The Long Good-bye of Monte Cristo

Directed by Mel Brooks.

Not really, but I’ve watched several movies lately, and I haven’t blogged about my movie-watching in quite some time (two months). Recently I watched the original production of The Producers, which was slow and stupid in places, like all Mel Brooks movies, but fall-down-laughing hilarious in others, like all Mel Brooks movies. The end was stupid and predictable, but there were enough laughs to make it a worthwhile watch. I wouldn’t buy it, but it’s a solid rental if you’ve never seen it before.

Next up was The Long Goodbye, an adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name. It starred a younger Elliott Gould near the beginning of his career and it seemed to me a lackluster version of the story. The ending is dramatically different from the book and Marlowe wasn’t translated well to the 70’s. He has a cat and, though it seems a minor point, Marlowe never struck me in the books as being the sort of guy who would have a cat. Marlowe’s perpetually stoned, hippie neighbours also don’t seem to serve any purpose in the film other than to provide the director with the opportunity to show the occasional topless woman. But the other point almost as disappointing as the shattered plot was the lack of snappy wise-guy dialogue. Sure, there are brief, weak flashes here and there, such as when Marlowe informs a mobster that he got his $5000 bill out of a cracker-jack box, but for the most part it is mundane and without wit. I wouldn’t suggest anyone ought to bother with the film.

I finally finished Gankutsuou, the Count of Monte Cristo anime adaptation which I had been waiting for since last year. Sadly, it had already gotten extremely strange and had some bizarre twists well before the final few episodes. It turned out that the Count had been willingly possessed by some sort of space-demon/spirit of revenge who offered invulnerability and aid in destroying his enemies in exchange for the eventual consumption of his body and soul. Or something. In return the Count has to renounce all feeling and compassion and be willing to be eventually transformed into a giant crystalline version of himself. Or something. Yeah, I know. Weird. So, what with all that the director or whoever apparently didn’t see that it was any big deal to have some sort of Mexican stand-off with Fernand menacing Haydée and Bertuccio holding a gun to the head of Albert. Of course, this is all after Fernand has shot Albert and Mercédès himself for no reason! Frankly, it started pretty well, but the changes spun farther and farther out of control by the end it all got to be a bit much, really. I was hopeful that this would be a solid adaptation of one of my favourite books, especially since the longer running time (being a full-season television series) would allow for fewer details needing to be dropped, but it ended up disappointing at least as much as all the other versions I’ve seen.

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