RARA-AVIS: Re: The Chandler followers and...

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@gmail.com)
Date: 08 Dec 2007

This really much too Long Goodbye has moved me to dig out the cassettes resulting from a sit-down with Altman back when the film had just been released in Los Angeles to less than kind reviews. His replies to two of my questions may be of some interest. At what stage did he get involved in the project? Altman: It was set up for Peter Bogdanovich to direct. He wanted Bob Mitchum or Lee Marvin, somebody like that. But the producer wanted Elliot. So Bogdonavich walked and they came to me, probably because of Elliot's involvement. I had no interest in doing it. No interest in directing a thriller. I don't care whodoneit. So I started to explain why I wouldn't direct the film, and the discussion went on for hours. And while that was going on, I realized how I could do it without it being just another thriller.

Do you feel the film demeans Chandler? God, I hope not. That was not my intent at all. On the set our bible was 'Raymond Chandler Speaking.' Not
'The Long Goodbye.' That was just the story. Leigh gave me exactly what I asked for: an outline that would take us from scene to scene, so we'd know the bases were all covered regarding story and budget and who would be where. But I don't think there's one line of Leigh's dialogue in the film. The actors and I roughed that out as we went along. We were all reading
'Raymond Chandler Speaking.' The letters. Getting the feel of the man's words. His attitude. What I actually was trying to do was to speak for Chandler, not demean him. I'd be proud to show the film to Chandler.

I asked him specifically about the ending, if he thought Chandler would approve of that. He shrugged and said it was the only way he felt it could end in the Seventies. In discussing Brewster McCloud, he pointed out that nearly all of his films were about loner eccentrics who are considered insane by a social order of people who behave with real insanity and that nearly all of the films end with death. That may explain Gould's interpretation of Marlowe as well as the ending.

I personally would have liked to have seen the Bogdanovich version. I don't feel that Altman's has much to do with either Chandler or Marlowe, but I like it. I'm just tired of it being beaten to death by by three or four people who apparently would be happy to argue its worth until this list drifts off into the DorothyL zone.

Dick Lochte

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