The Long Goodbye Film Essay

908 Words4 Pages
Robert Altman’s 1973 film, The Long Goodbye, follows Detective Phillip Marlowe, as portrayed by Elliott Gould, in his effort to disclose the truth behind the alleged death of his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) and Mrs. Lennox. Straddling the line between paying homage to and satirizing the film noir genre, the only similarities between the leading character of The Long Goodbye and a classic film noir are situational rather than characteristic. While the film’s protagonist is presented with conventions such as a case that is in need of solving, finds himself at odds with the mob, and police force provide no relevant support, beyond circumstantial parallels, Marlowe is presented as the antithesis of the usual, hard-boiled, protagonist of…show more content…
In the scene where he is looking for Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden) at a private detoxification clinic, Marlowe attempts to ask the staff where he can be found and is usually answered or interrupted with shushing or is ignored completely. Rather receiving answers with ease and efficiency as expected in a film noir, Marlowe is ineffective and occasionally, as this scene suggests, ultimately futile. While much of the staff and patients within the clinic are dressed in muted pastels or white, Marlowe stands out in his dark suit which echoes that of a film noir protagonist. Unlike the classic film noir protagonist however, Marlowe’s contrasting wardrobe is representative of how out of place he is in relation to the rest of society. Demonstrated in this scene, while he seems to be misplaced. rather than reacting to him, the world surrounding Marlowe is indifferent to his existence. This apathy towards Marlowe perpetuates Marlowe’s tendency to drift and exist as a reaction as opposed to the action by offering him little to no response and, therefore, no sense of direction. Marlowe already being somewhat oblivious to the lack of control he has, therefore remains unburdened by his own
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