The Big Sleep (1946)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery  |  31 August 1946 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 61,298 users  
Reviews: 239 user | 126 critic

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

1 win. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
Key Largo (1948)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A man visits his old friend's hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall
Adventure | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

During WWII, American expatriate Harry Morgan helps transport a Free French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sexy lounge singer.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Touch of Evil (1958)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh
Dark Passage (1947)
Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A man convicted of murdering his wife escapes from prison and works with a woman to try and prove his innocence.

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett
Notorious (1946)
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In Africa during WWI, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley
Laura (1944)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

Directors: Charles Laughton, Robert Mitchum, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas


Complete credited cast:
John Ridgely ...
Peggy Knudsen ...
Charles Waldron ...
Charles D. Brown ...
Louis Jean Heydt ...


Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by old General Sternwood to stop a blackmail attempt concerning his youngest daughter Carmen. Marlowe tails the blackmailer Geiger to his house at Laverne Terrace. Suddenly he hears a shot and sees some men rushing out to their cars. He breaks into the house, and finds Carmel drugged in a chair, with Geiger's dead body at her feet. An empty camera proves that a photo has been taken of her and the corpse, probably intended for further blackmailing. A series of clues lead Marlowe to various persons involved in gambling. Wherever he finds them, he also finds Sternwood's oldest daughter, Vivian Rutledge, a divorced beauty. She and Marlowe fall in love with each other, although she continues double-crossing him. When Marlowe's investigations lead him to the casino owner Eddie Mars, the situation starts becoming very dangerous. Everyone, including the district attorney, advises Marlowe to stop the investigation, but he is stubborn. Eddie Mars has a ... Written by Maths Jesperson {}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The type of man she hated . . . was the type she wanted ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 August 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tote schlafen fest  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Final film of Charles Waldron (Gen. Sternwood). He died before the film premiered. However, he appeared in three other 1946 releases that, despite opening earlier in the year than "The Big Sleep," were shot after it. James Stewart recreated the role in the 1978 remake in one of his last roles. Coincidentally, Waldron had played Stewart's father in Navy Blue and Gold (1937). See more »


When Vivian is telling Marlowe the cover story for Carmen for the night before, her mouth does not match what she's saying. This mismatch is because the movie was re-edited after Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall became a popular team; To Have and Have Not which brought them to stardom was released after The Big Sleep was filmed but before it was released. Scenes were re-shot, some new scenes were added and others dropped. The sequence was also changed to accommodate some of the new edits. The audio/visual mismatch is because the scene was kept but minor dialog had to be changed to make the re-sequencing track properly. See more »


Agnes Lowzier: Is Harry there?
Philip Marlowe: Yeah, yeah, he's here.
Agnes Lowzier: Put him on, will you?
Philip Marlowe: He can't talk to you.
Agnes Lowzier: Why?
Philip Marlowe: Because he's dead.
See more »


Spoofed in Mama's Family: The Big Nap (1990) See more »


And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine
Music by Stan Kenton and Charles Lawrence
Lyrics by Joe Greene
Played by a band at the casino and sung by Lauren Bacall and patrons
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Classic Noir
3 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Read all of my reviews at This classic film noir has very few of techniques generally associated with noir. It contains no skewed camera angles; and though it is darkly lit, it is not overcome with murky, obscuring shadows. The hero is not down-and-out, poor, or desperate. There is no retrospective narration, or flashbacks. Yet, the Big Sleep is widely considered to be one of the very best of this genre. It is a cynical, perverse, murderous world filled with loads of confusing action and unknown motives. It is, in fact, one of the great films of one of the screens greatest actors (for my personal top 10 actors list, click here), and most talented directors.

It was directed by Howard Hawks fresh off of the successful pairing of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall in To Have and Have Not. The two star here again and it is easy to see why they made another two films together. Based on a Raymond Chandler novel of the same name, many people complain that this film is incomprehensible. Somewhat famously it is reported that Bogart and Hawks, after arguing over who killed one of the characters, called up Chandler to get the correct answer. Chandler didn't have the slightest idea, for the novel is rather vague on this point. It's true that both the novel and film leave many plot points as to who did what to whom more than unclear, but there is so much style in both that it's hard to make a convincing argument against them.

A good deal of the confusion within the film comes from the production codes in effect at the time it was produced. Chandler's novel deals with murder, homosexuality, heterosexuality, and pornography. At the time, these things were deemed unfit to show on a movie screen and so Hawks had to hint at them using various subtle methods. For instance, when Carmen Sternwood (Martha Vickers) is found by detective Phillip Marlow (Bogart) in the novel she is completely nude and sitting posed for a hidden camera. Since pornography is explicitly against code, in the movie she is dressed in a silky, Japanese gown. There is still a hidden camera, and its missing film becomes a catalyst for much of the action in the film. We must infer from the exotic nature of the gown that there was more than just pictures of a woman in a gown going on. There are many similar instances in the film like this. For an audience member who has not read the book, they must pay close attention to the subtext, or the film will seem baffling.

Personally, I am very much a fan of the book, and all of Chandler's work. While I appreciate that some of the finer plot points are a bit vague in this film, I also understand that the film succeeds not in the details of the story, but in a sinister sense of style. The film oozes with a dark, disquieting atmosphere. Nearly everyone Marlowe meets is hiding something, and is of less than upstanding moral character. Hawks does a great job of keeping nearly every scene in the dark or in the rain, or both. There are so many characters coming in and out of the shadows and with their own shady character that it is difficult to keep up.

Bogart, of course, does a marvelous job as Marlowe. He seems to understand a lot more information than the audience is ever given. Chandler wrote Marlowe as a detective who sticks by his own set up morals, remaining somewhat of a noble creature trying to stay afloat amongst the muck and sewers of the city. Lauren Bacall does a very good job portraying Vivian Sternwood Rutledge, in a role that is much different than the one in the book. Like many films from this era, they create a romance that wasn't really in the source material. I don't mind though, because Bogart and Bacall really sizzle.

What can I say that hasn't been said before? This is really classic noir at its best. It's got Bogart and Bacall. It was directed by Howard Hawks, written by William Faulkner from a novel by Raymond Chandler. What more could a lover of classic cinema want? More reviews at

43 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I Haven't The Slightest Idea What Happened Or Why In This Film Raxivace
Big sleep v Maltese Falcon frank316
Who killed the chaffeur? vwhelan
Another Bogey-Bacall Classic!! shula1010430
Name 6 actors who played Philip Marlowe in theatrical movies??? bklynbernie
Discuss The Big Sleep (1946) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page