Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Long Goodbye

Year 8, Day 27 - 1/27/16 - Movie #2,228

BEFORE: As promised, here's the other film made in the late 60's/early 70's featuring Raymond Chandler's detective, Philip Marlowe.  Elliott Gould carries over from "A Bridge Too Far" to play him tonight.  This one was directed by Robert Altman, with a screenplay by Leigh Brackett (who also wrote the screenplay for "The Empire Strikes Back" a few years later).  There were "Star Wars" connections I forgot to mention last night, like Garrick "Biggs" Hagon and John "Major Derlin" Ratzenberger making appearances in "A Bridge Too Far".

For a while, I had considered leading off the year with this film, because if this is my final year watching so many movies, then the whole year is sort of like "The Long Goodbye".  But that was before I had another film with Elliott Gould on the watchlist - it's a neat little trick that I can start the year with a film that only links to one other film, but then I added "A Bridge Too Far", so doing that was no longer necessary. 

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Marlowe" (Movie #2,222)

THE PLOT:  Detective Philip Marlowe tries to help a friend who is accused of murdering his wife.

AFTER: When a friend asks you to drive him to Mexico in the middle of the night, and he's got a suitcase that he won't let you touch, or even touch, I'm sure there's a very reasonable, rational explanation.  Who wouldn't give him a lift, without asking if he's in some kind of trouble - what the hell are friends for, anyway?  When the cops bring Marlowe in for questioning and tell him his friend's wife is dead, he starts to put things together.

But still, he's convinced that his friend is not a murderer - but then the cops get some more information that effectively closes the case, only Marlowe's still not convinced.  His investigatin' leads him to a drunk writer (aren't they all?) and his long-suffering wife (aren't they all?) and a shady rehab clinic doctor (ditto?) and then to a gangster looking for the money that Marlowe's friend may have left town with.

You can tell this was made in, what, 1973?  Because the gangster who really wants his money, and if he doesn't find out who has it, he's got a knife and he's going to start cutting off Marlowe's parts, but hey, if everyone in the room just wants to get naked and see where things go, he's kind of cool with that, too.  I'll say it again, that was a weird decade. 

You can also see it in Marlowe's neighbors, who aren't hippies exactly, they're just 5 or 6 women in a crash pad who like to get high and do topless yoga.  Marlowe's apartment may not be spectacular, but it's got a hell of a view.  Marlowe's nice to them, buying them brownie mix to make what I'm sure are completely legal desserts.  

Marlowe also has a cat (but dogs seem to hate him), so this version of him is OK in my book.  He knows that his cat likes only one kind of cat food, so when he runs out and he can't find that brand in the store, he brings home another can, puts that food in the can of the "right" brand, and tries to fool the cat.  Uh uh, that trick never works. A true bit of trivia - this film inspired the 9-Lives cat food commercials with Morris, the "finicky" cat - that's the first Morris, seen in this film.

Again, there's something of a weird tone to the film - it's not serious enough to play as an effective crime drama, and it's not funny enough to be considered a spoof.  So it's hard to say which direction they were trying to go in.  There are some funny bits, and there are some serious bits, but overall it seems rather inconsistent.  But hey, it's listed in the book of "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", so watching it gets me one step closer.  (My current total: 381 out of the 1,001)

NITPICK POINT: I'm not sure why the song "Hooray for Hollywood" plays over the closing credits, perhaps it's meant to be ironic, but since the song is about how great it is to be in show business, and there's no connection between the events in the film and the making of movies, I can't really see the reason for using that song. 

Also starring Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden (last seen in "Nine to Five"), Mark Rydell (last seen in "Hollywood Ending"), Henry Gibson (last seen in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch"), David Arkin, Jim Bouton, with cameos from Jack Riley (last seen in "Frances"), David Carradine (last seen in "Bird on a Wire"), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (last seen in "The Expendables 2") in an uncredited role, but that's him in the gangster's office, taking off his shirt. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 broken liquor bottles

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