Essay on Robert Altmans The Long Goodbye As A Genre Revisionist Film

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"Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye attempts to do a very interesting thing. It tries to be all genre and no story… It makes no serious effort to reproduce the Raymond Chandler detective novel… it just takes all the characters out of that novel and lets them stew together in something that feels like a private-eye movie."

The period of American cinema between 1965 and 1975 produced many films that almost completely restructured classical Hollywood’s accepted genre conventions. A fine example of this would be Robert Altman's iconoclastic take on Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye (1973), a detective film based on the final book in Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series. Altman, who is known for
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The Big Sleep has been called a classic. It is a film that is memorable because of the dialogue between Bogart and Lauren Bacall, a couple with proven sexual chemistry, as well as the feverish, driving pace of the plot. In the 1940’s, Marlowe is the handsome, tough, and hard-boiled detective we love and expect. The illusion is complete when he dons a felt hat and hits the mean streets to get the bad guys. He is omnipotent. Watch Altman's version, and the illusion is shattered in subsequent viewing. Marlowe's demand for only $25 per day plus expenses; his shabby apartment, his dirty clothes, and his old, beat-up car all prove that this Marlowe is not the ultra-cool, suave detective that everyone knows. In fact, he is a bit of a bum.
When Marlowe is interrogated at the station, he is the center of the frame while the police circle about him like gnats firing questions. All the while Marlowe plays with the inky smears left by the fingerprinting procedure, jokingly referring to Al Jolsen. He does this while looking at his reflection in a two-way mirror, as if to demonstrate his contempt for the police authorities he knows are watching on the other side of the glass. Later, when he confronts the police face to face at the scene of Wade's suicide,

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