Robert Altman directs Elliot Gould, Sterling Hayden and Nina van Pallandt in this detective drama where Phillip Marlowe looks for a missing writer while he investigates his friend’s wife’s murder.
Ambling, meta and damn near perfect. Elliot Gould’s Marlowe is a mumbling piece of driftwood gently pulled along between waves of conspiracy and the tide of the truth. He slopes scruffily through lengthy scenes, letting them unravel at their own natural pace. It is a knowing, relaxed and expert piece of comedy acting in an otherwise hard edged, serious mystery. A progenitor for Chevy Chase in Fletch and especially Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. If you are a fan of either of those movies… and you should love both those movies… then this will be right up your street. You are so enthralled by Gould’s detached, out of sync Marlowe buying late night catfood or watching stray dogs rut from a bus window that the violent mystery elements creep up on you. When the old school crime strands intrude, they feel like eruptions. A funny, lonely counter culture rebranding of the old noir tropes that you should just let wash over you until it reaches its shockingly impactful conclusion. HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD!
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