and buy the nicer stuff. I mean, anyone who’s ever owned a cat knows that feel where the cat decides not to eat what’s offered. It’s a really cute ginger cat too. This sequence, and Marlowe’s grumbled complaints as he goes about doing exactly what the cat wants are what made me love him straight away.
The movie is a very low key Noir, bit different because of how it’s in the seventies. The tropes are totally familiar, the beaten down P.I. helping out a friend in the middle of the night, getting arrested, getting a bad feeling after hearing that his friend has killed himself after killing his wife and a long line of investigative stops.
I’ve loved mysteries in a low key way since L.A. Confidential blew my mind back in 1997. It’s not a passionate love I have for them, but a casual thing. Every now and then I’ll do something like read a classic Noir pulp novel or watch something like this. I enjoy the hardened characters so much, they’re so much fun to play in a roleplaying game which gives me an in to loving them a bit more.
The film is beautifully shot, especially the sequences in Mexico where the lushness of the landscape is shown off. The luxe interiors and the more claustrophobic crappiness of Marlowe’s own apartment.
Does it make me love the people? I love Marlowe. It’s hard to care too much about the other characters, because they’re generally fleeting, awful people or terrible dames. Dames makes me think of Sadie Doyle making fun of Franks’s friend Pterodactyl Jones who is a walking cliche based on characters like Marlowe. Good times. Movies like this both create and perpetuate these tropey stereotypes and dedicate themselves to them.
Bechdel test: None of the women talk to anyone but men.
Harry: Those girls that live next door to you, you know what I think? I think they’re a couple of lesbians. That’s what I think.
Marlowe: well, what makes you say that?
Harry: Well, look at them up there, doing all those contortions together, and with no clothes on.
M: oh, they’re just doing yoga, I dunno what it is but it’s yoga.
Marlowe: Why don’t you go get a couple of sandcrabs and go stick them up your nose?
Marlowe: Nobody cares but me.
Terry Lennox: Well that’s you, Marlowe. You’ll never learn, you’re a born loser.
Marlowe: Yeah, I even lost my cat.
State of Mind: I dunno, I do love this kind of story but perhaps because of the familiar tropes it felt a bit predictable and was a bit on the slow side as a result. It’s good enough that I’ll watch it again though.