Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:The Long Goodbye

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 27 Jan 2007

You guys *would* get into a discussion of something Chandlerian just when I was getting busy at work and trying to hit a deadline. Anyway, let the cuttin' begin-

Steve Novak wrote:

>I¹d be less gentle than Jim B...Jim D. you need to watch it, and watch it
>again, and again...and maybe in between repeated viewings you need some
>Glenfiddish or Lagavulin...or somethin¹...because the film is excellent!

What a *great* idea!! Why didn't I think of that when I was suffering through "Ishtar"!?! All you need to do in order to "get" the collective genius of Beatty and Hoffman in that movie is to be crocked all the way through it! Genius!

And why not take this idea out all the way to its logical conclusion? We don't actually need to look for *good* art/music/theatre/film/beauty. All we have to do is experience it drunk on really good booze, and hey! Voila! C'est magnifique! That new Justin Timberlake album is every bit as good as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" put together!

Ok, seriously, Altman took chances, and he's to be respected for that. There is risk associated with taking that sort of route (See "Welles, Orson"), acclaim to be garnered when you succeed, and a price to be paid when you fail. "The Long Goodbye" might have been a success at what Altman was attempting to do (kill the PI film), but by pretty much any other benchmark, it's a failure.

Why would he make a movie that made it pretty obvious that he disliked the original work on which it was based? Only Altman's shade and the shade of his corresponding ego know for sure.

> Moreover theres¹ Jim Bouton in it, the pride of Newark (and Yankees) as Terry Lennox...and for this Frenchman this is invaluable!

If anything, he's the "pride" of the Seattle Pilots, since they're gone forever, and "Ball Four" is pretty much all that's left to remember them by. (Said the guy from Seattle)

But wait, there's more! See below!

Steve Novak

Heres¹ a readin¹ for you:
( The Long Goodbye (1973) Reviewed by Michael Thomson Updated 8 January 2001

That's riiiiiiight trot out the critics when all else fails. You know, I recently watched both "The Prestige" and "The Illusionist." The critics I read panned "The Illusionist" (too slow, they said) and lauded "The Prestige" ("what an ending!!!" and stuff like that). Now, I watched both films before I read a review of either of them, and I had the reverse reaction. One of the friends with whom I went to see "The Prestige" actually liked it. The rest of the group thought it was slow-going, predictable, and the ending was telegraphed. I thought it was dreck, and was disappointed that great actors like Michael Caine, Scarlett Johannsen (who was mis-cast and wasted) and Christian Bale and a good actor like Hugh Jackman were associated with it. With "The Illusionist," the scenes between Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti were particularly interesting.

Then again, as I hit my 40s, I've begun to appreciate deftness and subtlety more and more, when it comes to cinema.

Your mileage may vary, and you'll be right for yourself, but for me? Don't try to tell me that *I* don't get it and that I have an obligation to *try* see the Emperor's Thirty-Year-Old Clothes, because you've got the responsibility backwards. Artists have a far greater obligation to their audience (and far more invested in their end of the relationship) than the audience has to the author.

Which explains why those of us who write willingly (or unwillingly) submit to first readers, re-writes, copy-edits, back-of-book-blurbs, etc., like we do.

So, in conclusion, Altman's "The Long Goodbye" struck me like a lead weight and never lightened up.

All the Best-


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