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ELLIOTT GOULD & STERLING HAYDEN DRINK TO 'THE LONG GOODBYE'

Sterling Hayden as Roger Wade Year: 1973 Rating: *****

Although Sterling Hayden's semi-senile has-been writer never says anything as crazy as “I got hairy legs that turn blond in the sun... The kids used to come up and reach in the pool and rub my leg down so it was straight, and then watch the hair come back up again... I learned about roaches and I like when kids jump on my lap," he is a man at the end of his rope, and is technically the most important character in Robert Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE, based on a Raymond Chandler novel where the historically tough-handsome gumshoe Philip Marlowe is turned into a lazy, hippie-friendly slob in Elliott Gould, perfectly cast against type and at his very best...

Particularly a scene where he and Hayden's Roger Wade (hired by Wade's mesmerizing trophy wife) share an afternoon drink at the couple's Malibu beach-backyard, and it's here Wade learns that Marlowe's not such a "ding-a-ling" after all: And like any kind of Noir, most of the last-name-spouting/roundabout dialog is meant to put the gumshoe into mazes as puzzling to him as the audience: Though the basic plot is simple enough as Marlowe's lifelong buddy supposedly killed himself in Mexico after supposedly killing his wife in Malibu; and to give away any more would be a crime. But what makes director Altman shine behind his actors (including Mark Rydell as a surprisingly vicious gangster and David Arkin as his clumsy henchmen) is that the camera literally never stops moving, and yet it hardly seems to noticeably move all that much at all — subtle genius by the spontaneous auteur whose real agenda is to focus on the characters... despite how completely out-of-focus they may initially seem.

Sterling Hayden and Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE
Sterling Hayden and Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE
Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE
Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE
Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE
Jim Bouton in THE LONG GOODBYE
Jerry Jones, Elliott Gould and John Davies in The Long Goodbye
Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE with Sterling Hayden
Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE with Nina van Pallandt
David Arkin and Elliott Gould in THE LONG GOODBYE
Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo as a muscular mute goon in The Long Goodbye
David Carradine quick prison cameo in THE LONG GOODBYE
Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe in THE LONG GOODBYE
Sterling Hayden as Roger Wade in THE LONG GOODBYE

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Sword in the Desert Year: 1949 Rating: ***1/2 Although approved by the British Film Board, SWORD IN THE DESERT was banned in England, and it...

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