The Long Goodbye

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released from Arrow and the films on them.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: The Long Goodbye

#76 Post by EddieLarkin » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:33 pm


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Altair
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Re: The Long Goodbye

#77 Post by Altair » Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:25 am

The Long Goodbye (Altman/73)

"And I even lost my cat."

Robert Altman's deconstruction of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe by placing him in a strange, bizarre environment, LA of the seventies, is an excellent film, probably the best that I've seen from Altman. As an adaptation of the source novel, it of course fails, as it intends to, for as ever with this director, character takes precedence over plot. While on paper, apart from the updated setting, it might sound fairly faithful, the elimination of characters, the reducing in importance of others, and the final inversion of the novel's original climax serves to underline that the now much reduced, actually quite straightforward plotting is really only there so Altman can explore this man Marlowe. Aided by a superb Elliot Gould in his best performance, he gets under the skin of him, the mess of contradictions that define him and his resolute refusal to change with the times, leading him ultimately to failure (it's hard to see the finale as a triumph for him). His "other time" characterisation results him in being the only moral person in the film, Altman using Marlowe's utter disbelief at what the world has become to also transform into a critical commentary of America during this time period, a world populated by Terry Lennoxes and Marty Augustines (Mark Rydell whose shocking "That's someone I love. You, I don't even like." scene is the most powerful in the picture).

Vilmos Zsigmond's unique cinematographic appearance, all diffuse, soft lighting, that looks "blown out" is incredible and gives it a haze of the past, as if it were Marlowe's sleepy, laidback "It's okay with me" view of life that we're seeing. Yet it would be wrong to deny
that it's a perfect film; the friendship with Lennox that the film pivots is never established very convincingly. It's hard to see this Marlowe liking the sleazy Californian charm of Terry Lennox (Jim Boulton) here, and Nina Van Pallandt, while not as bad as I feared, doesn't stand up to roaring Sterling Hayden as the alcoholic writer Roger Wade or Gould himself. Still, these unbalances don't sabotage the film, and while I'm far from an Altman fan, this is certainly one of the essential American films from the seventies, in a decade full of them.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#78 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:52 am


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MichaelB
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Re: The Long Goodbye

#79 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:06 am

It's not online (unless you're a digital subscriber), so I can't link to it, but Kim Newman has written a marvellous four-page piece on the film in the current (February 14) Sight & Sound, setting Altman's film in a context that spans Raymond Chandler's novels to the BBC's Sherlock and challenging quite a few critical clichés along the way. Since I've been spending the past month reading many of those clichés being rehashed (while wondering if anyone has anything original to say about the film any more), it was particularly refreshing reading.

Amongst Newman's many observations is the fact that not only was Altman's film not the first Chandler adaptation with a contemporary setting, but just two of nearly 100 pre-1950s Sherlock Holmes adaptations were actually set in Victorian London - something that's easy to forget, since their present-day settings have now become "period" with the passage of time. And I also liked his comment that it's ironic that Altman's film features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jaws screenwriter Carl Gottlieb and a John Williams score, since these three would go on to play a major role in changing the shape of Hollywood and ensuring that films as wayward as The Long Goodbye would quickly become almost impossible to fund, at least by a major studio.

And I was very pleased to see that The Long Goodbye came in at no. 51 on DVD Beaver's DVDs and Blu-rays of the year list - no mean feat for a region-locked disc that only came out three weeks ago.

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Altair
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Re: The Long Goodbye

#80 Post by Altair » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:12 am

MichaelB wrote:Amongst Newman's many observations is the fact that not only was Altman's film not the first Chandler adaptation with a contemporary setting, but just two of nearly 100 pre-1950s Sherlock Holmes adaptations were actually set in Victorian London - something that's easy to forget, since their present-day settings have now become "period" with the passage of time.
It's an interesting and valuable point which is important for realising how Hollywood, even during its Golden Age, would sacrifice period setting, even when it was strongly identified with a character like Sherlock Holmes, for the sake of cost and their essential B-movie status (after the first two Rathbone-starring versions at Fox). More crucial, is that Paul Bogart's Marlowe (1969), an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, is updated to contemporary LA. And reading the reviews, it wasn't critically embraced, but neither was it entirely rejected, and if was, it wasn't due to its contemporising of Philip Marlowe's world. So when it comes to looking back at the response to Altman's The Long Goodbye, only four years later, it clearly can't just be the updating that triggered the broad panning. It wasn't the mere placing of Chandler's creation in the Los Angeles of the seventies, it was what Altman did with this change. He used it as critical commentary of both Marlowe and (then) contemporary America. Instead of approaching Chandler in an awe-struck manner, Altman almost deconstructs the character, the process of which reveals more about Marlowe than most "straight" playings of the part. In retrospect, this I think, is the most successful aspect of the film: the ideals of Marlowe are intrinsically timeless, and his enemies (civic corruption, personal corruption, etc., etc.) remain so too, Chandler's novels' criticism being still applicable to the present day, and so by extension does Altman's analysis of it.

What I'm not sure is completely successful is Altman's critical depiction of seventies California, as this is an era so divorced from our own time that making satirical stabs at groupies and their hash brownies dates the film as surely as the references in The Big Sleep (1946) to war rationing. Relevant as they were at the time, today its the universal applicableness of the Chandlerian part of the film that really works for me; the updating of period helps Altman to achieve this, but the "baggage" that accompanies this isn't necessarily perfect.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#81 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:45 am

I finally got my copy of this on Friday (after ordering it more than a month ago, oh well) and it was well worth the wait. The movie looks and sounds gorgeous- there's so much lovely grain in this thing that I had to remind myself not to let my eyes wander from what was happening to just notice technical improvements over the DVD- but I'm also really impressed by the supplements. Though the best stuff is kind of buried- from the menus, I almost skipped some of the interviews, because when Criterion buries them in a sub-menu like that it usually means archive stuff, often only vaguely on-topic and with not that insightful interviewers. Here, I think they're the real meat of the extras- the David Tompson and Maxim Jakubowski pieces in particular are really excellent. I was enjoying the lengthy Elliott Gould interview, too, though I couldn't get through it (it's 2:45am and I should probably sleep at some point)- if nothing else, I was alerted to the fact that he did audiobooks of Chandler's novels, which alone justifies working through all of the extras.

At any rate, this is a fantastic disc, and does justice to one of my favorite movies of all time.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#82 Post by MichaelB » Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:05 am

Thanks for that - I'm a big fan of getting genuine experts to contribute interviews like this, and I'll certainly be commissioning more in a similar vein.

We've done something similar with The Killers - in the unavoidable absence of Lee Marvin and Ronald Reagan themselves (and Reagan hated the film, so even if he'd lived to 103 and hadn't succumbed to Alzheimer's we wouldn't have got much out of him), we got their biographers Dwayne Epstein and Marc Eliot to talk about them, and both men really know their stuff. So much so that although the target length was something like 15 minutes apiece, we ended up going for 30 minutes (Epstein) and 20 minutes (Eliot) instead.

I know what you mean about archive stuff, though - it's a real challenge justifying its inclusion sometimes. In the early stages of planning this release, I had my heart set on a truly glorious Sterling Hayden interview from 1970, but (as the date itself reveals) it had nothing whatever to do with The Long Goodbye, and my budget allowed for either that or Giggle and Give In, which was obviously far meatier and more immediately relevant. Although if Arrow picks up another Sterling Hayden film, that interview will jump straight to the top of my wishlist.

(If you've seen the Hayden interview on Criterion's The Killing, it's like that, but even more off-the-wall because he's giving it while piloting his barge down the Seine stripped to the waist, and some of it's in pidgin French).

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#83 Post by manicsounds » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:30 am


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Re: The Long Goodbye

#84 Post by AidanKing » Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:09 pm

Jonathan Rosenbaum seems to like Arrow's extras on The Long Goodbye in his latest DVD column in Cinema Scope.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#85 Post by Ishmael » Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:24 pm

AidanKing wrote:Jonathan Rosenbaum seems to like Arrow's extras on The Long Goodbye in his latest DVD column in Cinema Scope.
Major spoiler for the film in there, btw.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#86 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:11 pm

I always thought it was common for the film's most ardent supporters to qualify their praise by criticizing the ending - David Thomson for one - so it certainly stands out that Rosenbaum has somewhat come around to it.

I used to feel the same way, but when Altman explained his reasons for transplanting to the novel to contemporaneous L.A., and talked about the idea of a city (or perhaps a culture) corrupting someone, the ending seemed pretty satisfying the next time I saw it. Cynical but, I'm sorry to say, honest. It's totally against the Marlowe envisioned by Chandler, but it does feel right with what the film is about.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#87 Post by feihong » Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:52 pm

I always liked the Altman ending. The ending in the novel vindicated Marlowe's chivalric rightness; it confirmed that his judgement of people and his choice of friends were both spot-on. The Altman ending suggests much less reliability behind Marlowe's judgement of people, and I think that with the loss of his superhuman detective's honor, Marlowe becomes more a part of the mass of people in the movie than he does in the novels. Altman is forever trying to make his characters part of a group, and I think he sees people as a mass or a conglomerate more than as strong individuals. So to me, Marlowe's action at the end of the film seemed to be his concession to the group and to the times. He's joining the mass, sharing in their disillusion, their petty crime, etc. It's cold, it's harsh, but it's also part of Altman's basic thesis that the individual gets pounded down into the system, one way or another. So the ending of The Long Goodbye movie seemed in keeping with Altman's general philosophy, even if it's not so much a part of Chandler's world view.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#88 Post by MichaelB » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:20 am

Just to give credit where it's due, it's actually "the Brackett ending". Leigh Brackett's script existed before Robert Altman came on board, but in the event he loved its ending so much that he had it written into his contract that it remain in the final film regardless of the reaction.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#89 Post by tojoed » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:36 pm

I've just gone through this whole package, and I'd like to say that it's the best presentation of a great film that I have. So congratulations to MichaelB and everyone else involved.
I think Jay Shaw's cover design is absolutely brilliant, and I was wondering if it's available to buy as a print.


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Re: The Long Goodbye

#91 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:16 am

Only if it comes with his neighbors!

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#92 Post by DeprongMori » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:05 pm

Has anyone else had any problems getting the Arrow version of The Long Goodbye to play on their region-free player?

Mine consistently comes up "This BD is designed for 'Region B' players only". I know I'm booted up in Region-B-mode as my BFI and MoC "Region B" Blu-Ray discs are loading with no problems. I've never had problems with any other Region B discs.

(FWIW: Mine's an LG BP620 from Bombay Electronics, which I've had no issues with. Waiting for a call-back, and trying to find out whether there might be something different about the disc itself.)

Thanks for any assistance.
Last edited by DeprongMori on Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#93 Post by David M. » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:07 pm

I hear this issue with region-modded LG players a lot. The problem is that you likely started the BD in Region A or C mode and the player's resuming to the last point in the disc where you left it (the region lock trap screen). Try a factory reset and/or unplugging the player and leaving it unplugged for 10 minutes or so before trying again.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#94 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:22 pm

Oh, even my Oppo does that. It took me a while to realise it. But yes, if you get the wrong region screen and then change it, but allow the disc to resume when you put it back in, it'll go straight back to the wrong region screen despite now being set to the correct region!

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#95 Post by DeprongMori » Fri Apr 10, 2015 4:27 pm

Thanks. That did the trick.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#96 Post by zedz » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:20 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:Oh, even my Oppo does that. It took me a while to realise it. But yes, if you get the wrong region screen and then change it, but allow the disc to resume when you put it back in, it'll go straight back to the wrong region screen despite now being set to the correct region!
If this happens, the simplest way to deal with it is just press 'stop' a couple of times before the disc loads after changing the region. Then press 'play' so it reloads from scratch without resuming where it left off.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#97 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:02 am

well, I got the same problems with a multiregion player and some blu-ray such as the Truffaut on Artificial Eye and other region B blu-ray which are stritcly region B locked (for instance the UK release of "Under The Skin")

I was surprised that even after having typed on my remote control the code to go back into region B, I still got the "region error" : "this blu-ray won't play on this player"...)
I was even more suprised to see when I insert some well-known region B locked such as the MoC releases which are famous for their customized "region error" we are sorry... to see that these MoC region B locked were loading whereas the Artificial Eye region B locked didn't load (region error)
It worked for instance when I was putting "Serpico" MoC or "Silent Running" MoC (which are region B locked).

well, rather than resetting my region player, or deleting/empty the storay (which I didn't like because I lost all my Criterion bookmarks-saved), I finally found what to do :

Insert a well-known region B locked MoC such as "Serpico" or "The Tarnished Angels"; if you see the menu is loaded. Launch the movie.
Fast forward until the movie really starts (after the logo), etc...
and that's it.
You can put after that Blu-Ray the "reluctant" region B locked Blu-Ray and it can be read now.
From what I understood, this will keep in the memory that the last disk played (that's the "resume"/playback function) was a region B disk; thus the other Blu-Ray can be read after that and you don't need to empty the memory of your Blu-Ray multiregion player.
To some extend, you can even play first a Blu-Ray region A-B-C for instance, but do not just load the menu of the disk, launch the movie, so it can keep in memory that the last disk played was not strictly a region A disk (like a Criterion).
Then you can put the Blu-Ray disk region B which didn't load so far...

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The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

#98 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:20 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, September 4th

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.

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Re: The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

#99 Post by Drucker » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:05 am

This was the second Altman film I saw, but now that I've seen about six or seven, it still stands out to me how unique this film is for him. It has the hazy, loose feel of many of his other films. But what's unique about is the really active participation the viewer has in the film. Whether McCabe, Secret Honor, or Nashville...those all feel like films where the viewer is sort of eavesdropping on the events in the film. Maybe this is because we are much more focused on one person rather than a community of people? Here, I feel the viewer is more actively involved in the events Marlowe goes through. Because of that, it's a slightly more intense film than I'm used to seeing with Altman, not least because of Gould's intense performance. While it may feel a little different than other Altmans, it's every bit as good, and certainly one of my favorite films of the era.

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Re: The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

#100 Post by Roscoe » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:27 am

Altman's loose-limbed riff on Chandler has some fine moments, no doubt. I'm always very taken with Sterling Hayden's performance, and the big night scene on the beach is really remarkable. Best taken as Altman's picture of 1970's California and Hollywood.

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