Elliott Gould Wants Steven Soderbergh To Make a ‘Long Goodbye’ Sequel


The Big Picture

  • The film noir genre, particularly The Long Goodbye, captured the essence of post-World War II America and its psychological angst and paranoia.
  • Elliott Gould’s portrayal of Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye showcased his unique blend of suave charm, humor, and poignancy as an actor.
  • Gould has expressed a desire for a sequel to The Long Goodbye, with his ideal director being Steven Soderbergh, who has a knack for subversive genre exercises.

No genre captured American cinema in the 1940s quite like the film noir. The genre, which reflected the underbelly of America in the aftermath of World War II, tapped into a suppressed, psychological angst and paranoia surrounding the disruption of an idyllic Americana. The bewildered private eye, the sinister femme fatale, and the smoky and shadow-filled atmospheres are a handful of the most indelible traits of the genre that filmmakers, including New Hollywood maverick Robert Altman, continue to comment on decades following its boom in the ’40s and ’50s. Altman’s revisionist film noir, The Long Goodbye, is one of the director’s finest achievements. Its star, Elliott Gould, has envisioned a sequel to carry on the legacy of the film for a new generation. His endorsement for director? None other than Steven Soderbergh.

The Long Goodbye

Release Date
March 8, 1973

Robert Altman

Elliott Gould, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, David Arkin

112 minutes

Drama, Comedy, Crime

Elliott Gould’s Stardom in the 1970s Reached Its Peak With ‘The Long Goodbye’

Elliott Gould, a reliable character actor in his later years, was a full-fledged movie star in his heyday in the 1970s. Surprisingly so for younger generations, Gould was part of the prestigious “Five-Timers Club” among hosts of Saturday Night Live. Only in the ’70s could Gould, with his uncharacteristically handsome appearance and hippie-like manner of speech and attitude, be a perennial star. Gracing the cover of Time magazine in 1970 and crowned as a “star for an uptight age,” he balanced his suave and keen sense of humor with an aura of poignancy. This unique concoction supplemented his work in dramedies of the era that featured acidic humor with a cynical worldview, notably his Oscar-nominated performance in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and his first collaboration with Robert Altman, M*A*S*H.

The apex of Gould’s traits and abilities as an actor were crystallized in The Long Goodbye, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler‘s 1953 novel of the same name. The story follows Philip Marlowe (Gould), Chandler’s signature character, a private eye unknowingly entangled in a string of convoluted plots involving the murder of his friend, Terry Lennox’s (Jim Bouton) wife, Terry’s debt to a mobster, and a relationship with a dispirited, Ernest Hemingway-inspired novelist, Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden). Viewers who find themselves baffled by the cohesiveness and comprehension of the plot are excused. Like the great noirs that preceded The Long Goodbye, notably another adaptation of a Philip Marlowe story, Howard Hawks‘s The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart, the film is about vibes and an immersive atmosphere. Additionally, Altman’s take on Marlowe is substantially aimless, signifying the director’s commentary on Los Angeles as a wasteland riddled with the selfish interests of powerful authorities.

Elliott Gould Asked Steven Soderbergh To Do a ‘The Long Goodbye’ Sequel

Gould’s fondness towards The Long Goodbye lingered with him through 2019 when the actor participated in a Q&A following the film’s screening at Beyond Fest, a genre film festival in Los Angeles. When discussing his collaborations with revered filmmakers such as Altman and Ingmar Bergman, Gould revealed that his endorsement for the director of a potential sequel to The Long Goodbye would be Steven Soderbergh. “I left a text message…for Steven Soderbergh, who’s done quite a bit of work with me, to say, ‘Let’s talk about the sequel to The Long Goodbye, if you’re so inclined,’” Gould recounted at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. He previously starred in Soderbergh’s prescient pandemic thriller Contagion and played Reuben Tishkoff in each installment of the Ocean’s trilogy. The director’s response, if any was made, has not been made public, and there is no official report of a sequel to the 1973 Altman film. While being interviewed by the New Beverly Cinema in 2019, Gould revealed an interest in adapting Chandler’s short story, “The Curtain,” claiming that he once held the rights to the book from the author’s estate.

Gould expressed at the Q&A that he is still holding out hope for a potential future partnership with Soderbergh. Furthermore, Gould told a story of when Soderbergh approached him on the set of Ocean’s Eleven and asked if Marlowe smearing ink on his face while being interrogated by the police in The Long Goodbye was improvised (it was). This presumably left a mark on Gould, as Soderbergh’s passion for the film was fervid. For 85-year-old Gould, time is of the essence. A new take on Marlowe would likely be forced to grapple with aging. In recent years, the actor is best known for his 22-episode contribution to Friends, where he played Jack Geller, the father of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica (Courteney Cox). He has become a mainstay on television over the last decade with a recurring role in Ray Donovan, and appearing as a one-off in Grace and Frankie and The Kominsky Method.

There is a cyclical quality to The Long Goodbye. The film’s conclusion, which shows Marlowe strolling jauntily down the street after fatally shooting Terry Lennox, signals that the private eye ultimately accomplished nothing, and is destined to be burdened by another investigation that goes over his head. A continuation of this melancholic story would appear to be overstated. However, the prospect of a Long Goodbye sequel is aided by the potential involvement of Soderbergh, who is perfectly suited to honor Altman’s direction and Chandler’s text while simultaneously inserting his usual idiosyncratic spin on the Marlowe character. Soderbergh is a famously mercurial figure in Hollywood. He previously retired from filmmaking in 2013 after directing Side Effects, only to return and work at a steadily rapid rate since 2017’s Logan Lucky. The mystique surrounding his career makes the lofty decision to expand upon The Long Goodbye logical in its own right.

Steven Soderbergh and Elliott Gould Would Be Perfect for the Sequel

Image via Warner Bros. 

Gould inquiring about Soderbergh’s interest in directing a Long Goodbye sequel was a proper instinct, as the director has proven to be skilled in subversive genre exercises. The film of his that features the most resemblance to Altman’s film is The Limey, an L.A. noir about a revenge-fueled British ex-con searching for his daughter’s killer. On the surface, The Limey operates at a B-movie quality, but it quietly undercuts the lust for vengeance with a dispirited sense of melancholy over a bygone period in Los Angeles. Soderbergh previously tapped into Chandler-esque pulp crime sagas with his film, The Underneath, with underwhelming results.

Beyond formalism, Soderbergh’s acerbic wit complements the sharp satire at the heart of Altman’s film. As demonstrated in Erin Brockovich, The Informant!, and Magic Mike, Soderbergh has a preference towards protagonists facing an uphill battle against forces with insurmountable influence, including unethical corporations and capitalism at large. From a more populous perspective, his knack for enthusiastically modulating with genre while also indulging in the tropes of a respective genre is paramount, with the Ocean’s trilogy and Out of Sight being the finest examples of this practice.

Setting the general angst surrounding sequels in Hollywood aside, there ought to be a mass demand for a follow-up to The Long Goodbye if Elliott Gould and Steven Soderbergh were to team up. The original Robert Altman film is predicated upon “vibes,” unconcerned about the greater plot machinations. Soderbergh, who specializes in meditative filmmaking with an aesthetically pleasing slickness, was born for this theoretical project. Steven, if you haven’t already, answer Gould’s text and get to work!

The Long Goodbye is available to stream on Pluto TV in the U.S.

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