From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 21 Aug 2003

Jim D wrote:

"I said adaptation, by definition, constrains the artist to produce something that is faithful to the source material, and since TLG was the original object of discussion, and since Mark explicitly said (and Chris by inference agreed) that TLG was NOT faithful, I went on to say that Altman, by failing to meet the minimal obligation of being faithful to the source material, was violating that (to me) quite obvious ethical standard. If I was forceful, it was because neither Chris nor Mark seemed to think there was anything wrong with being unfaithful to the source material."

Define faithful. Is it an aspect of plot? If so, Long Goodbye is pretty faithful, except for the final scene. Is it an aspect of character? If so, Long Goodbye is not at all faithful. The latter is how I was using the term. And that was why I was so offended by the movie when I first saw it.

However, even you used the term "deconstruct," which is most certainly what Brackett and Altman were doing. They were examining how the old ways fit into the new times. And frankly, I think it works a lot better than the ridiculous Mitchum Big Sleep set in swinging London.

Would you feel the same way about this movie if it had a different title and Marlowe had a different name? Is your objection to the movie as Chandler adatation or to the movie per se? How do you feel about other deconstructions, like Chinatown, for instance? And what about parodies?

What do you think of McCabe and Mrs. Miller? Never having read the novel, I can't say whether or not it is "faithful," but it certainly deconstructs the genre. But is it contemptuous of the western? Not Altman, but is Cat Ballou? The Lee Marvin character certainly makes the gunfighter figure look ridiculous, more ridiculous than Gould renders a PI.


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