THE LONG GOODBYE (Rated R, 112 min., Color, Aspect: 2.35:1, United Artists, March 7, 1973)
Dan Blocker (Hoss from TV’s Bonanza) and Robert Altman are one of those Hollywood pairings that doesn’t make sense on paper but makes perfect sense in the broader context of the fellowship of creative people. Altman and Blocker met when the director helmed a few episodes of that very un-Altman-like TV series. Altman wanted his friend to play the role of Roger Wade in THE LONG GOODBYE — and was ready to scrap the whole project when Blocker died suddenly in 1972. (The film is dedicated to Blocker.) Enter Sterling Hayden. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Roger Wade. Hayden’s performance feels both powerful and timeless upon every viewing.
In the hands of a lesser script, actors, or director, the conceits of this film would be gimmicky. Blessed with this cast, crew and screenplay — THE LONG GOODBYE is a master work. It’s a testament to how talented artists and craftspeople can break the rules (the constant, unmotivated camera movement), create inside jokes (the ever changing treatment of the movie’s theme song as both score and source music), play with a sacrosanct genre, and still achieve something sublime.
If nothing else, THE LONG GOODBYE is a time capsule of early 1970s Los Angeles — and a grand, gritty one at that.
Director: Robert Altman, Writers: Leigh Brackett (Screenplay), Raymond Chandler (Novel), Eric Maschitz (Screenplay), Producer: Jerry Bick, Cinematographer: Vilmos Zsigmond, Composer: John Williams, Editor: Lou Lombardo
CAST: Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Jim Bouton
Watched on Bluray from Kino Lorber (20th Century Fox, MGM)
*Most Mondays I watch a classic or historically significant movie that falls into one of these categories: 1) Have never seen it, or 2) Have never seen it uncut, or 3) Have only seen it once, or 4) Haven’t seen it in a very long time.
Some information from: IMDb Pro, BoxOfficeMojo