Day 9 – The Long Goodbye (1973)

Yet again, I picked a movie I own on DVD but haven’t watched. Dave really likes this movie and has been asking me to watch it for some time. I think we have this DVD because I got it for him as a gift some time ago. I was actually going to watch it yesterday, but got about 30 seconds in and decided I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. Well, I finally watched it today.

The Long Goodbye is a Neo-noir directed by Robert Altman and starring many great actors, including Elliott Gould, Sterling Hayden (who played General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove from my post 2 days ago), Henry Gibson, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger in his 2nd film appearance as a buff henchman who never speaks. Elliott Gould plays a private investigator in Hollywood who, after his friend is accused of murdering his wife and then commits “suicide,” is on the search for the truth. He comes into contact with some shady people along the way, creating more questions than answers. In true noir fashion, we have a femme fatale, some people looking for money, and the big reveal of betrayal at the end.

I have to admit, I have never really been a fan of film noir, probably because it’s just a whole genre for DUDES who idolize “bad guys” and like to see the women in the story serving as much of a purpose as a lifeless prop. Of course, The Long Goodbye is updated for the 70s, but the male gaze from the early noir films persists. Phil Marlowe (Elliott Gould) lives next to a group of women who practice yoga on their balcony in the nude, but they are merely part of the set. They are there only to establish what decade we’re in and to distract the men throughout the story. The only other female characters are helpless victims or naughty vixens. And this is exactly why I could never get into the genre to begin with.

One thing I really enjoyed was Elliott Gould’s performance as the main character, Phil. He turned what is usually a stuffy, clinical character into an almost goofy one at times, making him more likeable. This is established in the very first 10 minutes of the movie when he buys an off-brand cat food, stuffs it into an old name-brand can, and tries to convince his cat it’s the real deal. Elliott Gould did not take the gumeshoe role as seriously, and that’s a good thing.

I don’t want to give the impression that I completely disliked this movie, because I didn’t. It’s a fun, suspenseful ride with a satisfying ending, but this sort of thing just isn’t my cup of tea.

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