From: Terrill Lankford (
Date: 21 Aug 2003

-------Original Message------- From: JIM DOHERTY <>
" Depends on what they're purporting to be doing. If THE LONG GOODBYE puported to be a film adaptation of Chandler's novel. What it was in actuality was Altman's canvas through which he could display his sneering, oh-so-superior contempt for Chandler's work specifically, for the character of Marlowe in particular, and for the hard-boiled genre and ethos in general. If he wanted to do that, he should have commissioned an original screenplay instead of pretending that he was doing a faithful adaptation of Chandler's novel."

I don't think Altman has ever made such a statement about THE LONG GOODBYE. I believe the mandate he was given by the studio and the producers was that he make "A Robert Altman FILM", which he did.

"So no he WASN'T free to adapt (and before somebody points out that the film rights had been bought and paid for, I'm talking ethics here, not legality) as you use the term. He was obligated to be faithful, within the limits of his talent and the medium in which he was working, to the work he was adapting."

I'm not sure how Altman got around this supposed "obligation" and slipped past the "ethics" police to use his own creativity on this project and bring us one of the most original and interesting films of its era (and a fantastic time capsule to boot), but I'm sure glad he did. It's certainly not a rare event when filmmakers don't "shoot the booK" (it's more often the case than not), but rarely does someone reinvent a work so entertainingly that it becomes a classic in its own right. Altman doesn't play by ANYONE'S rules. Thank god there's at least one like him out there.

And if you don't like his movie, you don't have to watch it. It shouldn't be an insult that it exists. As the pros always say, "He didn't ruin the book. It's still fine right there on the shelf." Maybe one day someone will shoot a "faithful" adaption of Chandler's book. If it's half as good as Altman's film it will be better than most of the stuff crowding the theatres nowadays.


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