11 January 2014

Stuff About My Day So Far But More Stuff About Elliot Gould as the Great Private Detective Marlowe in The Long Goodbye

"Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies.
I was lying in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes.
I was hoping for replacement
When the sun burst thru the sky.
There was a band playing in my head
And I felt like getting high". - From 'After the Goldrush' by Neil Young

I was looking for something on the internet but I forgot what and got lost looking at nothing and “everything” all at once and I got confused and depressed and giddy all at once but ultimately the purposelessness of it overwhelmed me and I picked up a book.

I read for awhile. There were a lot of words strung together in such a fashion as to form sentences and paragraphs and even chapters. I read some of the chapters and I thought about what I read and related it to my own experiences and opinions and ways of looking at the world and it was all okay.

So then I went and spoiled it all by going back on the internet which had too much which equated to too little and sucked up my time with its maddening trivia and again the world purposelessness.

So I took a nap.

I felt well rested and refreshed and happy. Then in my email was a message from a cousin telling me about one two three deaths.  All of older people not at all tragic and none unexpected and none of people I’d seen in decades although to be honest and truthful I wasn’t sure who one of the people was. One died on Christmas and another on New Years and the other I don’t know when and she’s the one who I’m not sure who she is. People die all the time. Others are born. I was born. Just the once. I imagine I’ll die too and it’ll be just the one time.

Life is finite. In case you didn’t know.

My wife made me poached eggs on toast and it was really good and then she made coffee and it was really good too. And I watched a movie called The Long Goodbye (1973) directed by Robert Altman starring Elliot Gould and it was oh so 1970s a decade I lived in and very much liked and please it was so much more than disco. Man please.

Gould played Phillip Marlowe a fictional detective created by the great Raymond Chandler from his hard boiled -- not poached -- detective novels.

First of all Gould made an excellent (Jewish!) Marlowe. Quite unlike the Bogie Marlowe of The Big Sleep (1946) or the Dick Powell Marlowe of Murder My Sweet (1944) or the Robert Montgomery Marlowe of Lady in the Lake (1947). Different. Vive la. So many Marlowes is he such a compelling character or is he in such good stories? Yeah there's a bit of both there. We sure like out private detectives provided they're in interesting circumstances. They are loners facing dangers often representing good and combatting evil. But they don't have the stain of being of the establishment like cops. There is usually some action gunplay but the private eye is usually a contemplative soul so there are more musings then special effects. In fact a good cinematic private eye is often a complicated sort although he can be pretty straight forward about doing the right thing and following a strict code. Oh yeah and they don't take shit from nobody be that somebody a cop or a hood or a dame who's lying.

I liked the film which I’d seen before decades ago when those people who died recently were still alive and the babies and toddlers and small children and teens of today were as yet unborn. (Isn’t being born the best? I don’t mean the physical process just the fact of it -- being ahh-live! Baby!).

Altman set out to capture the California of the Seventies and succeeded. You wanna know what it looked like felt like back then there’s your movie.  It was fun how Gould as Marlowe stumbled and shambled and tottered through the film. This was intentional he was supposed to be a sort of Rip Van Marlowe awake again after decades asleep. Smoking smoking and smoking like a chimney and driving a car from the Forties and sorting through a murder suicide second murder case although who is really dead and who is not and who did it is not a certainty and Marlowe is being lied to by some and that sure is the lot of detectives in movies and maybe in “real” life too.

Sterling Hayden plays a Hemingway like writer. Director Mark Rydell plays a Jewish hood and one of his thugs went on to be governor of California (guess). Former baseball player Jim Bouton plays Terry Lennox Marlowe’s old friend who is suspect and a person of interest to our mobster friend.

The movie moves nicely as does Altman's cameras which takes no static shots. Everything is sort of off kilter and confusing like the way Gould mumbles yet it all makes sense and easy to follow. The off centered ness of it all could make one queasy but doesn't. We're engaged in the story and character and the way it remains true to its own purpose and vision and visual sense.

This. Is. A. Good. Movie. Largely because its so damned unique in its style and look and Gould is such an interesting choice and effective one to play Marlowe. And now maybe I’ve got to buy a Chandler novel and read it even although I’ve got stacks of unread books to get to which I never will if I spend much more time being on the stupid goddamned internet and its time wasting. Ness. Proclivities.

Thank you poached eggs and good coffee and good movies and good books and good health and birth for making life so bearably wonderful and possible.

"A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night
You see us together,
chasing the moonlight,
My cinnamon girl". - From 'Cinnamon Girl' by Neil Young

1 comment:

Home theater austin said...

True. This is such a great movie. One thing that is very notable... I love the lines, they are brief yet too strong in meaning.