Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Long Goodbye

I thought I had seen The Long Goodbye before, a 1953 Raymond Chandler Philip Marlow Story with a young Elliott Gould in the role of this 1973 made film. It was only when reading the background that I remembered the other film was the Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and hen remade with Robert Mitcham. No one has been able to better the Bogart Philip Marlow or the Bogart anything and Elliott has played too many roles as Elliott Gould to be anything other than Elliott Gould so this is in fact an Elliott Gould detective film and where I am on the side of the police who find him insufferable and unhelpful , This arises because I am inclined to have a favourable view of the British Police Detective in general and forget that the USA film portrayal of their police as being as best lacking any kind of professionalism and at worst prejudiced and corrupt.

The story begins with Marlow brought in for questioning after the discovery of the murder of the wife of a long standing friend who contacted Marlowe on the night of the murder, met him in an anxious and afraid state and admitted he had a row with his wife. The friend is then found dead while Marlow is in custody, and apparent suicide and therefore the police in their stock fashion decided to close the case. Marlow had in fact taken the friend from Los Angeles to border with Mexico at Tijuana.

Marlow returns to his day job and accepts a request to locate the alcoholic writer husband of the stock platinum blonde curvaceous female who feature in the Chandler writings. His first call is the detox clinic previously used where he is told lies only to find that the writer is there, wanting to break out and appears to be held against his will for non payment of previous fees. Marlow then learns that the writer and his wife knew his dead friend and the writer’s wife reinforces Marlowe’s view that someone else killed the wife and the suicide verdict is questionable.

Marlowe is then taken temporary prisoner by a vicious gangster so dangerous that he physically hurts his mistress to demonstrate that, her I love, You I don’t even like, thus making the point as directly and strongly as he can that he wants the third of a million dollars owed him by the suicide dead friend. He then finds the gangster relationship with the writer and his wife.

However before the significance of this is explained Marlow learns that the writer as having an affair with the wife of his dead friend and that the writer’s wife, who appears to have set her cap at Marlow, believed that her husband was capable of killing the woman and who then appears to take his own life drowning in the sea. The police do not believe this story saying that he alibi has been checked and confirmed. They are right you see.

Marlowe returns to Mexico where he discovers that his friend is alive and has bribed official over his suicide death story. He admits that he killed his wife because of an affair with the wife of the writer, and not the other way around. So the police were right about this too. Worse has followed. The writer’s wife admits she was holding the money for her lover and returns it to the vicious criminal who lets Marlow go. He then passes the woman on her way to her lover in Mexico, having shot him dead for the killing betrayal and the hassle Marlowe has experienced. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the vicious gangster and Stirling Hayden the writer (Ernest Hemingway style). Critics generally shared my view that Altman and Gould appear half heartened in their realization of Chandler’s Marlowe

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