For its second tribute to film noir, Return to Noirville, Cinema 21 celebrates the genre's apex with eight classics, but it also hops a few decades forward with a trio of neo-noirs. Top among these is The Long Goodbye, Robert Altman's 1973 take on Raymond Chandler. Here, the inimitable, chain-smoking private eye Philip Marlowe lands himself in '70s Hollywood, where he's as out of touch with the amoral gangsters as he is with his hippy-dippy, candle-making, flower-power, perma-high neighbors. ("They're doing yoga," Marlowe says, as another man gawks at the topless contortionists. "I don't know what it is.") Gone is the romantic masculinity Humphrey Bogart brought to the role in The Big Sleep, replaced here by Elliott Gould's mildly paranoid shabbiness. But Gould makes his loping gait and doleful eyes work, and his Marlowe is as incorruptible as ever as he investigates a suspicious murder-suicide. But the plot is less important than the characters' charged interactions, and Altman fills his stable with quack doctors, venal henchmen and the aristocratic Nina van Pallandt as a tan-in-a-can millionairess. In a way, The Long Goodbye bids farewell to the institution of the private eye—it's a sendoff not triumphant but melancholic, remorseful yet droll.
- Showing at: Cinema 21. Full showtimes below.
- Best paired with: Breakside Pilsner.
- Also showing: Aliens (Hollywood Theatre).