Thursday, July 9, 2015

Philip Marlowe Movie Week: The Long Goodbye

Welcome back sleuth spotters for Day 3 of Philip Marlowe Week. A slight break yesterday as my co-host and I were working on Rotten Ramblin' On's sixth podcast. So while we did battle with a barrage of B-Movies, the film of the day got skipped. You have my apologies, gentle readers. With that in mind let's get back to the gumshoe known as Marlowe. This time around of all people Eliott Gould steps in the shamus' shoes and it might be a tight fit. Based on the 1953 novel The Long Goodbye, Philip helps a buddy of his across the border to Mexico only to get pinched by the cops the moment he walks in the door back home. Accusations of murder, conspiracy and aiding and abetting. This is The Long Goodbye.

Bloody finicky cat!

Our neo-noir (a more current film using elements of film noir such as style, theme, content and even media that has not been in use since the 1940s and 1950s) opens with Marlowe (Eliott Gould of M.A.S.H., Harry and Walter Go to New York, A Bridge Too Far, The Muppet Movie, The Devil and Max Devlin, E/R, Bugsy and Ocean's Eleven) having to feed his very finicky cat (Morris the Cat) when his best friend Terry Lennox (MLB All-Star Jim Bouton) asks Marlowe for a lift from L.A. To Tijuana. Hope he is getting some gas money out the deal. No sooner does Marlowe return home he is met by two detectives accusing Lennox of murdering his wife Sylvia. The two jog his memory but Marlowe refuses any cooperation thinking it is a bum rap so they toss him in the jug for three days for obstruction.

That's not Gene Wilder!!

The cops tell him that Lennox killed himself as a guilty conscience so they spring him. Marlowe calls it bull but what can you do? After a quick drink at the bar, Marlowe checks in with Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt of American Gigolo, Cutter's Way, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Time Out and Tales of the Unexpected) on a missing person's case. Her husband has up and left and the police really don't seem to have any interest in this, given the copious amounts of runaways, homicides and car thefts so they have a lot on their plate as it is. This blonde bombshell claims her husband Roger (Sterling Hayden of The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and The Godfather) while a brilliant novelist tends to go on drunken tears and be missing for days on end but this time he has been gone for too long. Eileen needs Marlowe to suss him out, hose him down and get him home. Sounds like a cake walk, right? Interestingly enough, the late Lennoxes also used to reside on the same neighborhood right up the beach. Coincidence?

Roger's behavior is erratic hiding over in a mental facility and the doctor seems to be holding him there against his will. Wade blurts out to Marlowe that he knew the Lennoxes socially to a level that gets Marlowe thinking there is a lot more to Terry's suicide and Sylvia's murder. Should Marlowe keep stepping on toes and peeping through windows for the truth? Does he let his friend's death go overlooked?

A few points of interest in the film. As this is a Roger Altman movie, the camera is always in motion. The man never believed in static shots (a shot on an person, place or thing that has no action and is held still, later inserted from editing) Gould completely improvised the police custody scene when he smears fingerprint ink all over his face and dialogue surrounding most of it.

Both David Carradine and Arnold Schwarzenegger are uncredited in the film as David is Dave a.k.a. Socrates, a guy being held for smoking some doobage and Arnold is a strong arm and at 6'3" that could make about anyone cringe. Sterling Hayden wrote his own scenes and his character's home was actually Altman's house. The gorgeous car Gould is driving around is a 1948 Cabriolet Lincoln Continental Convertible that was actually his car.

This film is one of five Gould made with Altman including: MASH, The Long Goodbye, California Split, Nashville and The Player. Not too shabby, huh?
Giving the copious amounts of nudity in the film I would skip letting the kids watch it.

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