The Long Goodbye (1973)

The Long Goodbye (1973)

Directed by Robert Altman

The Long Goodbye is an adaptation from a book with the same title written by Raymond Chandler.  Like his others film, this film shows his film style and techniques that later become his trademark.  It has slow pacing, long takes and lots of dialogues; not so really enjoyable for those who get bored easily.

Like Chinatown, this film is considered a contemporary noir film, is told through the eyes of a private detective who mumbling a lot. The main male lead character, Mr. Marlowe’s personality is nothing like a western hero or an all time classic spy like James Bond. Marlowe talks a lot. He always plays jokes and rather spends time with a cat than girls. However, he is clever and good at what he does. He’s good at facing problems and always remains chill and clam under pressure.

Another issue is that his cat somewhat reflects his personality as well. We usually see cat as calm, independent and clever. Which are really related to him.  And there’re many scenes where we see dogs in the film. Dogs are known for their loyalty to the owner (only when the owner give them food).  They are more socialize and more active than cats.

In his ordinary world, he lives quietly with a cat. However, when he enters the special world (Mrs. Wade’s house), her dog runs in and barks at him as a stranger. Therefore, people in his special world are like dogs. For example, in the scene that Mr. Wade is in a party and the doctor comes for his money. Comparing between the sizes between both, the doctor is a lot smaller. Mr. Wade shouts and laughs at the doctor in front of everybody. The doctor slaps him at the face. Mr. Wade stops laughing and later he gives money back to the doctor without doing anything back. Therefore, Mr. Wade character is like the dog that just barks and runs away.

Dogs in the film also act like as symbolic. For example, when Marlowe enters Mexico, a dog follows him. Then the camera pan to the dogs that are humping at the middle of the street. Later he goes in to the police station and asks them about Terry suicide case. I feel like the previous shot of the dogs somehow relates to the feeling of the uncivilized and corruption. The polices lie to Marlow to protect Terry(Terry gave them money to cover up the case). However, on Marlowe’s second trip to Mexico, he bribes those polices for the truth. The polices then accept the bribe and tell him where Terry actually is. Therefore, the polices in the story are like dogs. You give them food/money and they will be your owner. You stop giving them food and someone else comes along and gives them. They will soon no longer under your command.


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