This review contains spoilers about the book and the film.
One of the most unique neo-noirs of the seventies, The Long Goodbye displays both the advantages and pitfalls of free-association adaptation. Both critics and defenders of the film tend to miss the point. Goodbye boosters point to Altman's rich invention and thought-provoking subversion of genre tropes, but tend to take for granted the conventionality of the source - Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. Marlowe had become in '73 and remains today a cultural icon as the prototypical private eye thanks to Chandler's series of detective stories and novels spanning the thirties and forties and (especially pertinent here) the films based on this material. Meanwhile, the film's critics notice what Gould's and Altman's Marlowe is missing but don't seem to appreciate what is added to, or even improved upon, from the book. The latter group have become more obsolete these days, as the distance from Chandler's era increases and the movie becomes more and more a part of the cinematic firmament it once seemed to subvert - a fixture rather than an outlier. In the mean time, I sense, less and less people commenting on the film have actually read the book it's based on, or realize how much the film's sense of subversion, disappointment, and distance shares with the novel itself - and what the film misses in some of its broader departures.