Of all the Neo Noirs out there this is one I find myself rather unfamiliar with. I guess because I always associate Raymond Chandler’s works with film Noir. I love those movies for their dialogue which Chandler knocked out of the f**king park, and also for the character Philip Marlowe, one of my favorite heroes because of the fact that he walks around with a bottle of Rye in his pocket which is his Popeye’s Spinach. When I think of bad ass action stars I picture Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan and Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe. It’s hard to believe Bogart only made one movie as Philip Marlowe, his performance is so dominating that the name and the image can hardly be separated.
Robert Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’ takes the character out of the monochrome 50s and into the soft jaded colors of the early 70s. The dialogue isn’t as snappy as the film noirs of old and thankfully so as it’s not trying to be that but rather a movie which brings the morality of another era to the present day. Philip Marlowe isn’t the tough guy he was before, he’s a fish out of water. He’s in a time where the bad guy will kill you instead of knocking you over the head.
This time round Elliot Gould plays the detective and I rather like his portrayal. It’s not a straight laced homage to the earlier movies nor is it running over old ground like Robert Mitchum’s go at Marlowe was. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mitchum’s Marlowe but I felt he came to the role too late and his performance is lost on an audience looking for something different. That’s what Gould brings to the role. His performance is dry yet not playing it up to 1950s levels. He knows he is a fish out of water. He doesn’t try to be the tough guy he knows Marlowe can no longer be in this age. He plays it like a man who’s just along for the ride.
What I really like about this film is that it takes the setting to a new era with the same character in much the same way as the Bond movies do. If Philip Marlowe is ever to make a comeback in the 21st century then ‘The Long Goodbye’ is the pattern to follow. As Elliot Gould said, “the time is always now”. The actor is still interested in playing the character even all these years later with the hope to make a movie out of the story ‘The Curtain’ which he bought the rights too. He described the film as being set in present day with Marlowe still being Marlowe.
Favorite Quote: “He’s got a girl, I got a cat.” – Philip Marlowe