RARA-AVIS: RE: Altman's Long Goodbye

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 12 Jun 2000

Thompson's New York Times article on Robert Altman makes the film sound terrific, but it attributes its financial failure to a moviegoing nation's lingering devotion to the Bogart Marlowe. That surely had something to do with it. Just as a book-reading nation's devotion to Chandler took its toll in critical disdain. The film's ending isn't just disrespectful of Chandler, it grinds its heel on the concept of the detective as white knight. The real reason the film was DOA at the box office, however, was because it was an art house movie that the studio mistakenly released as a general feature. It had none of the things a mystery movie-movie needs (except for the score which works both as satire and as acceptable movie music). No heroic presence. No witty dialogue. No romance. No real mystery. Not much of a plot ay all that anyone could follow.

As an art house movie, however, I've always liked it. I just wish Altman had used some other material as the springboard for his satire. Then maybe somebody else - I think Bognaovich was interested in the project at the time - might have used Brackett to turn out a more conventional film.


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