‘The Long Goodbye’ Special Edition Blu-Ray Review – Elliott Gould Brings Classic Detective To Life In Robert Altman Favorite

Elliott Gould (Busting) gives one of his best performances as a quirky, mischievous Philip Marlowe in Robert Altman’s (Thieves Like Us) fascinating and original send-up of Raymond Chandler’s classic detective story. Co-starring Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell and Henry Gibson with a screenplay by Leigh Brackett (The Big Sleep), The Long Goodbye is a gloriously inspired tribute to Hollywood with an ending that’s as controversial as it is provocative. Private eye Philip Marlowe (Gould) faces the most bizarre case of his life, when a friend’s apparent suicide turns into a double murder involving a sexy blonde, a disturbed gangster and a suitcase of drug money. But as Marlowe stumbles toward the truth, he soon finds himself lost in a maze of sex and deceit – only to discover that in L.A., if love is dangerous… friendship is murder.

For thoughts on The Long Goodbye, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic here

Video Quality

The Long Goodbye comes to Blu-Ray with a digital AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.39:1 that is derived from a fresh new 4K master after being previously released by Kino Classics with an older, dated master from MGM. The new presentation is pretty remarkable throughout most of the runtime, although some limitations keep it from being perfect. Instances of print damage have all but been eradicated, and overall clarity and detail is stunning. This transfer maintains the natural film grain of the presentation with only very minor instances of it seeming a bit clumpy. The picture is intentionally hazy as conceived by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and colors are well saturated in a visually splendid way. Skin tones are natural and consistent with subtle facial features easily noticeable in closeup. The main issue arises when it comes to the black levels, as they can often become overbearing with some crush and loss of fine detail in the darkest moments. The color grading seems slightly shifted compared to previous releases, so purists may balk at the fresh new look of the film. Even with some slight knocks against it, this presentation is quite impressive and should especially please those who are new to the material. 

Audio Quality

This Blu-Ray comes with a lossless DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that handles this material quite well. The track provides a lot of great atmospheric effects in the more kinetic portions of the film that engage the speakers including various car sounds. Dialogue comes through clear in the center channel without being overwhelmed by any sound effects or score, even with the famous overlapping dialogue. The track has a good sense of directionality with sounds always coming from the appropriate spots. The movie makes good use of the action beats as certain moments feel appropriately heavy in the mix. The track maintains excellent fidelity throughout the runtime with only the most minor wear during some of the music. This audio presentation is a pretty great effort that brings the film to life in a very pleasing way. 

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Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: Film Historian Tim Lucas provides a very steady, immensely informative commentary track in which he gives background details on the careers of the talent involved with the picture, the music in the film, the similarities and differences in relation to the Raymond Chandler source material, the characterization of Philip Marlowe, the direction of Robert Altman, cinematography techniques and much more that makes for a great listen. 
  • Rip Van Marlowe – Robert Altman and Elliott Gould: A 25-minute featurette in which the director and star of the feature discuss the origins of the project, what made the project appealing, the characterization of Marlowe, making the material work in the modern era, the ensemble cast, the marketing campaign and more. 
  • Vilmos Zsigmond Flashes The Long Goodbye: A nearly 15-minute featurette in which cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond discusses his personal background, his relationship with Robert Altman, the unique look he gave the film, the unique staging of the performers, how they achieved some key scenes and more. 
  • David Thompson On Robert Altman: A 21-minute piece in which ​​writer and filmmaker David Thompson, who edited Altman on Altman and produced Robert Altman in England for the BBC, discusses the career of the filmmaker, his disagreements with studios, how The Long Goodbye fits into his output, work with specific performers, the look he brought to the feature and more. 
  • Tom Williams On Raymond Chandler: A nearly 15-minute examination of author Raymond Chandler by Tom Williams, author of A Mysterious Something in the Light: Raymond Chandler: A Life, in which he discusses his early life and career, the character of Philip Marlowe, cinematic adaptations of his work, the unique qualities of the Robert Altman film and more. 
  • Maxim Jakubowski on Hard Boiled Fiction: A nearly 15-minute featurette with crime writer, critic and editor Maxim Jakubowski in which he speaks to hard boiled stories and noir in literature, the qualities that the material usually exemplified, the evolution over the decades, how the cinematic counterparts compare to the novels, the timeless qualities of The Long Goodbye and more. 
  • American Cinematographer 1973 Article: You can flip through an article discussing the techniques cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond brought to The Long Goodbye
  • Trailers From Hell With Josh Olson: A three-minute video with screenwriter Josh Olson in which he discusses various elements about The Long Goodbye
  • Radio Spots: Three-and-a-half minutes worth of radio spots are provided here. 
  • TV Spots: A 30-second TV spot is provided here. 
  • Trailers: This disc provides Trailer 1 (2:32) and Trailer 2 (2:51) for The Long Goodbye. There are also trailers provided for Busting, The Silent Partner and Winter Kills
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Final Thoughts

The Long Goodbye ranks high among the greatest Robert Altman films, as he brings the hard boiled detective tales of the past and honors it with his own interpretation. The performance from Elliott Gould is likewise a career highlight, taking the classic character of Philip Marlowe and handling him with care in this new context. The core source material is meaty and compelling, but the guidance of Altman turns it into something masterful on screen. Kino Classics has delivered a great new Blu-Ray with a strong A/V presentation and a host of engaging special features. If you are even the slightest bit interested in this one, you owe it to yourself to add it to your collection. Recommended

The Long Goodbye is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.


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