A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
The Big Sleep is the story of private investigator Philip Marlowe, who is hired by a wealthy general to find out and stop his youngest daughter Carmen from being blackmailed about her gambling debts. Almost immediately, Marlowe finds himself deep within a web of love triangles, blackmail, murder, gambling, and organized crime. With the help of the General's eldest daughter Vivian, Marlowe skillfully plots to free the family from this web and trap Eddie, the main man behind much of this mischief, to meet his end at the hands of his own henchmen.Written by
In the public library, a close-up reveals Marlowe is copying information out of a book opened to new chapter, with a large margin at top and a chapter heading in bold face type. In the long shot a second later, the book is opened to random page of dense text. See more »
Let me do the talking, angel. I don't know yet what I'm going to tell them. It'll be pretty close to the truth.
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Each credit is swept away with a cloud of cigarette smoke, and new credits appear. See more »
The earlier version includes a different (cleaner) version of the "racetrack" banter between Bogie and Becall, a different version of the scene where Bogie meets Eddie Mars' wife (with a different actress), and a plot-summarizing conversation between Bogie and the D.A. that, while a little hokey, certainly makes the film easier to follow for the first-time viewer. Overall, however, the later version is the better version. See more »
Even hardened film noir and Humphrey Bogart fans admit that this is one confusing movie. It makes sense, but it is edited down to such essentials, and it barrels along with the intensity of a bullet in a smoky canyon using overlapping dialog e and a shower of names, half of whom end up dead, it's really an impossible job for a mortal viewer.
And that's where it's aura, and magic, and legend, lie. It's a great film, and if it's flawed by its excessive velocity, it's defined by it, too. Enjoy Bogart as such, and Lauren Bacall for her sporadic appearances, and for Elisha Cook Jr. for a brief, wonderful splash. All the side characters, even the ones who are clearly only characters, are dripping with criminal drama. The photography is dark but never obscure, the action is fast but never unreasonable, and the lines are classic noir.
In fact, the dialog, if you are paying attention, is one of the gems of 1940s movies--really witty and cutting, and cunning. The movie is brilliant top to bottom, if only you could keep track of what was going on.
Suggestions: Read the plot in the Wikipedia entry before you watch the movie a second time. (The first time, just dive and and get lost. It's too much fun to care, if you can let go.) Watch Bogart's delivery, his physical presence, his wherewithal. Listen to Bacall sing (pretty darned good). Watch the amazing light and camera work (Sydney Hickox) with it's constantly moving perspective and layers of action. Follow the score (Max Steiner) which is appropriately restrained, turning just slightly when Bogart and Bacall are in scenes together.
Howard Hawks pulls of a quirky masterpiece here. You get to the end and frankly don't care too much, perhaps, about the outcome, about who survives and what their futures might hold. But that's fine, too. It might just make you want to watch it again. Good filmmaking does that.
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