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The Big Sleep (1946)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery  |  31 August 1946 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 57,622 users  
Reviews: 230 user | 122 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.

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(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Big Sleep (1946)

The Big Sleep (1946) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

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

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 {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 August 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le grand sommeil  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the film that began the long relationship between Howard Hawks and writer Leigh Brackett until his death in 1977. (Initially he assumed she was a man.) Hawks hired her after reading a story that she wrote entitled "No Good for a Corpse". However, when she was hired, she only finished half of another story that she wrote titled "Lorelei of the Red Mist". Her friend Ray Bradbury finished the last half. See more »

Goofs

When the station wagon pulls out of the alley behind Giegers book store, the crates extend past the car body and are on the tail gate. When the station wagon pulls up to the Randall Arms and pulls into the alley, the crates are now fully inside the body of the car. See more »

Quotes

Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

You Go to My Head
(uncredited)
Written by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots
[Played when Marlowe and Vivian Regan are having drinks.]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Interesting DVD Release of the Proto-Noir Classic
24 April 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

THE BIG SLEEP has a reputation for being a film that gets lost in its own complexity and which fails to clearly identify all the perpetrators of all the murders that litter its scenes. There is a certain truth to this: like the Raymond Chandler novel on which it is based, the plot is extremely complicated, and it requires the viewer to mentally track an unexpected number of characters--including two characters that never appear on screen, a pivotal character who doesn't actually have any lines, and a character who is frequently mentioned but doesn't appear until near the film's conclusion. There is not, however, as much truth to the accusation that the film never exposes all the killers: only one killer is not specifically identified, but even so his identity is very clearly implied.

All this having been said, THE BIG SLEEP is one helluva movie. In general, the story concerns the wealthy Sternwood family, which consists of an aging father and two "pretty and pretty wild" daughters--one of whom, Carmen, is being victimized by a blackmailer. P.I. Philip Marlowe is hired to get rid of the blackmailer, but an unexpected murder complicates matters... and touches off a series of killings by a number of parties who have covert interests in the Sternwood family.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the film is that you don't actually have to pick apart the complicated story in order to enjoy it. The script is famous for its witty lines and sleek sexual innuendo--much of it lifted directly from Chandler's novel--and the cast is a dream come true. Philip Marlowe would be played by a great many actors, but none of them ever bested Humphrey Bogart, who splendidly captures the feel of Chandler's original creation; with the role of Vivien Sternwood Lauren Bacall gives what might be the finest performance of her screen career; and the chemistry between the two is everything you've ever heard. The supporting cast is superlative, all the way from Martha Vickers' neurotic turn as Carmen Sternwood to Bob Steele's purring hit-man Canino. There's simply not a false note to be found any where. Although the film really pre-dates the film noir movement the entire look of THE BIG SLEEP anticipates noir to a remarkable degree--it would be tremendously influential--and director Hawks gives everything a sharp edge from start to finish.

Two versions of THE BIG SLEEP are included on the DVD: the film as it was originally shot and the film as it was released to theatres in 1946. The actual differences between the two are fairly slight, but they prove significant. Although the original version is somewhat easier to follow in terms of story, it lacks the flash that makes the theatrical version such a memorable experience; it is easy to see why Hawks elected to rescript and reshoot several key scenes as well as add new ones, and both newcomers and old fans will have fun comparing the two. The DVD also includes an enjoyable documentary on the differences between the films and the motivations behind them.

I don't usually comment on picture quality unless there is a glaring issue, but several reviewers have noted portions of this print have a flicker or seem a bit washed out. I noticed these problems, but I can't say that they in any way distracted from my enjoyment of the film, and they certainly don't prevent me from recommending it--be it on the big screen, television, video or this DVD. And I recommend it very, very strongly indeed.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


62 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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