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The Long Goodbye

Where to Watch The Long Goodbye

R
1973

The Long Goodbye, directed by Robert Altman and released in 1973, has emerged as a cult classic that has earned admiration for its timeless depiction of sinuous mystery and noir world charm. Starring Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, and Sterling Hayden, this film is an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's book of the same name. With an imprinted 1970's feel, Altman's style plays well with the original material, lending a distinct tone and pacing to the film that sets it uniquely apart from other films in the crime drama genre.

Set in the glittery and grimy backdrop of Los Angeles, the lead character is hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe, played with a unique touch of laid-back charm by Elliott Gould. Gould's Marlowe is disheveled, chain-smoking, wisecracking, and unlike the typical tough guy image of the private detectives in the film noir tradition. It's his somewhat cynical, yet nonchalant demeanor that makes the character remarkable and riveting.

The plot of The Long Goodbye kicks into gear when Marlowe’s old friend Terry Lennox, played by Jim Bouton, unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep one night desperately in need of a favor: to be driven to Mexico without any questions asked. Marlowe agrees because he believes in the sanctity of friendship and loyalty. But soon after, he is interrogated by detectives on suspicion of abetting a murder that Lennox is suspected of committing, pushing Marlowe into a web of deception, crime, and regret.

Simultaneously, Marlowe is hired by a wealthy, beautiful, and mysterious woman named Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt). Eileen wants Marlowe to find her missing husband, Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden), an eccentric novelist struggling with alcoholism. As Marlowe delves deeper into each case, he finds himself caught up in an intricate puzzle of deception, betrayal, and danger.

Furthermore, the film gains an extra dimension with the inclusion of Sterling Hayden. Hayden delivers a performance as the tormented, hard-drinking writer Roger Wade, which becomes a riveting spectacle in its own right. His portrayal of a deeply flawed character, who is at once pitiable and despicable, adds a level of depth often rare in such films.

The Long Goodbye is also renowned for its technical brilliance. Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography is remarkable, and his ability to create a space that mirrors Marlowe's moral and existential crisis, uses both focus and framing to great effect. At the same time, the film features a quirky detail; a repeating version of the title song by John Williams and Johnny Mercer, played in various forms throughout, including as supermarket Muzak, hippie chants, and an acapella hum.

What marks this film as an emblem of the 70s New Wave is its insistence on deconstructing the private eye genre. Altman’s The Long Goodbye plays with the clichés of the genre, often subverting expectations and turning familiar archetype characters on their heads. This detective film does not provide easy answers or straightforward narrative paths. Instead, it is a tapestry of loose threads, where chance occurrences and random details have the same weightage as deliberate detective work.

Genuine to its genre's heart, The Long Goodbye is a film of spiraling intrigue where the real mystery goes beyond the surface narrative of who did what to whom. It is an exploration into the depths of friendship, trust, and duty in a world where the traditional concepts of good and bad are not always black and white. This quality makes The Long Goodbye not just a simple detective movie, but a complex character study of an era and its disillusioned inhabitants.

In the end, The Long Goodbye, with its nuanced storytelling and the strong central performance by Elliott Gould, stands as a profoundly influential creative work. It’s a film that certainly deserves the status of a cult classic, sparking conversations about its irreverent deconstruction of a genre and posing questions about morality, friendship, and the blurred lines between right and wrong, which continue to resonate with viewers even decades after its release.

The Long Goodbye is a Crime, Comedy, Mystery, Thriller movie released in 1973. It has a runtime of 112 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.5. It also holds a MetaScore of 87.

How to Watch The Long Goodbye

Where can I stream The Long Goodbye movie online? The Long Goodbye is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, MGM+, FuboTV, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, The Roku Channel, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, EPIX NOW. Some platforms allow you to rent The Long Goodbye for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.5/10
87/100
Director
Robert Altman
Stars
Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden
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