Summoned by the dying General Sternwood, Philip Marlowe is asked to deal with several problems that are troubling his family. Marlowe finds that each problem centers about the disappearance of Sternwood's favoured employee who has left with a mobster's wife. Each of the problems becomes a cover for something else as Marlowe probes. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The second of the Bogey and Bacall pairings has Humphrey Bogart playing his second pulp fiction detective for the screen. Previously he had done Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon and now he's Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep. He's at the top of his game in both.
Bogey's been hired by Philip Waldron to get rid of a blackmailer that's got something on one of his daughters, the amoral and disturbed Martha Vickers. The older daughter Lauren Bacall intrigues Bogey a bit more when she tries to pry into exactly what Bogart is doing for her father. Seems as though a family chauffeur has gone missing a while back and the family is concerned on a number of levels.
The plot glides into the question of the missing chauffeur and Bogart meets all kinds of interesting characters before all the mysteries are solved.
The Big Sleep proved that the teaming on screen of Bogey and Bacall was no flash in the pan success that they had in Two Have and Have Not. They are surrounded with a great cast of players. Dorothy Malone got her first notice on film as a bookstore proprietor. Elisha Cook essays one of his typical roles as a luckless fall guy. John Ridgely is properly menacing as gambler Eddie Mars.
But my favorite in this film has always been Bob Steele as the vicious killer Canino who Ridgely has on retainer. Why Bob Steele wasted his time with two bit grade C westerns when he was doing work like this is beyond me. My favorite scene in The Big Sleep has always been when Bogey blasts Steele after Bacall has diverted his attention. When you hear Bogart utter those words, "over here, Canino" he was never more chilling or menacing on the screen before or after.
Set comfortably within it's time in the Forties, The Big Sleep still packs quite a wallop for today's audience. May you never have Humphrey Bogart looking to nail you for some misdeed.
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