Friday, July 27, 2007

The Long Goodbye

Elliott Gould plays a chain-smoking Philip Marlowe living in an L.A. penthouse apartment with his demanding ginger cat and next door to four girls who are topless 24/7 in this 1973 private eye film. The film starts with Marlowe being woken by his cat at 3am wanting to be fed. Marlowe discovers he has no cat food, an improvisation of margarine and egg doesn't work and he sets off to the local 24 hour store (getting an order for 2 boxes of brownie mix from his topless partying neighbours). The store is out of the necessary brand, confronting a store worker he is told that all cat food is the same. Marlow responds asking if the worker has a cat; "No, I've got a girl" is the reply. Back home Marlow, locks the cat out of the kitchen while he transfers the food to an old can. Lets the cat in and makes a show of opening the can, but of course the cat is not fooled and disappears. This scene is just a prelude to the action (and sets up a number of cat jokes later on).

The plot itself starts with an old friend, with a history of gambling and wife beating, shows up at Marlow's place sporting a big bruise on his face and an urgent desire for Marlow to drive him to the Mexican border, because his wife is dead and the police will think he did it. Unable to find Marlow's friend the police and later the extremely vicious hoods he owes money to turn their attention to Marlow; and it is clear that private detectives occupy a very low niche in 1970s society. Between rough ups, Marlow investigates a new case of a missing husband for a woman who's dog also takes a dislike to the private eye. The husband is easily found in the clutches of a strange little doctor. But unsurprisingly the case leads back to his friend and dead wife. The final scene contains a noir twist as Marlow takes out his frustration at the way he is used and treated by everyone he meets.

Elliott Gould and looks disturbingly like Guy Secretan from Green Wing! One of the characters nicknames him Marlboro (he finds a new way to strike a match in every scene). If you are nostalgic for California in the 70s (the cars, the decor, the novelty of yoga and yogurt, the tennis frocks that are so short they make modern tennis outfits look like bridal dresses) and you like a film with humour, violence and plenty of plot twists then go to your video store and try and hunt down "The Long Goodbye".

Ian's rating: 4/5

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