The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, adapted by Bill Morrison

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BBC Radio 7, 25 October 2008

The final instalment in the Ed Bishop/John Tydeman collaboration from the late 70s found Marlowe in Southern California once again, an older yet hardly wiser man. Still down on his luck, he was at the beck and call of corrupt women, rich men, and hoodlums who insulted his profession by calling him ‘cheapie.’ The fact that this insult was actually true did nothing for Marlowe’s fundamental cynicism. The Long Goodbye contained many statements which had been hinted at in previous Chandler adaptations but never overtly expressed. DI Ohls (Harry Towb) observed rather bitterly that “money makes people venal,” while Marlowe himself pointed out that the anti-hero Terry Lennox (Peter Marinker) – who provides the mainspring for The Long Goodbye’s complicated plot – is “a nice guy but a moral defeatist.” But perhaps this is the only solution for people forced to live in a world where moral standards no longer exist, where money talks, and where everyone (and everything) has their price. It is this belief that inspires the women (Toby Robins, Margaret Robertson) to offer considerable sums to Marlowe in return for his ‘services,’ both professional and sexual. Marlowe rejects them, but finds himself unable to shake off the police who – as in other adaptations – are as corrupt as the so-called rogues Marlowe seeks to exposed. Money talks in a world where (as Marlowe observes) “no one can say goodbye to cops.” The Long Goodbye is perhaps the most nihilistic of Chandler’s works, as if the author himself understood once and for all that his hero could never change anything, despite his fundamentally good nature and his dedication to solving cases. Perhaps detectives were no longer needed: everyone should be left instead to their own devices.