The endof The Long Goodbye is highlysignificant when discussing New Hollywood, as the character of Marlowe shootshis friend coldly and unflinchingly – the fact detectives in ClassicalHollywood narratives could not do this is a convention of Hollywood moralitythat Altman cannot abide, as he senses the weakness and falseness of it.
Althoughthe ending is highly diffuse and multivalent, it is an unusually definitive onefor Altman. In Chandler’s novel The LongGoodbye, which the film is adapted from, Marlowe does not kill; he acceptsTerry’s having used him with sadness and understanding. Altman cannot accepteither the morally justified murders or the passive acceptance of abuse underthe guise of loyalty. The act of his Marlowe is therefore a response to both, amurder as gratuitous as any shown on the screen and an action of a sleepwalkermomentarily awake.
There is undeniable satisfaction in Marlowe’s act, becauseMarlowe finally does something. He acts rather than being acted on. Yet the actis repulsive. For Altman, the causes of violence are inevitable as well aserratic and unpredictable.
Altman is one of the few American directors whoexamines the results of the violent act, which more often than not onlyreaffirms the state that existed previous to it. The act of violence altersnothing. Scorsese may see violence only appearing and disappearing, neitherexplained nor explicable, or, if explained, always something more than theexplanation. After Marlowe kills Terry he is still a jerk, and stillunconnected from the world.
This lack of change, lack of motivation andunsatisfying ending (although it is an ending) are all conventional of NewHollywood cinema.In conclusion, both Taxi Driver and TheLong Goodbye rebelled against the practices of traditional Hollywood infavour of a different, more progressive, and more artistic style of filmmaking.In regards to both the cinematic and narrativeaspects of the film, they broke away from their predecessors and had a hugerole in creating a new language of American cinema.