Classic Film: The Long Goodbye (1973)
July 2, 2015
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You know, at this point I’ll watch anything that has Leigh Brackett’s name on it. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet. Although you better be careful with this one. Unlike, say, Hatari!, Rio Bravo, and The Big Sleep, you probably won’t be watching this one with your wife and kids. But for gritty hard-boiled suspense, this is about the best value you’re liable to get for your entertainment dollar.
Just on the basis of the number of “I can’t believe I’m watching this” type moments, this movie is the best thing ever. I mean for goodness sake, there’s a scene in it where a crime boss has himself and all his goons get naked so that they can all be truthful with each other. And one of those goons is a very young and very strapping Arnold Schwarzenegger!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too. There’s the goofy New Age women next door to Philip Marlowe that spend the bulk of the film topless. There’s the utterly useless cops that he insults and messes with at every opportunity. There’s the way the guy basically chain-smokes through the film. There’s the stuff that so marks this film as a product of its times that you can’t even discuss it for fear of offending someone. And I can’t get over it. Seriously, for a few bucks and an Amazon rental, you can get the most concentrated dose of vicarious free expression around. I can’t believe they got away with making this film!
My favorite thing about it is the fact that the tempo is nothing like what I expect from movies. It’s at the point now where you can practically set your watch by the plot points of the typical blockbuster movie. This one is nothing like that. It’s just this pulpy, frothy conglomerate of one weird scene after another, one astonishing character after another, one freaky revelation after another. I had no idea where it was going and repeatedly had to lift my jaw back into position. This movie doesn’t have a story arc. It has a roiling boil of awesome.
*** SPOILER WARNING ***
But that still leaves the question of how to end something like this. What kind of scene can possibly be used to put the final punctuation on something this insane? Well… if you are a regular follower of this blog, you already know the answer to that. And wow is it epic. This is how it’s done.
Highly recommended… to anyone that can handle it, anyway.