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The Long Goodbye ****
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

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THE LONG GOODBYE

Feature Presentation: Robert Altman’s loose, labyrinthine take on the Raymond Chandler classic is noir unburdened by a straight narrative – it’s a triumph of atmosphere and attitude, a swiftly unfolding whodunit punctuated by subversive absurdities and shattering acts of violence. Here, detective Philip Marlowe seems less hard-boiled than ever before; unlike Bogart in The Big Sleep, Elliott Gould is neither tough nor irresistible to the beautiful women around him, and he relies on his considerable smarts to weed out the truth while dodging the goons and loons lurking the L.A. streets. Altman toys with the pretensions of the genre while maintaining a tone that is at once playful and tense; Gould, who narrates his adventures like a man bemused by the narcissistic culture he inhabits, has never been more effective.

Bonus Materials: Most revealing is a making-of featurette in which Altman and Gould recall the differences between Leigh Brackett’s original screenplay and the late director’s final cut. While Brackett left many of Chandler’s characters untouched, Altman re-imagined Gould’s role as one he liked to call “Rip Van Marlowe” – a private eye from the ’50s transported into the ’70s with his sense of decency defiantly intact. Brackett is said to have been pleased with the changes, and who are we to disagree?

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