Narrative and Masculinity in The Long Goodbye
This paper will look at the subversion of tropes within The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973). Leigh Brackett, a veteran of the Hollywood studio system of the 1940s and 1950s, wrote the screenplay and previously had co-written Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep (1944). Brackett adopted a different approach when working with Altman, maintaining his working practices of over-lapping dialogue and abandonment of traditional three-act structure. Brackett uses this opportunity of the less restrictive production practices of the American New Wave of the 1970s to explore, and deconstruct, the myth of the detective. Throughout the narrative, Brackett populates the film with eccentric characters as Marlowe weaves his way through a labyrinthine plot and in many cases extreme representations of masculinity, evident in the scene where a gangster assaults his girlfriend with a coke bottle. Finally, Brackett presents Marlowe, played by Elliot Gould, as an out-of-time hero that needs updating.