Wednesday, December 31, 2014

THE LONG GOODBYE (1973) - Robert Altman

Of all the Philip Marlowes, Elliot Gould as Robert Altman's shambolic, perpetually mumbling, bed-headed private dick is still my favorite. His attitude is laissez-faire ("It's OK by me") and his greatest concern, far outweighing the details of any case in progress, is securing his yellow tabby the right brand of cat food (Curry Brand, in case you're wondering). When the supermarket runs out, he will even involve himself in an elaborate charade (switching out cans, miming a can opener) for said cat to convince him he's getting the real thing. It's one of the best (and longest) opening sequences in a movie. Definitely the best one involving a house pet. It tells you everything you will need to know about the character.

Like this easygoing feline, Marlowe is too wily to be tricked. A thug like Marty Augustine can put a gun (or smashed Coke bottle) to his head and force him to strip down next to a young Arnold Schwarzenegger while cracking jokes all the while. But do him wrong as a friend and that laissez-faire demeanor will turn on you faster than a stray cat pet the wrong way. Marlowe might be skipping to Hollywood showtunes in Mexico by the end, but one thing's for sure...not everything is OK by him.

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