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The Big Sleep (1978)

Set in England, rather than California, the story follows Raymond Chandler's book fairly closely otherwise. Philip Marlowe is asked by the elderly (and near death) General Sternwood to ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Commander Barker
Inspector Gregory


Set in England, rather than California, the story follows Raymond Chandler's book fairly closely otherwise. Philip Marlowe is asked by the elderly (and near death) General Sternwood to investigate an attempt at blackmail on one of his daughters. He soon finds that the attempt is half hearted at best and seems to be more connected with the disappearance of the other daughter's husband, Rusty Regan. Rusty's wife, seems unconcerned with his disappearance, further complicating the mystery. Only General Sternwood seems concerned as mobsters and hired killers continue to appear in the path of the investigation. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Some days business is good - and some days it's murder! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 April 1978 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Tote schlafen besser  »

Box Office


£3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Richard Boone broke his foot before filming began. His injury was incorporated into the story. See more »


When Marlowe brings Camilla home from Geiger's house, the shot from the car to the Sternwood's door shows Marlowe's car door open. The reverse shot from the house out to the car shows his car door shut. See more »


Charlotte Sternwood: [when Marlowe declines to blackmail her] Wha-? You don't want money?
Philip Marlowe: Oh sure. All I itch for is money. I'm so greedy that for fifty pounds a day plus expenses on the day I work, I risk my future, the hatred of the cops, of Eddie Mars and his pals, I dodge bullets and put up with slaps and say "Thank you very much. If you have any further trouble please call me: I'll just put my card here on the table." I do all that for a few pounds. And maybe just a little bit to protect what little pride a ...
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Follows Farewell, My Lovely (1975) See more »


Won't Somebody Dance With Me
Music & Lyrics Lynsey de Paul
Sung by Diana Quick
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

I know you'll say it's a blasphemy, but...
17 August 1999 | by (Spain) – See all my reviews

...I've enjoyed this movie better than the 1946 Howard Hawks version.

Before starting to bash me let me explain why:

1) The 1978 movie is much more entertaining than the 1946 one, where you couldn't realize wha'the hell was happening there, and finally you got bored (At least I did). But now you have got a plot that you can follow.

2) The characters. In the 1946 version everything was so "cold" that you never managed to care about any of the characters. If we were supposed to "connect" with Marlowe-Bogart, I didn't. Why? Because in that version he's more a proto-James Bond (that makes girls instantly fall for him -you only have to remember the Acme Book Shop scene or the Girl Taxi Driver one- while the spectators don't know really why, as he isn't the most handsome man in the world, and he doesn't even say anything to the chicks that make them like him so much, but he only mumbles cynical phrases all the time) than a film noir private dick (he played perfectly a different kind of private eye in the far superior THE MALTESE FALCON). Marlowe-Mitchum, however, is a cent-per-cent detective who only makes his job the best he can, and when we see a girl falling for him, we'll finally know the reason (the younger Sternwood girl "falls for him" because of the same reason she did in the earlier version, and the older Sternwood sister,... well, we'll know at the ending). I could more easily feel identified with Mitchum than with Bogart. And about the other characters: General Sternwood was almost uninsensitive in the 1946 movie while James Stewart as Sternwood now is a warm character that feels lonely. You feel more sorry for poor Harry Jones in this version than in Hawks'. The bad guys are scarier, specially Richard Boone as Canino. And the older daughter of Sternwood has a reason for her behavior.

3) The whole concept. If you're a Raymond Chandler fan, this one is the version to see. Here you'll find the "real" Philip Marlowe the way Chandler wanted him to be (althought a little too aged, but that's not problem for me). And you'll have a detective plot here. The 1946 movie, however, took Chandler's great novel, modified it and turned it to a love-innuendo-between-the-two-main-characters story, as a mere excuse to show on screen the "chemistry" that Bogey and Lauren Bacall had. And that's the most important thing: see Bogart and Bacall saying brilliantly cynical quotes that had nothing to do with the novel (as the famous dialogue about horses), or modifying the ones in the novel (which are equally brilliant and we can find them in this 1978 version). But nobody cared about the plot. And I don't mind that old "Who killed the driver" problem, it isn't even explained in the novel, but the whole intrigue. About Bogey and Bacall, they were a wonderful couple, and I recommend seeing them in DARK PASSAGE, a great film-noir movie who will never bore you. But The Big Sleep wasn't their best day, at least for me.

4) The ending. It makes much more sense than the one in the 1946 version (Obviously, I won't spoil it here).

But there aren't only good points: I would have enjoyed this movie more if it took part in LA in the 1940s instead of in London in 1978. But I don't really care, as did the other person who posted a comment here. Every place or country is good to be the scene of a good film noir plot. And, of course, after all, Michael Winner is not Howard Hawks, and some scenes in this version aren't so well filmed as in the earlier movie (i.e. Harry Jones' death), but even that way I prefer this one.

Just my opinion. What I will never do is saying that something is good just because lots of people say it.

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