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The Long Goodbye (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Long Goodbye (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: December 7th, 2021.
    Director: Robert Altman
    Cast: Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Long Goodbye – Movie Review:

    Based on the novel of the same name and directed by Robert Altman in 1973, The Long Goodbye opens in the Los Angeles apartment of private investigator Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould). Woken up in the middle of the night by his cat, Marlowe is soon paid a visit by his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) who is hoping to talk Marlowe into driving him the Mexican border where he plans to cross into Tijuana. Marlowe agrees, and drops him off. On his way home, Marlowe is snagged by a pair of cops who tell him that Lennox recently murdered his wealthy wife, Sylvia. When Marlowe won't sing, they toss him into jail for a few nights but release him when they learn that Lennox killed himself south of the border. While the cops and the press consider the case closed, Marlowe does not.

    Out of jail, Marlowe is approached by Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt) who hires him to find out what happened to her husband, Roger (Sterling Hayden), a hard drinking writer who went missing a few days back. He takes the case, hitting some rehab clinics in hopes of finding him. When he eventually does, he learns that Roger and his wife were quite friendly with Terry and Sylvia Lennox. The more he looks into this, the stranger things get, with Marlowe running afoul of a mobster named Marty Augustine (Mark Rydell) with connections to the case. After Marlowe heads to Mexico to find what he can find, he and Eileen become closer until her behavior becomes increasingly strange and she splits town…

    Set to a great soundtrack by John Williams and Johnny Mercer and beautifully shot by master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, The Long Goodbye is a rock solid thriller with some effective moments of dark humor and strong production values evident throughout. Altman paces the film, which clocks in at eight minutes short of the two hour mark, quite effectively, and does a nice job of building the mystery early enough to keep us wanting to know how this is all going to sort out as the story unfolds. The visuals are always strong, plenty of clever angles do a great job of exploiting the widescreen frame to create tension and atmosphere and to show off some of the interesting locations where the film was shot.

    Front and center in all of this is Elliott Gould. His take on Marlow isn’t necessarily what you’d expect, but it’s very good. He fits the character quite well, making the character his own and delivering a memorable turn as the famous private eye. The supporting work is strong here as well, with Nina van Pallandt creating an interesting foil and Mark Rydell and especially Sterling Hayden doing a great job in their respective supporting roles. And keep your eye out for a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in a small role towards the end of the movie.

    The Long Goodbye – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino Brings The Long Goodbye to Region A Blu-ray taken from a “Brand New 4K Master” framed at 2.39.1 widescreen. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer uses up 36.8GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Some scenes look perfect, other scenes look extremely dark and exhibit some obvious crush, eating up detail in a lot of the darker, indoor night scenes. That issue aside, the transfer is otherwise very good. Colors look nice, skin tones look good and in the lighter scenes, detail is excellent. There aren’t any real compression artifacts here and the image is clean, showing virtually no print damage or dirt but retaining the expected amount of natural film grain. There aren’t any noticeable issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement – where the crush not an issue, this would score very high marks indeed, but there’s no getting around the fact that it is definitely there.

    The only audio option on the disc for the feature is an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles offered up in English only. No problems to note here, the film sounds quite strong. Dialogue is always easy to understand and follow and the score sounds good. Some scenes are intentionally noisy, incorporating background noise in a busy city sequence into the sound design for example, but overall there are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced throughout.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by Tim Lucas that covers all the ground you’d expect it to and then some. Lots of detail here about Chandler’s original text, Altman’s career and history, the studio’s involvement in the production, shooting locations, Gould’s performance, the themes that the film explores, the strength of the visuals, the score, deviations from the source material and lots, lots more.

    The rest of the extra features are archival, starting with the twenty-five minute Rip Van Marlowe featurette with Robert Altman and Elliott Gould. They cover the origins of the film, putting the project together, directing the film and Gould’s unique approach to the film’s lead character.

    Vilmos Zsigmond Flashes The Long Goodbye is a fifteen minute featurette where the films’ cinematographer talks about moving to Hollywood after growing up in Hungary, connecting with Robert Altman and what their working relationship is like and some of the techniques that were employed to give The Long Goodbye its distinct visual look.

    David Thompson On Robert Altman is a twenty-two minute featurette where one of the creators of the Altman On Altman and Robert Altman In England documentaries goes over the details of Altman's life and times, discussing his importance to American cinema and some of his stand out pictures.

    The fifteen minute Tom Williams On Raymond Chandler featurette sees the Chandler biographer give us an overview of the author's career and an examination of Altman's adaptation of one of his most influential stories.

    Maxim Jakubowski On Hard-Boiled Fiction is a fifteen minute piece that allows writer Jakubowski to give us what is essentially a crash course in the history of the hard-boiled detective novel and the films that it inspired.

    Also included on the disc is an article from a 1973 issue of American Cinematographer that goes over the work that Zsigmond did on the film, the use of flashing to create specific visuals. Rounding out the extras on the disc is a Trailers From Hell entry with Josh Olson, a few radio spots, some TV spots, two theatrical trailers, menus and chapter selection. Kino packages this release with a slipcover and some reversible cover sleeve art.

    The Long Goodbye - The Final Word:

    The Long Goodbye is a legitimately great movie, a tense thriller with some moments of effective humor, great production values and a very strong cast. Kino’s Blu-ray is stacked with extras, the Lucas commentary standing out as very good, though the transfer isn’t, sadly, as strong as it should have been despite offering an upgrade in certain areas.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized The Long Goodbye Blu-ray screen caps!

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