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Caution Optional » Blog Archive » “Nothing says goodbye like a bullet”…

…or so says Philip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye. A somewhat cheesy movie based on a Chandler book by the same name, it does have a surprisingly high traffic signal count. And the earliest movie I’ve come across that had a traffic signal used as decoration (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Bewitched don’t count as they were TV series).

But of course this was 1973 so the people with the nice old Mechanical Cop were these out-of-their-minds-on-drugs-hippy girls still recovering from the 60s. And while they didn’t show it in the movie, I can only imagine that there was a pile of dead hippy girls at the bottom of that 40 foot drop from the balcony they kept showing them on (drug use and dancing next to vertigo induced gravity wells doesn’t mix).
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And then there was this kind of bizarre scene which had nothing at all to do with traffic signals, but had California’s current governor stripping naked along with several other men in order to do, uhh, something to Elliot Gould’s character. Synchronicity moment - in the scene immediately prior to the Schwarzenneger appearance, Elliot Gould is screaming at the top of his lungs that he is going to take this investigation all the way to the governor of California. Can’t make this kind of stuff up…
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Towards the end of the movie, Philip Marlowe chases a car through downtown San Francisco. This sounds potentially exciting until you realize that he’s on foot and the car is, well, a car. But this was just a gimmick by the latent signalfan director, Robert Altman, to show the wealth of exposed tube neon ped signals still in use in California in the early seventies.
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And even with the abundance of pedestrian signal advice being flashed at him in bright neon, Mr. Marlowe manages to get himself hit by a car. And while this following photo DOES show the red portion of an Econolite signal, I include it primarily to show how even after chasing down a car on foot and then getting struck by a four thousand pound automobile, he still has a cig hanging jauntily out of the corner of his mouth…
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