Monday, May 08, 2006

The Essential Collection: The Long Goodbye

The essential collection are films that I have already seen and own that I consider some of my favorites . All of these films I have seen before and for the most part, they received a grade of 9 or 10 with some exceptions. As I re-watch these films, they will get a post under being part of the Essential Collection. The latest edition to the collection is The Long Goodbye, from 1973 by Robert Altman. I'm a little up and down when it comes to Altman films, but this is definitely my favorite of what I have seen of his work. What really appeals to me is that Altman has reinvented Philip Marlowe from the tough Humphrey Bogart character of 1940s L.A. and placed him in 1970s L.A., all frumpy and mumbling, played by Elliot Gould. It can be seen by some to be a disatrous move, but I think it was brilliant. The concept of "Rip Van Marlowe" is key here, as it seems as Marlowe had been asleep for thirty years only to wake in the 70s and be completely out of place. I really like Gould's portrayal of Marlowe, nothing like Bogart's, but something that still makes him sympathetic. The story is a typical winding Raymond Chandler plot with a lot of gaps not clearly filled in. Plot was never that important to Chandler and it's really not here, as the characters that inhabit the film really shine, especially Sterling Hayden and Henry Gibson. The Long Goodbye is often a forgotten film of Altman's, and while it's certainly of a certain time, there are plenty of things to like about it, especially Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography.

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