The Long Goodbye
Nice essay on The Long Goodbye, but I think you're overstating the case a bit in the first paragraph.
Doing a google search on "Top Ten Worst Crime Films" brings up no hits at all. Googling "Worst crime films" only brings up references to To Live and Die in L.A., oddly. Searching on ["top ten worst" "the long goodbye"] doesn't appear to bring up any relevant hits, either, so I'm not sure where all these lists exist, wherein The Long Goodbye is 'regularly lodged'.
In fact, it's been my experience that since this was released on DVD a few years ago, its reputation has grown to the point where it's generally considered to be among Altman's best movies. It's got a "95% Fresh" rating on www.rottentomatoes.com .
I'm sure a lot of Chandler fans hated it when it first came out (I didn't like it the first time I watched it, but loved it the second), but a lot of people did like it. Vincent Canby gave it a rave review in the NYT ("... attempts the impossible and pulls it off. ...It's so good that I don't know where to begin describing it"), and Ebert gave it three stars out of four (and apparently revised his opinion upwards, as well, including it in his "Great Movies" series of essays in 2006).
Still, good essay overall.
noir has a history of the main character being in control by losing control, usually winding up physically harmed. gould pulled that off, and while he's not exactly a "pug of a man" who you wouldn't want to screw with, the man out of time stuff worked, and maybe added some spillane flavor to the film.