RARA-AVIS: Re:The Long Goodbye

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 08 Feb 2007

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Patrick King <abrasax93@...> wrote:
> 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!
> Patrick

I have to ask: are you serious or is this a send-up?

Do you think the opinion of Chandler fans in 1973 moved the box office at all? Of course not. So why should the producers care? The going against the Chandler grain would have helped the buzz-- given the reviewers something to write and been a net positive. AChandler fan, I saw the movie when it was released and quickly realized I was in for a far-flung trip. I was not a fan of Elliot Gould (who, along with most movie-goers in 1973, I considered a 'leading man' not a character actor) but after a bit of adjustment, I enjoyed the movie. It helped that I was a Leigh Brackett and Sterling Hayden fan and was curious about the performance of Jim Bouton. I bought the DVD over the holidays and hope to view it again soon and form a current opinion.

Does the existence of "Satan Met a Lady", the 1936 film, detract from my opinion of the Dashiell Hammett novel THE MALTESE FALCON or the John Houston film adaptation of 1941? Of course not. So let us celebrate or criticize the Altman film without getting too hysterical about it.

Richard Moore

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