The Long Goodbye is a 1973 neo noir, directed by Robert Altman and based on Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Leigh Brackett, who co-wrote the screenplay for The Big Sleep in 1946. The film stars Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe, and features Sterling Hayden, Nina Van Pallandt, Jim Bouton and Mark Rydell.
The story's time period was updated from 1949/1950 to 1970s Hollywood. The Long Goodbye has been described as "a study of a moral and decent man cast adrift in a selfish, self-obsessed society where lives can be thrown away without a backward glance ... and any notions of friendship and loyalty are meaningless."
Late one night, private investigator Philip Marlowe is visited by his close friend, Terry Lennox, who asks for a lift from Los Angeles to the California–Mexico border at Tijuana. He obliges.
On returning home, Marlowe is met by two police department detectives, who accuse Lennox of having murdered his rich wife, Sylvia. Marlowe refuses to give them any information, so they arrest him. After three days in jail, the police release him, because Lennox committed suicide in Mexico. It is an open-and-shut case to the police and the press, but the "official facts" do not sit right with Marlowe.
In the meantime, Marlowe is hired by Eileen Wade, the platinum-blonde trophy wife of Roger Wade, an alcoholic novelist with writers' block, whose macho, Hemingway-like persona is proving self-destructive. She asks that Marlowe find her husband, who, despite such regular alcoholic binges and days-long disappearances from their Malibu home, now seems to be missing.
In the course of investigating Mrs. Wade's missing-husband case — visiting the sub-culture of "private" detoxification clinics for rich alcoholics and drug addicts — Marlowe learns that the Wades "knew" the Lennoxes socially. He is increasingly convinced that there is more to Terry's suicide and the murder of Sylvia.
Marlowe incurs the wrath of ruthless gangster Marty Augustine, who wants money returned that Lennox owed him. Augustine viciously injures his own mistress just to demonstrate what could happen to Marlowe, saying: "Her, I love. You, I don't even like."
The return of Augustine's money in the nick of time frees Marlowe to take a second trip to Mexico, where he ultimately uncovers the truth of what happened between Terry and Sylvia Lennox.
- Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe
- Nina Van Pallandt as Eileen Wade
- Sterling Hayden as Roger Wade
- Mark Rydell as Marty Augustine
- Henry Gibson as Dr. Verringer
- David Arkin as Harry
- Jim Bouton as Terry Lennox
- Warren Berlinger as Morgan
- Jo Ann Brody as Jo Ann Eggenweiler
- Stephen Coit as Det. Farmer
- Jack Knight as Mabel
- Pepe Callahan as Pepe
- Vincent Palmieri as Vince
- Pancho Córdova as Doctor
- Enrique Lucero as Jefe
- Rutanya Alda as Rutanya Sweet
- Tammy Shaw as dancer
- Jack Riley as Riley
- Ken Sansom as Malibu Colony guard
- Jerry Jones as Det. Green
- John S. Davies as Det. Dayton
- Rodney Moss as supermarket clerk
- Sybil Scotford as real estate lady
- Herb Kerns as Herbie
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Augustine's henchman (uncredited)
- David Carradine as Socrates (uncredited)