Combustible Celluloid
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With: Elliot Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Jim Bouton, Warren Berlinger, Jo Ann Brody, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Written by: Leigh Brackett, based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
Directed by: Robert Altman
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 112
Date: 03/06/1973

The Long Goodbye (1973)

4 Stars (out of 4)

It's OK with Me

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Robert Altman took on a Raymond Chandler novel and re-set it in the 1970s with a shabby Philip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) living in a world of hippies, stoners and freaks. He agrees to help out a friend accused of killing his wife and ends up meeting the drunken, Hemingway-esque writer Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden, in a great performance). Altman further turns the genre on its ear with his audacious ending. Uber-composer John Williams turned in one of his most unique scores here: a series of endless variations on the same tune (Muzak, blues, etc.). Future governer of California Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in an early, unbilled role as a thug.

MGM's widescreen transfer of this great classic was one of the great pleasures of this DVD year. The disc contains two short featurettes and a trailer. In 2014, Kino Lorber released a great new Blu-ray, with several new extras: "Rip Van Marlowe" (featurette with Altman and Gould), an American Cinematographer article from 1973 with animation, "Vilmos Zsigmond Flashes The Long Goodbye," radio spots, and a trailer.

Kino Lorber's 2021 Blu-ray release boasts a new 4K master, and it looks amazing. We get several new bonuses, too, along with the ones mentioned above, including a most welcome commentary track by Tim Lucas. Other new bonuses include a featurette on Altman by critic David Thompson, a featurette on Raymond Chandler by Tom Williams, a featurette on hard-boiled fiction by Maxim Jakubowski, and a "Trailers from Hell" episode, with Josh Olson. It also comes with a cardboard slipcover, with poster art by Jack Davis (of MAD Magazine)! Highly Recommended.

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