Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:The Long Goodbye

From: Patrick King (
Date: 08 Feb 2007

I get your points, Steve, but this is exactly the essense of the problem. Why does Altman or any film maker make a derivative film and then choose to depart entirely from the original idea? Why not take the idea that was inspired by the original work, call the new detective Milton Pharlow or something and move forward with an original story? The answer is, the producer and/or the director want to glam on to the success of the popular book. So I come to this film having read the book at least four or five times, and I'm not treated to a visual rendition of this story I enjoyed, but to some different story set in a different time frame, with characters I can't even recognize. And I'm expected to be philosophical about this and "enjoy" the film as pure cinema and because Robert Altman directed it. Personally, I think that's rediculous. Hollywood can be as creative as it wants with original screenplays. I wish they'd make a lot more of them. But if they want to leach off the hard work of a writer who's created a huge readership through trial and error, the least that readership can demand is a faithful rendition. Altman's Long Goodbye is tantamount to taking a Harry Potter novel, making Harry 30-years-old, setting the story in modern Texas, and changing Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, into a Piggly-Wiggly cashregister training school. Rowling fans would not put up with this and neither should we Chandler fans!

--- Steve Novak <> wrote:

> Dear Patrick,
> I think you take my comment much too seriously and I
> thought that my
> Œscotch¹ asides were jazzing up the atmosphere...but
> your e-mail follows two
> or three others along the same avenues...
> Fundamentally any adaptation of any book into film
> has to be looked at as a
> film and not against some kind of meter on how much
> it is ³faithfull to the
> the the the
> genre...whatever...²...Does
> it work as a film is the fundamental question and in
> the case of The Long
> Goodbye, as a film, and also as a Bob Altman film
> (sub category here), it
> works very well for some myself or
> Etienne B. as he just
> mentioned in a recent e-mail to us all.
> I of course concede that it may not ³really captures
> the essense of
> Chandler's LA² but is that the question?...and who
> owns finally ³the essence
> of Chandler¹s LA²....who owns the SF of
> my book the ŒHammett¹
> of Wim Wenders...who owns the Œessence of London²:
> the wrestling gym of
> Night and the City or the West India docks of The
> Long Good Friday of John
> McKenzie...???...
> In the same vein, is Bogart more ŒHammettian¹ than
> Frederic
> vote goes for Forrest...and that¹s purely because he
> sticks closer in my
> mind to the image I have of the writer of Red
> Harvest, since that novel is
> my benchmark on the character...and the writer...
> Gould is very much Œaway¹ from the accepted
> perception, granted...but it
> captivates you and you want to see it several times
> to get more every
> time...
> least I do...
> ...sorry I don¹t do popcorn...just single malt...or
> Cahors, Madiran or
> Iroul駵y...or the occasional gimlet...
> Sylvestre (Steve) Novak
> On 1/26/07 4:50 PM, "Patrick King"
> <> wrote:
> Stve 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!"
> >
> > Frankly, Steve, if one has to watch it over and
> over
> > and alter one's consciousness too, in order to
> > appreciate it, how good can it be? I find Altman's
> The
> > Long Goodbye a dull, half hearted attempt made
> > primarily to help Elliott Gould change his image.
> Even
> > in this, the film is a failure. The only film that
> > really captures the essense of Chandler's LA is
> > Bogart's The Big Sleep, and even this was ruined
> by
> > the Hayze Office and their censorship policies.
> These
> > stories can all be remade with fidelity to the
> plot
> > and the era to great advantage. Anything less will
> be
> > the usual Hollywood 'rush with the flush,' and
> others
> > will be having this same discussion 20 years from
> now
> > about how good the originals are and how stupid
> > producers are to screw with their basic elements.
> >
> > Patrick King
> >
> [Non-text portions of this message have been
> removed]

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