The Long Goodbye

Domestic Violence in ‘The Long Goodbye’

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During the late 70s and early 80s, the one place on television I did see a serious and unflinching depiction of domestic violence was when the UHF station (that had a “Creature Double Feature” on Saturday afternoons) showed, on a school night, Robert Altman’s 1973 masterpiece ‘The Long Goodbye’ (now streaming on Netflix) based on the novel by Raymond Chandler (also the author of the book adapted into the Humphrey Bogart/ Lauren Bacall vehicle ‘The Big Sleep’). Unlike the film adaptation of ‘Farewell My Lovely,’ another Chandler novel brought to the screen in the 70s (this time with Robert Mitchum in the lead), ‘Goodbye’ wasn’t a period piece but updated to “Me” generation Los Angeles with a slightly scruffy Elliott Gould (who had previously co-starred in Altman’s ‘M*A*S*H’ as Trapper John) playing Phillip Marlowe, the same private detective character Mitchum played in ‘Lovely’ and whom Bogart made famous. The film also shares the same screenwriter with ‘Sleep,’ Leigh Brackett. In the forties as well as the seventies she was one of the few women whose screenplays were actually produced. Brackett also wrote for the series ‘The Rockford Files’ which has the same smart-ass, 70s sensibility and southern California setting.