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The Big Sleep (1978)

Grizzled American private detective in England investigates a complicated case of blackmail turned murder involving a rich but honest elderly general, his two loose socialite daughters, a pornographer and a gangster.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

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Commander Barker
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Inspector Gregory
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Storyline

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 halfhearted 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

Taglines:

Meet Philip Marlowe, the toughest private eye whoever wore a trench coat, slapped a dame, and split his knuckles on a jawbone. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

7 April 1978 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Tote schlafen besser  »

Box Office

Budget:

£3,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Oliver Reed told an interviewer he only accepted the minor supporting role of Eddie Mars in order to work with Robert Mitchum. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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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Soundtracks

Won't Somebody Dance With Me
Music & Lyrics Lynsey de Paul
Sung by Diana Quick
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It's not the 1946 original but a lot of fun nonetheless
6 March 2011 | by (Vancouver, BC) – See all my reviews

While I haven't read the novel upon which 'The Big Sleep' is based, I have seen the Bogart version. I really love the original. Bogie-Bacall

  • what's not to love? However, that version does suffer from Hays Code


puritanism that robbed the edge from much of human desires and sexual foibles that obviously suppressed some of the underlying desires and sexual motives.

That's where the 1978 version excels - and fails. Let's start with the fails. In the original, the scenes in the bookshops near the beginning rule with Bogie's use of humour and the electric suggested tryst with Dorothy Malone's character. Sometimes the suggestion can be erotic enough. Perhaps that's why this version skips the fun and the implied sex for another more mundane approach.

The other fail is the atmosphere. This version lacks any. The original's shadows and textures evoked each scene and created moods. This version lacks any specific mood to instead tell a story in almost a heightened reality. The direction does the same, relying on straight-ahead narrative more like a TV movie than a theatrical film.

There's so much more here that succeeds. Despite his age, Mitchum is a fine Marlow, more cynical and world-weary than Bogart's version. The script is sharp, full of humour and wry observations. The biggest improvement is the depiction of sex. Freed of the tyranny of the forties' censorship, scenes like Carmen naked and stoned are much more realistic and make a more satisfying treatment, even if the innuendo is not as predominant.

OK, it's not the classic it could've been. It's still a decent flick to rent or watch on cable. Marlowe is solid, Candy Clark is wonderfully loony, Joan Collins is pure kitsch, Richard Boone plays the essence of evil. It's good to see James Stewart, even if his gentle disposition doesn't quite match the demeanour of a General. The supporting cast are almost uniformly intriguing and fun to watch. And what a cast!

The Big Sleep may be no masterpiece but it is great fun. Relax your expectations and enjoy it for what is - fine entertainment.


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