“While Altman’s description of the detective and his generic milieu as it evolved by the early 1970s works up to a point, the idea that his film closes a genre fails under examination. Such a position misjudges the primary pleasure derived from the American detective film, and misinterprets the satisfaction The Long Goodbye’s ending provides when set within this pleasure and these films.”
“Putting aside whatever doubts the FBI had about its image in these films, the two films represent one of the many fascinating permutations of the gangster film in the studio era, with the heroic FBI agent acting in a manner befitting an upstanding American, yet able to shift gears and punch out a gangster.”
Note: The humble program note has a long and noble history. Sometimes anonymous, sometimes not, cheered as often as they were reviled, these brief, ephemeral, often illuminating handouts, likely destined for the dustbin the same night they appeared, offer “wisdom in a nutshell,” as one of Ivy Compton-Burnett’s characters aptly put it. This article is the second in Bright Lights’ series of vintage program notes from those heady days of the 1970s when unstoppable auteurists started their own cine clubs and commandeered movie theaters to bring their idea of cine-culture to audiences. Our late friend Roger McNiven continues the series with fascinating write-ups of two more works on the subject of “women larger than life,” in this case Bette Davis in King Vidor’s woefully underrated Beyond the Forest and Barbara Stanwyck in Gerd Oswald’s undeservedly obscure Crime of Passion. This double feature was screened at the legendary Thalia Theatre in New York City on Monday, December 3, 1979. We have added images but not edited the text, deferring to the time and spirit in which it was written.