Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Long Goodbye

An Altman Peak

(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Kino Blu-ray.)


With 1973's The Long Goodbye Robert Altman obviously achieves perfection. It's as accidental and as circumstantial as the successful ignition of a match off any available surface.

The film consists of a series of short films, one-act plays, all sharing some throughline about one Terry Lennox's suspected murder; and then there's an ending that exudes a purest Cannon Films scene avant la lettre.

The Long Goodbye contains two of Altman's wildest, most brilliant sequences:

(1) Sterling Hayden as Sterling Hayden, in his golden period where he'd had enough of everything, right on the heels of The Godfather and ten years before the release of Wolf-Eckart Bühler and Manfred Blank's documentary Hayden portrait Pharos of Chaos. The most insipid, Hayden-indulgent grandstand captured on film à la Maidstone, and every second is marvelous. Altman lets it keep going, keep going... I thank him for this. Less is not always more, because most of the time more is. (,morons.)

(2) The Doberman biting, yipping, running growling confused at the beachfront as Marlowe pulls Mrs. Wade reluctantly to shore. An abstraction, like justice, that can not be reasonably codified nor critically decoded.


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