Crimezine says hello to Michael Connelly and the Long Goodbye

Posted: March 21, 2012 in Crime Writers
Tags: , , , , , ,

Crimezine knows that you are all as obsessed by Raymond Chandler as we are, so there is good news if you live in Los Angeles. Crimezine Favorite Michael Connelly will be attending a movie screening of Robert Altman’s 1973 version of the classic Chandler tale.

The event kicks off March 25 2012 at 2:00 pm, in the main Library, MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles

Actor and star of the Long Goodbye Elliot Gould will also be in attendance for a Q&A session. The screening is part of the Santa Monica Citywide Reads 2012 event.

Crimeziners may be interested to know that this movie became an inspiration and major obsession for Connelly, to the extent that the writer later moved into the very same apartment in Hollywood where the movie was shot. Lincoln Lawyer director Brad Furman also slotted in a homage to the Long Goodbye, Chandler and Conners, into the recent movie but you knew that already didn’t you Crimeziners?


Michael Connelly

  1. Altman’s The Long Goodbye is neither classic Altman nor classic Chandler. It is a failure on all fronts, neither funny, nor an interesting comment on its time, nor an interesting mystery, nor a very good movie.

    • tonybulmer says:

      Strong opinions Keith! Michael Connelly would probably disagree with you on that however. He sites the movie as a major reason why he got into crime fiction. He also says that after he saw the movie, he read everything Chandler did. Both Robert Crais and Michael Connelly have really been pushing Chandler and his influence recent weeks, as part of Santa Monica festival. Crimezine thinks that is a good thing. Thanks for your imput, we value your views and look forward to hearing from you again.
      Tony Bulmer
      Editor Crimezine

    • BN says:

      how can a film that turned someone like me onto raymond chandler and robert altman (and elliott gould, for that matter) be a failure on all fronts?

      The Long Goodbye is a masterpiece!

      • The Long Goodbye is not typical of Chandler’s crime novels, but it may be the cosest he ever came to writing a novel that can stand as a work of literature independent of the hard-boiled, or detective trappings. That observation to the side, I thinlk the fact that you and allegedly Michael Connelly came to the writings of Chandler AFTER viewing this Altman fiasco, speaks more about the quality of Chandler’sa talent than the accidental association of Altman’s film with chandler’s writing. The film opens with Eliot Gould playing coy games with cats that have nothing to do with Chandler’s characterization of Marlowe, nor reveal anything like the wit and language of Marlowe the narrator of the novels. Gould’s character is under developed, immature, and not very witty or clever. Chandler’s Marlowe is always surprising in the way his language reveals his character, and surprises with similes and metaphors never read before in any other American novel, let alone any other detective novel.

        ALtman’s film is muddled, unsurprising except for the confused and mundane revelation of character in the confused and confusing tale.

        Because I dislike this film does not mean I dislike Altman. There are many films of his which I think are grand. There are many that fail because Altman takes chances. Because I think Altman’s The Long Goodbye is a failure, does not mean I think Chandler ever wrote a failure. I happen to think, among a very few readers who I know have spoken out on the matter, that even Chandlfer’s late novel, and late screenplay, bothentitled PLAYBACK, but one tsakes place in America (the novel) and the other takes place mostly in Canada (the screenplay). I believe the novel is much superior to the play, but the play is interesting in its own right.

        Because the Altman film introduced Connelly and BN, among others, to the writing of Chandler, may have influenced these readers into reflecting back on the film some of the reading glory they experienced in their initial exploration of Chandler.

        I guess I was lucky to have discovered Chandler as an inquisitive pre-teen reader, and I continued to read Chandler, both his novels, and later his short fiction, some of it only revealed within the lastthrity years or so in the noble collection, KILLER IN THE RAIN because Chandler abhored the publication of his formative pulp short stories which he used to produce his early novels. But I enjoy reading these early tales which Chandler hobbled together to form his early novels even more than reading his more “pure” short fiction. I enjoy observing how he constructed his novels from his short fiction.

        I enjoy reading everything I have ever discovered by Chandler. I even enjoyed his screenplay for the Alan Ladd script, The Blue Dahlia, which Chandler admits he wrote while mostly drunk.

        In my opinion chandler is the greatest stylist of the Black Mask school. I do not think he wrote the best mysteries. I think The Maltese Falcon, and Red Harvest, both by Dashiell Hammett, are the two greatest detective novels, along with THE GLASS KEY, ALL FOR DIFFERENT REASONS, TO COME OUT OF BLACK MASK. But I think Chandler wrote the best novels to come out of the Black Mask School. I think The Long Goodbye may be the closest Chandler, or any Black Mask contributor, ever came to writing a classic literary novel. I also think that Chandler is the finest writer to have appeared in Black Mask. Hammett’s Maltese Falcon is an iconic work of American literature. Its dialogue is unsurpassed in detective writing. But Marlowe’s narrative voice is a work of genius, too. and Chandler’s use of poetic imagery in his similes and metaphors is unsurpassed in either the popular novel, and perhaps even in the literary novel. Finally, chandler’s physical and psychological description of the American city, specifically Los Angeles, and Hollywood, and of the movie industry, and the wealthy socialite society, and the poseur social scam artists is unsurpassed in the american novel, in my reading experience.

        But I stand by my original impression of Altman’s THE LONG GOODBYE: it was a failure as a Chandler film; it was a failure as an altman film; and it was an embarassment as an eliot Gould film. Many years ago, Gould narrated a number of Chandler’s longer short stories. He did an outstanding job in these narrations. and he was rpoud of this work.

        I spent a a or two on Temple Campus speaking with Gould. And later we had a few phone conversations after he returned to the west coast. We spoke of Chandler, and he menitoned the audio readings a number of times with pride. He never once mentioned the Altman film, which by the way, I saw when it was originallyt released in the theaters. I remember wondering what Altman and Gould thought they were doing when I watched the first 15 minutes or so of the film with al the business with the cats.

        Chandler was very fond of cats. He was sentimental and wrote with great sadness about the passing of his oriental cat who can be seen on the back cover photo of Chandler with pipe and holding his cat. the Marlowe business with the cats was entirely out of character for Chandler and for Marlowe. And it got the film off to a peeor start in my opinion. Not that the film ever founf a good place to go to, in my opinion.

  2. jimbo says:

    Give us a break grandad chandler is fossilized

    • Chandler is fossilized? Right, just like, Tolstoy, Thoreau, and the Diamond Sutra. Just because literature has been around for some time, or comes from a different mileiu, it doesn’t mean it is “old hat,” outdated, or “fossilized.” Chandler’s writing holds up very well. His language is vivid, and memorable. Although his plots are often murky, they remain memsmerizing, and they hold the attention the way a good melody grabs the mind. I can think of no detective novelist since Chandler who approaches his poetic command of the language. Chandler’s depiction of Los Angeles is unmatched in all the myriad novels that have used those environs as background. And Marlowe, though a romantic, remains an engaging character, and one of the most brilliant narrators in popular fiction.

  3. crimezine says:

    Well put Keith, Crimezine agrees wholeheartedly. I think the far reaching effect that Chandler has had on modern Crime fiction and Mystery writing must also be emphasized, from Elmore Leonard to Robert Crais and beyond. Chandler’s distinctive wit and style has had a ceaseless influence on crime writers throughout the years. And although legend has it that Chandler himself was influenced by the work of Earle Stanley Gardner. It is the adjective Chandleresque we resort to when we are confronted with a particularly perplexing mystery.

    • Chandler specifically mentions Norbert Davis, in particular RED GOOSE, as an influence. He did say he read Gardner, and if memeory serves, typed out one of Gardner’s stories to see what it felt like to “write” it. Chandler was educated in England, and had the closest to a classic education of any Black Mask author. Chandler was a very hard worker (According to Joseph Shaw Chandler tried to justify the typing of his first story sent to Black Mask, “Blackmailers Don;t Shoot.” We can review Candler’s notebooks to see how methodically he collected criminal slang, and memorialized his similes, and metaphors. He took longer on each of his stories than any other contributor we know about. And his stories read as if they were effortless, except for the explosions of brilliant language. His observations were detailed, and revealing, too. In short, Chandler remains the richest of the Black Mask narrators in expression, observation, and general use of language. But Marlowe is such a natural, and surprisingly witty for an ocassional smart-aleck, that the Chandler riches do not distract from the thrill of the reading experience.

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