The Long Goodbye

The final entry into Noirvember 2021. Private Investigator? I barely even know her! The 1973 entry into the annals of detective movies by Robert Altman starring Elliott Gould.

There’s a lot to talk about and I won’t mention any of it. I’ll try not to. This one is coming out hot so keep your eyes peeled for any updates here.

This movie definitely has some content warnings that the 70’s just didn’t have. Marty Augustine is huge on that. He’s the prototype for the Heath Ledger Joker, pretty much. He’s like “what if the Joker was a chill dude within the system versus outside of it?” It’s wild.

High Tower Court is a wild place. Really.

High Tower Court like overlooks the Hollywood Bowl (or is super nearby). This area is pretty magical to me. Coming from flatland the elevation changes alone are wonderful. But it’s mysterious. It’s fascinating. I saw a musical at the Hollywood Bowl and it definitely felt like something.

A Simple Favor, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, feels like an update version of The Long Goodbye. It’s an interesting movie. I liked it a lot more than I initially thought I would although it’s maybe more inspired by the text than the film. Still, worth mentioning. Also, Michael Connolley’s second Bosch book, The Black Ice, is inspired by a mix of the book and the film. I liked that book quite a bit as well.

I feel like “el porto del gato” inspired the “GATO!!!” in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Shane Black isn’t above that. “El Porto” is an unusual way to say “the door” in Spanish. I’d go for “la puerta” but I learned not too long ago that “porton” was an older word for a door based on the name of a restaurant. So I’ll accept it as being fine although, in the book, the Spanish isn’t always exactly on point. Chandler was born in Chicago and grew up in England so the actual fuck did he know about Spanish. That doesn’t detract from the story or anything but he’s such a picky little bastard about his hoighty toighyt literary references you’d think he’d spend a little more time getting that right. But Chandler had a lot of his own issues.

I didn’t mention Dr. Veringer at all and I’m sure there’s a lot to mention there but he’s played by the Illinois Nazi from The Blues Brothers, Henry Gibson. Wonderful character actor. I also didn’t mention the kid working at the grocery store or Marlowe subsequently seeing him in jail. Good stuff. There’s a lot of that. I also didn’t mention dogs. But there was the one white dog in the middle of the road that Marlowe calls “Asta”. He’s got a cigarette in his mouth so it sounds like Astor as if it was a rich person or an Iranian prophet but it’s definitely Asta the dog from The Thin Man. The director and screenwriter(s) definitely know about Film Noir and detective movies and books and they consciously chose to not quite do that. The Thin Man movie slaps, though. Super good.

I think that Roger Wade was an insert for Chandler but also a reference to Hammett. I organically compared Hammett to Hemingway in that last episode but it turns out that was far from an original thought. He’s a tall (6’5″ or 195-196cm) bearded man who is wildly alcoholic which is a dead ringer for Hemingway. In Cuba tall men are referred to as a “Hemingway”. Or were. Chandler, probably, had a bit of an inferiority complex with regards to Hammett who was the originator–the creator from which Chandler modeled his work. But Chandler also probably used that character as an insert himself–being problematically alcoholic.

David Carradine has a cameo that focuses on the prison industrial complex and the impending “war on drugs”. That was wild.

The car that Marlowe drives in this movie was Elliott Gould’s actual car at the time. It was a 1948 Lincoln Continental. Really wild. I maintain that cars got cool in the 50’s. If you come at be with “but uughghgugh t-buckets and ’32 fords” yeah those didn’t look like how we think they look like now until the late 40’s and early 50’s when the GIs came back from military service and had fabrication and mechanical experience and few outlets to get that programming out. But that’s when hot rods really took flight. And then the Tri-5’s and the Barracuda came out. It’s a whole cascade of cool cars around that time. Apropos of nothing, F1 is really cool. If you haven’t ever really been into it you can check out F1: Drive to Survive on Netflix. It’ll bring you in and explain things along with giving you the stories. Expecto Petronas.

Lennox calls Marlowe a “born loser”. Lennox and Marlowe weren’t friends quite like that in the book–it was more chill and Marlowe was more taking on a charity case as well as sticking to his principles and finding another misfit to get along with. When I said it was a reverse The Great Gatsby I meant it. Just Lennox wasn’t the Gatsby. Elieen Wade was the Gatsby and she was murderous. It felt stupid after a while but the writing was compelling.

Vilmos Zsigmond is a gangster. The free-roaming camera of this movie was wonderful. I didn’t talk about it enough and I didn’t inspect this enough but I was short on time and energy. Being sick sucks, team. It really does.

I know there were some flubs and yeah, there’s not images in this one. Sorry team. I just didn’t have the fuel for it. I’ll see you sometime next year. I’m still on twitter @coolmarkd feel free to tweet @ me. I don’t think DMs are on because I’m not really up for receiving communications from strangers that they wouldn’t be OK with saying publicly.

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon

That’s all I wanted on the first line. If you don’t know, now you know. Definitely watch this one before listening.

Housekeeping stuff:

Yes, I didn’t mention Arthur Edeson at all. I mentioned the cinematography but the cinematographer went unacknowledged. The fact of the matter is that, at the time of this writing, which is actually the time before the recording because I’m sick again but in new and different ways, but I know I’m not going to mention him because, to be honest, he needs an episode for himself. And I will aspire to do that. But I need to get watching because he’s worked on a bunch of movies. Just the fact that he worked on this and Casablanca makes him an All Star but when you look at his filmography–wow. But it looked like I had more than enough to talk about this episode so instead of getting into all that I’m going to defer talking about him until I can do so in another episode.

I was going to prepare some images. I guess I should do that now. And in the process I wanted to use a cool Photoshop 3D arrow (I’ve used the 3D stuff in Photoshop before and it was pretty cool). I got alerted that the 3D stuff was going away because of Technology and now I can’t see anything from the file that I’d spent some time already working on. I don’t have the constitution for this right now. Should have been using Paint 3D, amirite?

Ok, I just had to close it and open it twice. No big deal, right? One down, and ?? to go. I’ll see what tier of Photoshop I can undertake.

Oh! Fun fact. That poster image that I have up there is the one from the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray also has several radio adaptations of the Maltese Falcon with the stars of the movie themselves. Very cool. The original movie posters (or original-looking at any rate) where a bit boosted. One has Bogart holding two guns like he’s going to use them. Hilarious.

One thing I don’t think I’m going to mention is just how gross Sam Spade is with women in the 1931 movie. I told you it was definitely hornier and it was. He had something obvious going on with Effie, and then with Wonderly, and with Iva, and who knows who else. But the Effie one really got me. She’s just there working and it’s all touchy and feely. Yikes. In the 1941 movie Effie is his wingman and I’d like to think that she just knows better. Give her credit. She’s young but she isn’t an idiot and doesn’t confuse Spade’s attention with a relationship.

I used the AI colorization from Adobe to color in that frame. I really do think the AI colorization is 100% on the money and they did, indeed, wear makeup to make them look better in black and white. I shot exclusively black and white photographs for a few years and life is a little different when you see it that way. I mean it could be off–a pink shirt on Humphrey Bogart might not have flown too far in 1941 but whatever. Probably don’t watch that version. The makeup is unnerving. Just a quick search and yes, their makeup was unusual. These images are decently large, btw. Feel free to zoom in. If you’re reading this in your podcatcher, well, I suggest a larger screen for the images. I realize that I used several types of arrows. I apologize for that. Just trying out which ones felt right. Turns out it was none of them, a little bit. And that 3D arrow was such a pain in the ass. Why that shade of blue? It’s calming. I’m sure you’ve seen it before.

This is what I mean when I say that it was basically a screenplay. It’s told with the “vision” of the detective–a common trope–but even then it’s told with an “audience” in mind. The narrator is not omniscient and that naturally lends itself to screenplays due to the point of view by which the story is told. We are “shown”, not “told”. And we know exactly what we would need to know but we are latched on to that main character. There is absolutely zero reason why we shouldn’t have known what was said on the other end of that phone call with Sam Spade if we were “seeing it through his eyes”. We aren’t–we’re following him so skillfully that neither he nor anyone else knows we’re there. This is also a Library of America Hammett book with all the novels. The pages are paper thin but whatever. It’s the books and you can read them.

I flubbed the phonofilm explanation–it’s a sound on disc system. I probably flubbed some other things. That Willie Mays Hayes reference is from Major League if you didn’t pick that up. If you haven’t seen Major League… well you should. The Soundman. I had a lawnmower coming up on the recording during this part and I couldn’t postpone so I needed to work some magic on it. That’s why it sounds a little different for a bit. This story is so good and so wild.

I also really hope people 1. like the orchestra hit joke and 2. get that it’s a joke. I don’t take myself that seriously but I just didn’t have another transition to work with.

Again, super hoping that you saw the movie before you listened but also before you even read this. The book, compared to the movie, leaves much less to the imagination. I don’t know that it’s better or worse–just different. In the book some of the questions that I posed are just straight up explained. And perhaps they were explained in the movie as well and I just missed the forest for the trees–that happens to me, too. But O’Shaughnessy basically, yes, did exactly hire Spade and Archer exactly to get got by Thursby. She improvised and shot Miles with Thursby’s gun and that was a frame up–she was trying to keep Thursby on ice at least until La Paloma came in to port. The other thing about the book is that it had a couple of red herrings that didn’t amount to anything. The dangling storyline of Iva not being home long before Effie showed up was, honestly, better left hanging. It didn’t amount to anything. There was also a thing with Miles’ brother and we don’t even see him. It’s meant to gum up the works but, in a movie, you can’t fuck around too much. A lot more latitude for that in a book.

Also, due to various issues (mostly health), I had precious little time to record and edit this. No time for pickups. I’m positive that I said some incorrect things and I apologize but you probably know what I meant.

I left out a lot about the personal lives of the actors. I touched on Bogart’s a little bit up until the point of The Falcon but there was more to it than that. Like how, Bogart meets Lauren Bacall who is like 20 years younger than he is (and also a knockout) and they get married. That’s controversial. But by all accounts that I’ve seen it was a happy marriage. No return of the “Battling Bogarts” from his previous relationships.

Mary Astor was going through a lot on her own. There was a significant sex scandal attached to her name and things like that were not easy to get through in those days. Honestly, it seems pretty cruel and unfortunate so it’s not necessarily worth reading about but understand that this was a big movie for her.

I deleted twitter from my phone but if you send me a message or @ me I may get the email and reinstall it. Why, you ask? Just tired of it. Tired of the “a lot of people like this but it’s actually bad and they are bad too” takes. I normally missed those but I’ve been on my phone a lot more since I’ve been less mobile and it just got to me. I did have a lot of fun putting this episode together and I got some really cool music from Cloud Road Music but life, uh, finds a way to mess me up. They were really hip to the idea and got back to me right away. Good times.

Be nice to people. Keep your eyes open for people co-opting what you work for and what you believe in. Stay safe.