Close Up

8 - 20 January 2017: The Long Goodbye


The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman
1973 | 112 min | Colour | 35mm

"Echoing as much of Raymond Chandler’s novel as it does the author’s life, The Long Goodbye is perhaps Altman’s funniest valentine to Hollywood. While securing screenwriter Leigh Brackett, who co-wrote The Big Sleep, which solidified Humphrey Bogart as Chandler’s hard-boiled 1940s detective, Altman made his Philip Marlowe a vulnerable, droll and mumbling Elliott Gould. From the blithely ingenious soundtrack to the casting of characters partially playing themselves, Altman wryly and improvisationally toys with the mythos of Hollywood as it intersects with the reality of Seventies Los Angeles. The film self-deprecatingly encapsulates the contradictions of the time by mixing the carefree and irreverent with uncomfortable confrontation and sudden violence. Sometimes off-frame or partly obstructed, the camera wanders as ambivalently as Marlowe does around a comic parade of deceptive characters and the elusive truth. The detective’s unpredictable path may encounter all of the essential elements of a classic noir; yet Altman’s translucent lens translates these into the disarming, detailed grain of a faded naturalism underscored by Marlowe’s irresolute refrain, "It’s okay with me."" – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our Robert Altman season