Re: RARA-AVIS: More Heresy

From: Patrick King (
Date: 03 Nov 2010

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    I recently re-read "The Long Goodbye."

    When I finished reading it, I managed to find the movie on-line.

    My heresy?

    The movie makes more sense than the book.


    Just in conversation, as I also re-read THE LONG GOODBYE recently, actually purchased the movie on iTunes so I could watch it after finishing the book, and came to the exact opposite conclusion from yours.

    In what way do you find the movie more sensible than the book?

    Granted, THE LONG GOODBYE is not really a plot driven mystery. It's a character driven story. We keep reading because the characters are intriguing and troublesome, but it's unlikely that Chandler was working from any kind of outline. You have his usual theme of the two women/sisters living apparently diametrically different lives which converge at the perverse. Roger Wade is a strongly autobiographical character, and I was very aware of this as reading the book was inspired by first reading Freeman's THE LONG EMBRACE. I found Chandler's book thoroughly entertaining but no more logical than the way things happen in real life. I thought the ending was unlikely.

    So, I watched the movie.

    It's easy to admire Marlowe in the book. Chandler's character makes decisions based on the greater good. When he errs, he errs on the side of compassion. Although his insight gives him knowledge of other characters' faults, he assesses them rather than judge them and declines to be their executioner. The character in the movie played by Elliot Gould seems to lack this insight. His compassion is based on some kind of knee-jerk reaction rather than the wisdom of his literary counterpart. Where Marlowe of the novel seems to move through the story with a clear understanding, sometimes an expectation, of what others are likely to do, Marlowe of the movie seems to be a leaf in the wind, inept at what he's trying to do, and usually reliant on the behavior of others. Neither the book nor the movie ends satisfactorily, but the movie ending is literally crazy.

    What did you see that I'm missing?

    Patrick King


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