Thursday, August 13, 2009

44. The Long Goodbye

44. The Long Goodbye
Before watching this film, I would have never, in a million years said Elliot Gould was a sexy man. He came before my time. He was an old man to me. But oh my, Phillip Marlow is a sexy man. His best friend is a cat and the cat is in charge. His neighbors are a group of party girl sirens always begging for his attention. But, he doesn't pay them any mind. He knows better. And so begins Robert Altman's take on the most classic of all Noir characters.
This Marlow is the coolest private dick around. He takes every situation in stride. Everything is OK by him. He has a kind of cool elegance of movement and speech that lets you know that something is going on inside. He's already two steps ahead of the bad guy and, if he's not, he can roll with the punches.
The story is pretty standard noir fare. His best friend's wife is murdered and the friend is on the run. At the same time, another case falls in his lap featuring a lovely lady with a missing husband. Unrelated cases that reveal themselves to be connected underneath. Our hero has to figure out what's going on while being watched by the cops and the mob. I don't want to give more away but suffice to say such a simple description doesn't come close to expressing the complexity of the mystery.
This movie came out in 1973 and you get a real sense of the time. Admittedly, Altman's direction is more concerned with style than anything but, I love the hardboiled detective re-cast as shabby hipster. Its so obvious that Spike from Cowboy Bebop is a clone of this character. He's the loose limbed cool cat with a bad-ass hiding underneath. Even his shaggy mop of hair and ever present skinny tie are the same. Some may find the story rambling but it fits the nature of Marlow and the end is a kick in the pants. I wouldn't call it a twist ending but I didn't see it coming.

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