The Long Goodbye (1973)

R | 111-112 or 121 mins | Comedy-drama, Film noir | 7 March 1973

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HISTORY

The film opens with the character “Philip Marlowe” waking in the middle of the night to feed his pet cat, while at the same time, his friend “Terry Lennox” drives his convertible out of the Malibu Colony to escape a crime scene. The film closes with a title card reading: "With special remembrance for Dan Blocker." Blocker was to play "Roger Wade," but after his sudden death in May 1972, was replaced by Sterling Hayden. Blocker was best known for his role as cowboy "Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright” on the hit television show of the late 1950s—early 1970s, Bonanza.
       According to an 11 Oct 1965 DV article, producers Jerry Gershwin and Elliot Kastner bought the rights to Raymond Chandler’s novel, The Long Good-bye, for filming at Warner Bros. in the summer of 1966. On 9 Jun 1967, HR reported that Gabriel Katzka had purchased the screen rights to The Long Good-bye and planned to produce it in 1968. A 17 Jan 1968 DV article noted that Stirling Silliphant had committed to writing the screenplay for M-G-M. HR then reported on 31 May 1968 that producer Sidney Beckerman planned to produce the film with Katzka. The 15 Dec 1971 Var reported that Kastner and Jerry Bick had hired Elliott Gould, who had earlier teamed with director Robert Altman for the 1971 film M*A*S*H , to play Marlowe and Leigh Brackett to write the screenplay. Brackett had earlier co-written the screenplay for the 1946 Warner Bros. adaptation of Chandler’s The Big Sleep with William Faulkner and Jules Furthman (see entry). No further mention ... More Less

The film opens with the character “Philip Marlowe” waking in the middle of the night to feed his pet cat, while at the same time, his friend “Terry Lennox” drives his convertible out of the Malibu Colony to escape a crime scene. The film closes with a title card reading: "With special remembrance for Dan Blocker." Blocker was to play "Roger Wade," but after his sudden death in May 1972, was replaced by Sterling Hayden. Blocker was best known for his role as cowboy "Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright” on the hit television show of the late 1950s—early 1970s, Bonanza.
       According to an 11 Oct 1965 DV article, producers Jerry Gershwin and Elliot Kastner bought the rights to Raymond Chandler’s novel, The Long Good-bye, for filming at Warner Bros. in the summer of 1966. On 9 Jun 1967, HR reported that Gabriel Katzka had purchased the screen rights to The Long Good-bye and planned to produce it in 1968. A 17 Jan 1968 DV article noted that Stirling Silliphant had committed to writing the screenplay for M-G-M. HR then reported on 31 May 1968 that producer Sidney Beckerman planned to produce the film with Katzka. The 15 Dec 1971 Var reported that Kastner and Jerry Bick had hired Elliott Gould, who had earlier teamed with director Robert Altman for the 1971 film M*A*S*H , to play Marlowe and Leigh Brackett to write the screenplay. Brackett had earlier co-written the screenplay for the 1946 Warner Bros. adaptation of Chandler’s The Big Sleep with William Faulkner and Jules Furthman (see entry). No further mention of Gershwin, Katzka, Silliphant, or Beckerman has been found in subsequent news items or production notes on the film. Silliphant subsequently wrote the script for another Philip Marlowe film, Marlowe (1968, see entry), based on the novel The Little Sister.
       While Altman’s film follows the basic plot of Chandler’s 1953 classic noir mystery novel, his portrait of Marlowe as a slovenly 1970s bachelor was considered anti-establishment at the time of the film’s release. Altman directed Gould to create open-ended conversations and wisecracks that missed the mark, leaving characters baffled with the private investigator. Gould’s Marlowe was a vulnerable character compared with the tough and romantic leading man portrayed in five earlier portraits of Chandler’s private investigator: Dick Powell in the 1944 Murder, My Sweet ; Humphrey Bogart in the 1946 The Big Sleep (see entry); Robert Montgomery in the 1947 Lady in the Lake ; George Montgomery in 1947's The Brasher Doubloon ; and James Garner in 1968's Marlowe (see entries).
       As noted in the Box review, Altman hired many players who were not traditional actors, including baseball player Jim Bouton, director Mark Rydell and Laugh In television comedian Henry Gibson, while other actors, such as David Carradine, had brief cameo appearances. Many incidentals in the film, while not directly part of the plot, add to the nuance of the characters or scenes as in Marlowe’s obsession with finding his pet cat, sometimes at the expense of the investigation, and, during a street scene in Mexico, focusing on copulating stray dogs. According to the Box review, the filmmakers used a technique called "flashing" to mute the color in some of the Malibu, Los Angeles and Mexico scenes, to make the sequences have a bright haze, in contrast to the darker scenes traditional to “noir” films. One of the many running gags in the film is a Malibu Colony guard’s film star impersonations, including Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and Walter Brennan. In addition, Marlowe's neighbors, a group of young female hippies, are shown practicing yoga on their balcony in various stages of undress.
       Altman, known for layering sound to create authentic scenes, used recurrent versions of the Johnny Mercer--John Williams title song, including a piano rendition by actor Jack Riley, a jazz arrangement on the radio, easy listening background music for a grocery store, a funeral procession by The Tepoztlan Municipal Band, and for the first few notes of the “Wade” house doorbell. The last version concludes the film as “Eileen Wade” drives past Marlowe, who is walking down a Mexican road, having just killed her lover, Terry. The song is followed by a jubilant version of "Hooray for Hollywood," which also opened the film.
       The most famous location in The Long Goodbye was Marlowe's apartment building, known as The Hightower or High Tower Court, a landmark just off Highland Boulevard near the Hollywood Bowl, that has since been used for other movies, including the 1991 mystery Dead Again. Other locations include the Lincoln Heights jail, a San Fernando Valley piano bar, a Pasadena rest home, and the towns of Tepoztlan and Chiconcuac in Mexico.
       The Long Goodbye marked the film debut for Bouton and the American film debut for Danish folk singer and actress Nina van Pallandt, who appeared in several subsequent Altman films. The film was also the first Hollywood production for body builder, actor and future governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was billed as "Arnold Strong". His feature film debut was the 1970 film Hercules in New York (see entry). A modern source adds Ned Humphreys to the cast.
       Upon the film’s initial release in Los Angeles on 7 Mar 1973, the HR review stated that it had many "remarkable" performances by actors under Altman's direction, but failed to be cohesive. Furthermore, the 8 Mar 1973 LAT review criticized Altman for being morally ambiguous and the film for being merely an “exercise in style.” Soon after, United Artists pulled the picture from circulation, deciding that the commercial failure was in part due to the film’s advertisement campaign, which featured Gould and the lines “I have two friends in the world. One is a cat. The other is a murderer.” According to a 16 Dec 1973 LAT article, United Artists re-released the same version of the film on 28 Oct 1973 in New York and on 21 Dec 1973 in Los Angeles, with a new humorous advertisement campaign. This release was met with positive reviews and the film has since become a cult classic, garnering repeated praise from film historians and scholars.
       Chandler’s novel was first adapted for the screen in 1954 for an episode of the CBS television series Climax , starring Dick Powell as Marlowe and directed by William H. Brown, Jr. The Long Good-bye , which was Chandler’s last novel during his productive 1939-1954 period, won an Edgar Award in 1955. For more information on adaptations of Chandler’s novels, please see the entry for 1944 film Murder My Sweet. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Apr 1973
p. 4577.
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1965.
---
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1968.
---
Esquire
Jun 1973.
---
Films and Filming
Nov 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1967.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1972
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 1972
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1973
p. 3, 15.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
9 Mar 1973
Section B, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Mar 1973
View, p. 1, 15.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1973
Calendar, p. 42.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Mar 1973.
---
New York Times
5 Mar 1972.
---
New York Times
27 May 1973.
---
New York Times
28 Oct 1973
Section II, p. 1.
New York Times
29 Oct 1973
p. 42.
New York Times
18 Nov 1973
Section II, p. 1.
New York Times
6 Jan 1974
Section II, p. 1.
New York Times
7 Jan 1974
p. 38.
New York Times
13 Jan 1974
Section II, p. 13.
New Yorker
22 Oct 1973.
---
Newsweek
29 Oct 1973.
---
Rolling Stone
11 Oct 1973.
---
Time
9 Apr 1973.
---
Variety
15 Dec 1971.
---
Variety
6 Sep 1972.
---
Variety
7 Mar 1973
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Gaffer
Key grip
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd eng
Dubbing mixer
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod asst
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Long Good-bye by Raymond Chandler (Boston, 1953).
SONGS
"Hooray for Hollywood," music and lyrics by Richard Whiting and Johnny Mercer
"The Long Goodbye," music and lyrics by John Williams and Johnny Mercer, performed by The Dave Grusin Trio, Jack Sheldon, Clydie King, Jack Ripley, Morgan Ames' Aluminum Band and The Tepoztlan Municipal Band.
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 March 1973
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 March 1973
Production Date:
mid June--early September 1972 in Los Angeles and Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 February 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42701
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
camera and lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
111-112 or 121
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Private investigator Philip Marlow, an irreverent schlemiel, lives in a shabby Hollywood apartment with his constant companion, a cat, biding his time until the next case. Returning home late one night after shopping for Curry brand cat food, his cat’s favorite, the chain-smoking Marlowe is not surprised when arrogant playboy Terry Lennox arrives with a freshly scratched face. Terry admits he has had an argument with his wife Sylvia and asks Marlowe to drive him to Tijuana immediately. Trusting Terry, an old friend, Marlowe drops him off at the Mexican border without question. The next morning, when Marlowe is taken to the police station for questioning regarding Terry’s disappearance and Sylvia’s murder, the detective smears fingerprint ink on his face, sings show tunes and makes "wisecracks” throughout the interrogation. Despite evidence associating Terry with gangster Marty Augustine and photographs showing Sylvia’s badly beaten corpse, Marlowe is unable to believe Terry murdered Sylvia. Refusing to cooperate, Marlowe is jailed for three days, then released after Terry is reportedly found dead in a Mexico hotel. Reading the newspaper article about Terry’s apparent suicide and the murder confession he left behind, Marlowe learns that, with no remaining family to pay for expenses, Terry’s body will be left in Mexico for autopsy or burial. Another article, featuring Marlowe’s picture, attests that the private investigator was initially suspected as a possible accessory to the murder. After picking up phone messages at his favorite piano bar, Marlowe returns a call from Mrs. Eileen Wade, who wants him to find her alcoholic husband Roger, a frustrated writer who has been missing for a week. When Marlowe arrives at her house in the sumptuous Malibu Colony, a ... +


Private investigator Philip Marlow, an irreverent schlemiel, lives in a shabby Hollywood apartment with his constant companion, a cat, biding his time until the next case. Returning home late one night after shopping for Curry brand cat food, his cat’s favorite, the chain-smoking Marlowe is not surprised when arrogant playboy Terry Lennox arrives with a freshly scratched face. Terry admits he has had an argument with his wife Sylvia and asks Marlowe to drive him to Tijuana immediately. Trusting Terry, an old friend, Marlowe drops him off at the Mexican border without question. The next morning, when Marlowe is taken to the police station for questioning regarding Terry’s disappearance and Sylvia’s murder, the detective smears fingerprint ink on his face, sings show tunes and makes "wisecracks” throughout the interrogation. Despite evidence associating Terry with gangster Marty Augustine and photographs showing Sylvia’s badly beaten corpse, Marlowe is unable to believe Terry murdered Sylvia. Refusing to cooperate, Marlowe is jailed for three days, then released after Terry is reportedly found dead in a Mexico hotel. Reading the newspaper article about Terry’s apparent suicide and the murder confession he left behind, Marlowe learns that, with no remaining family to pay for expenses, Terry’s body will be left in Mexico for autopsy or burial. Another article, featuring Marlowe’s picture, attests that the private investigator was initially suspected as a possible accessory to the murder. After picking up phone messages at his favorite piano bar, Marlowe returns a call from Mrs. Eileen Wade, who wants him to find her alcoholic husband Roger, a frustrated writer who has been missing for a week. When Marlowe arrives at her house in the sumptuous Malibu Colony, a bruised Eileen tells him that Roger has checked into his usual sanitorium to dry out, but is refusing to let the facility inform her of his location. Marlowe is suspicious of Eileen, especially since Terry also lived in the Malibu Colony, but Eileen claims to have only known Terry peripherally. Marlowe takes the job for fifty dollars a day plus expenses and goes to the sanitorium to confront Dr. Verringer, Roger’s psychiatrist. Meeting with initial resistance from the nursing staff and the sinister Verringer, Marlowe finally sneaks onto the grounds and overhears the psychiatrist forcing Roger to sign a $4,000 check. When the writer raves that he wants to be released, Verringer threatens to tell Eileen his location, causing Roger to cower with fear. Marlowe then barges in and takes Roger home, where he collapses from the effects of Verringer’s drugs. Eileen confides that Roger is suicidal and entreats Marlowe to stay, but the detective, feeling his job is done, returns home. Soon after, Marty, accompanied by his hoods Pepe, Vince and Harry, corner Marlowe in his apartment and demand the $355,000 that Terry was to deliver to Marty. When Marlowe claims to know nothing of the money, Marty breaks a coke bottle on the face of his demure mistress, Jo Ann Eggenweiler, bragging that if he is willing to do that to someone he loves, imagine what he might do to Marlowe, whom he hates. Although Marty leaves dim-witted Harry to tail Marlowe, the detective easily escapes undetected and follows Marty to the Malibu Colony, where he watches as Marty talks heatedly with Eileen, then returns home and greets Harry, who was oblivious to his absence. The next morning, Marlowe gives Harry the Wades’ address, suggesting that he straighten his tie and follow at a polite distance if he wants to be a successful gangster. Marlowe goes to the Wades’, where he is asked to step outside as Eileen expertly manipulates Roger into drinking again, then condemns him for it, stating she will leave him if he continues. Driven mad by Eileen’s callous and manipulative treatment, Roger becomes increasingly belligerent, forcing Eileen to leave. When Marlowe then questions Roger about Marty, Terry and Eileen, the writer claims Marty owes him $50,000 and that Terry, who disliked Roger, was fond of Eileen. Later, Marlowe receives a letter of apology from Terry containing a “portrait of Madison,” a $5,000 bill. Determined to find out the truth, Marlowe takes a bus to Mexico and interviews the coroner and a policeman called Jefe. Showing Marlowe a list of Terry’s belongings, the officials claim Terry committed suicide using a gun registered in his own name. Returning to the United States, Marlowe attends a beach party at the Wades', where a drunken Roger insults Verringer when he shows up unexpectedly demanding a $4,000 check. Roger’s refusal prompts Verringer to slap him. Roger acquiesces and, after dispersing the guests angrily, collapses in a stupor. Eileen then tells Marlowe that her husband owed Marty money. As he is about to confront her with Roger’s version of the story, they both spot the writer walking into the dark ocean water and rush to save him; however, the waves quickly devour Roger. Hours later, as the coast guard searches for Roger’s body and police interview the neighbors who attended the Wade party, Eileen demurely agrees to Marlowe’s suggestion that Roger had an affair with Sylvia and killed her after Terry found out about the relationship. Marlowe gives the information to Detective Farmer, who informs him that, although Roger visited Sylvia on the night of her death, he checked into the sanitorium before the murder. After Marlowe states that he witnessed Verringer demanding payment for Roger’s alibi, Farmer dismisses him as an amateur. When Marlowe then goes directly to Marty’s luxurious apartment to ask the gangster for the truth, Marty demands the money Terry owed him. Bringing out bandaged-covered Jo Ann, the egomaniacal Marty recounts how he stripped naked in front of his lover to ask her apology, then orders everyone in the room, including his hoods, to do so as well. Finding the $5,000 in Marlowe’s shirt, Marty asks if Terry is still alive and threatens the detective with a knife. Marlowe’s perilous position is interrupted when a hood shows Marty a bag with the missing $350,000, which just arrived. Giving the $5,000 back to Marlowe for his honesty, Marty lets him go. As he leaves the building, Marlowe spots Eileen driving away in her convertible and is hit by a car while chasing her. Regaining consciousness in a hospital, Marlowe slips out and returns to the Wade house, where he finds real estate agents preparing to sell the house. When the agents refuse to tell him where Eileen is, Marlowe, suspecting that the answers are in Mexico, takes a bus to the village where Terry was last seen. After Marlowe offers the officials a “donation” of $5,000 for the truth, Jefe drives him to large house on the outskirts of town, where Marlowe finds Terry alive and well. Terry leisurely states that Sylvia, angered by his affair with Eileen, threatened to tell the police about Terry’s criminal activity with Marty. Terry claims he did not intend to kill Sylvia, but when she died from the beating her gave her, he was forced to give Marty’s money to Eileen and flee to Mexico. Marlowe reminds Terry that not only did he kill his wife but also that he flagrantly used Marlowe for his own gain. Terry merely shrugs and calls Marlowe a “born loser.” Fed up, the easy-going Marlowe announces that the deception has even cost him his cat and shoots Terry dead. Walking down the road back to town, Marlowe plays a happy tune on his harmonica, as Eileen passes him in a jeep, racing to her dead lover. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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