Robert Altman and Elliott Gould’s take on Philip Marlowe is back on Blu-ray with a new restoration and extras
The Long Goodbye, director Robert Altman’s modernized-for-the-70s take on the classic pulp detective character Philip Marlowe, has a new Blu-ray edition sporting a brand new 4K master (as well as expanded bonus features).
Distributor Kino Lorber Studio Classics also previously released the film in 2014.
In comparing the two transfers, the differences are readily apparent. The older version looks its age, somewhat faded and in many places snowy with grain and, in lower-light scenes, significant noise.
The newer edition amps up saturation and contrast, rendering a more vibrant picture — but sometimes unnaturally so. Which looks better is a matter of opinion and may change from scene to scene.
The new scan is also a bit sharper, though both are appropriately soft overall, given the film’s vintage.
So let’s get into it.
First up, some comparisons showing how evident the “snowiness” was, versus now. Differences in brightness and contrast are also evident.
How you feel about these next two shots in particular will probably be an effective litmus test for the presentations. The newer transfer is less noisy and the colors have more pop. What does your gut say?
With its enhanced contrast the new transfer can sometimes play as perhaps too dark (or too bright).
In the shot below you can see that the newer transfer has a sunnier appearance (and looks notably sharper), but some of the detail in the brightest areas, such as the waves, has blown out.
That’s not always the case though, in the next shot we now see more detail in the bright window area.
Some more examples of the difference in color (and showing off the strong supporting cast):
I like the newer more vibrant colorization overall, but in fairness here what it looks like at its worst.
Evidence of cleanup is also apparent. Kino has cleared up some of the imperfections in the print.
The framing is also cropped slightly tighter than before. It’s not very evident but these frames show it as well as any (noting where the top and bottom of the image cuts off).
One more with Arnold, just because.
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.