main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye is a 1973 film directed by Robert Altman and starring Elliott Gould as detective Philip Marlowe. It was adapted from the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name by Leigh Brackett (who earlier co-wrote the most famous film version of Chandler's The Big Sleep).

This film has examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Eileen Wade is not the Femme Fatale she is in the book.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Terry Lennox IS the murderer, after all! While the book didn't exactly have this character come across as particularly clean by the end, still, lying to your friend and letting him deal with the consequences still isn't as bad as murder....
  • Adapted Out: Most blatantly, Linda Loring—the classy yet just-as-snarky-as-Marlowe Spirited Young Lady whom Marlowe meets in the book during his investigation. She's the sister of Terry's late wife, and shares Marlowe's doubts that Terry killed anyone—and thus, becomes Marlowe's ally and uneasy assistant in his investigation. Chandler's purpose for her was to be the "Princess In Sour Dress" to Marlowe's Knight in Sour Armor—and their parting near the book's end forces the detective to begin examining his love of isolation. In the movie, she's nowhere to be found, and instead Altman has Marlowe strike up a complicated relationship with Mrs. Wade—who, ironically, was the murderer in the book.
  • The Alcoholic: Roger Wade
  • Ambulance Cut: Marlowe runs into the street, gets hit by a car, and we cut to the ambulance.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The Wades' dog is never violent, but it is always barking angrily whenever Marlowe is around.
  • Appeal To Worse Problems: A variation of the "starving children in Africa" argument: when the cat doesn't want to eat, he says, "What about all the tigers in India they're killing because they don't got enough to eat?"
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Marlowe is a professional — he's always got that suit.
  • Book Ends: The song Hooray For Hollywood plays at the beginning and the end of the film.
  • Born in the Wrong Decade:Marlowe is man holding fifties values, trying to survive in a cynical seventies L.A.
  • Butt Monkey: Marlowe as part of the deconstruction of private eyes. He's a man who lacks a Friend on the Force as the police have no idea who he is. He is no ladies man, as the girls next door make fun of him and the villains frequently get the better of him in fights. He also loses his cat.
  • Catch Phrase: "It's OK with me."
  • Cluster F-Bomb: A few.
  • Cool Car: Marlowe's 1948 Lincoln Continental convertible
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover shows Marlowe holding a Beretta 92SB, even though it didn't even exist when the film was made, and a poster has him holding a Colt Detective Special with the Tag Line "Nothing says goodbye like a bullet", a line from an early script that was never incorperated into the final movie, yet he uses a Smith and Wesson Model 10 at the end.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Marlowe notices a bruise on Eileen's cheek, and says it doesn't look like she walked into a door. She says that she didn't. She fell out of bed.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Practically everything Marlowe says is a snark.
  • Deconstruction: Supposedly Altman wanted the film to be one, Up to Eleven, of the whole "Private-Eye" genre—to the point where it would actually more or less put an end to these kinds of movies. Didn't happen, of course.
  • Death by Adaptation: Terry Lennox. "Yeah. I lost my cat."
  • Destroy The Product Placement: The hero is interrupted by a gangster who is accompanied by his goons and his lovely mistress. Said mistress interrupts the gangster's rant, by informing him that she’s thirsty and would like a Coke. One of his goons fetches an open bottle from the refrigerator. The gangster swigs from it, complains that it’s flat, and then swings it into the mistress’ face, causing it to break and leaving her in pain.
  • Driven to Suicide: Roger.
  • Faking the Dead: Lennox is still alive.
  • The Film of the Book: Although it changes the time period and the identity of the killer in the end. And Marlowe's One True Love in the book, Linda Loring, is noticeably absent—apparently to make room for a more "fleshed-out" Mrs. Wade.
  • First Name Basis: Mrs. Wade asks Marlowe to start calling her Eileen.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a neo-noir with a heavy dose of surrealism and black comedy.
  • Genre Savvy: Marlowe, on the typical if-this-were-a-movie dialogue for interrogation scenes:
    "So, this is where I say, 'What's all this about?'—and he says, uh, 'Shut up, I ask the questions'?"
    "That's right!"
    • He actually says this in the book, too.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The cat door has "El Porto del Gato" written on it. Also, Augustine talks to his Mexican mook in Spanish, even though the guy always answers in English.
  • Kick the Dog: Marty Augustine breaks a Coke bottle on his mistress's face immediately after telling her she's the most important person in his life just to prove to Marlowe that he means business. Even his hired goons think that went too far.
  • Los Angeles: The film celebrates the odd locales and characters that inhabit the city.
  • Never Suicide: Although Wade really does kill himself, Terry Lennox faked his death.
  • The Nicknamer: Roger Wade has nicknames for almost everybody.
  • Police Are Useless
  • Private Detective: Perhaps the most famous one of all time...
  • Recurring Riff: Every piece of music, even a doorbell ring, is the tune of the titular song.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: In the interrogation room.
    Cop: Are you crazy?
    Marlowe: Yes.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Marlowe smokes cigarettes incessantly and in nearly every scene.
  • Title Theme Tune: Played throughout.
  • Vanity License Plate: Mrs. Wade's says "Lov You."
  • Vigilante Execution: Marlowe blows Terry Lennox away after discovering he murdered his wife and betrayed his best friend. This is a change from the novel, where Lennox gets away with it scot-free.
  • Writer's Block: Roger Wade suffers from this.
The Little Shop of HorrorsDanny Peary Cult Movies ListMad Max
Lady SnowbloodFilms of the 1970sThe Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob
The Life and Death of Colonel BlimpRoger Ebert Great Movies ListLost in Translation

alternative title(s): The Long Goodbye
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy