Re: RARA-AVIS: A Whiff of Sulphur -- Eureka!

From: William Ahearn (
Date: 06 Dec 2007

--- Jack Bludis <> wrote:

> Yep, it was pretty bad.
Well, that's what makes horse racing. Whether or not you're a purist who can't see an idol in a different way or not, the fact remains that The Long Goodbye is good cinema. And Altman is not one of my favorite directors. How well it did at the box office is a bogus argument about value as numerous classics have bombed when they were released. As someone who tends to be irritated by filmmakers who gut novels
(Hitchcock being a major offender), I didn't expect to like The Long Goodbye. As far as I'm concerned, Murder, My Sweet is closer to a parody of Chandler than The Long Goodbye and The Lady In The Lake is one long bad joke wrapped up in a truly bad film.

What I'm finding in this conversation (and very little of this is directed to Jack whose post I'm responding to) is a hint of reactionary fervor in defense of a genre. To Altman's (and Polanski's) credit, they didn't set out to capture elements of a long-gone sensibility in The Long Goodbye and Chinatown. They took stories and told them in a style that broke with the fashion of fedora and guns and hard-boiled detectives. As films, they have legitimate lives of their own. The same is true of Kiss Me, Deadly where Spillane's central premise was scrapped and the story retold as a nihilistic detective story. That's what film should do and it's rare when it happens.

The Long Goodbye may not be a great film but it's in my top five PI films. Quibble with this, quibble with that yet it remains a fine piece of cinema.


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