Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler vs. Altman

Date: 12 Nov 2007

You're certainly not alone Chan. I enjoyed the film but was annoyed by the ending (and the fecking harmonica - why not a banjo, double bass or piano accordian, sheesh!) and I guess 'auteur theory' must apply - it's Altman's The Long Goodbye, not Chandler's.
  They may not be the greatest critical authorities there are, okay they are not, but my Virgin Film Guide says: "Altman offended fans of RC's Philip Marlowe by completely subverting the role here"... "Gould shatters the Marlowe mold in this film, playing the detective as a disheveled eccentric, much the same
 character he portrayed in other Altman films M*A*S*H and California Split. From that viewpoint Chandler's fans had reason to be upset, but Altman's approach to the film noir crime drama is not without its good points."
  My Time Out Film Guide notes the howls of outrage from Chandler fans but then goes on to call the film one of the best of the 70s.
  And this from Wikipedia: Initial reviews for the film were mixed and the box-office returns were poor, on account of the unconventional changes from the novel. Sight and Sound and The Film Quarterly attacked the depiction of Marlowe stating that "one can not satirize or destroy a hero image until one defines it" (Gerald Plecki, "Robert Altman"). Some critics objected to a 1970's Marlowe characterized differently by an ending changed from the book. Altman liked the new ending so much that he insisted on a clause in his contract that guaranteed the ending wouldn't be changed during production or editing.
  What do critics know anyhow?
  I guess any 'period drama' updated has to make pretty major changes to the whole shebang - although as someone earlier noted he/Brackett aren't too unfaithful to much of the plot.
  I've really enjoyed the discussion of TLG which I've found very illuminating, thank you, I shall watch it again this week and re-read the novel, again. Now, we can all wait and see what Frank Miller does with Trouble is My Business (which I've seen with a 2009, or even 2010! release date attached to it) - many novels are, I believe, simply too complex to fit into a feature film, so perhaps a short story/novella is the ideal form from which to adapt? - and argue over whether Clive Owen is fit to fill the shoes that walk down those mean streets.
  Cheers all,
  Join my Church:


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