The Big Sleep (1946)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery  |  31 August 1946 (USA)
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Reviews: 238 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.



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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


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Release Date:

31 August 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tote schlafen fest  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Raymond Chandler claimed that Martha Vickers gave such an intense performance as Carmen Sternwood that she completely overshadowed Lauren Bacall, and that much of Vickers' performance ended up on the cutting room floor as a result. See more »


When Bogart is in the house with the beaded curtain, the curtain is always completely still even after a very short time of passing through it. The first time Bogart goes into the bedroom and out again, you can see the curtain continue to move for a certain duration. His movements past the curtain should have them moving each time he comes back out of the bedroom because that duration is less than the first time. See more »


Carmen Sternwood: Is he as cute as you are?
Philip Marlowe: Nobody is.
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Featured in Pretty Little Liars: Cat's Cradle (2013) See more »


You Go to My Head
Written by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots
[Played when Marlowe and Vivian Regan are having drinks.]
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User Reviews

Just Ignore That Discombobulated Plot
30 December 2007 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Many fans of this classic film are drawn to it because of Bogie and Bacall, who do indeed make a deft acting duo. Here, Bogie plays Philip Marlowe, the tough talking, street savvy PI, who has his roots in the crime novels of writer Raymond Chandler. Bacall plays Vivian Sternwood, the adult daughter of a wealthy man. Vivian is just as tough and cagey as Marlowe. And she has a younger sister named Carmen, who seems to have fallen in with a bad crowd. It's up to Marlowe to investigate, and to save the Sternwood family from financial ruin. "The Big Sleep" is a story of blackmail, murder, multiple motives, lies, and all manner of general mayhem.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are certainly persuasive in their roles. I also like the script's snappy dialogue. For example, in a conversation with General Sternwood, Marlowe responds: "Hmm". Sternwood follows up: "What does that mean?" To which Marlowe fires back: "It means, hmm". Marvelous.

But the film's plot is an incoherent mess. It is hard to follow, disjointed, and has obvious lapses. Further, secondary characters (Geiger, Brody, Mars,, and their interrelationships, are poorly defined. To some extent that vagueness and lack of precision are fairly common in 1940's pulp detective stories.

The best approach to "The Big Sleep" is to engulf the relationship between Marlowe and Vivian, marvel at the acting of Bogie and Bacall, enjoy the witty dialogue, and ignore the discombobulated plot.

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