The Long Goodbye

On the east coast we have hundreds -maybe thousands- or signs advertising “George Washington slept here.” I’m sure if you did the math there are more signs than there were possible nights in his life. In LA they have a similar phenomenon but the signs say “Elliot Gould lit a match on this surface to light a cigarette in The Long Goodbye.”

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a loser portrayed quite like this. Every moment of every scene bends over backwards to find a new way to humiliate Marlowe. But he doesn’t give a shit. He’s already lost. There’s a zen sadness to him that all the early 70s yoga freaks in LA can’t even touch. He’s dealing with something bigger and more profoundly melancholy than the plot of this movie. It was wise of Altman to just let that be. Marlow isn’t really here to impress anybody. He’s like a Popeye with normal arms who never found spinach and so never once beat Bluto. Sometimes he’ll stumble into making himself laugh and it’s unimportant to either him or the movie if you’re in on it or not. I found that unbelievably moving.

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