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
Although Lauren Bacall shot another film, Confidential Agent (1945), after this one, Warners' decided to release it first, arguing that the later film was more topical and needed to come out during the final days of World War II. They also felt it showcased Bacall more effectively. The film turned out to be a disaster, however. At the urging of her agent, Charles Feldman, Hawks and the studio built up her part in The Big Sleep and re-shot a scene in which she wore an unflattering veil. The original version was only shown to U.S. soldiers stationed overseas. See more »
During Marlowe's initial introduction to Vivian, she pours herself a glass of a clear-colored liquid from bar which turns into a dark liquid half-way through scene. See more »
During the opening credits, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are seen in silhouette, placing cigarettes in an ashtray. At the end, two cigarettes are in an ashtray. See more »
The pre-release (1945) version, released in 1997, was extensively re-cut to produce the 1946 version, eliminating all the scenes that included Pat Clark, who played Mona Mars in the original. She was replaced by Peggy Knudsen for the scene near the end in the house at the back of Art Huck's garage, because Ms. Clark wasn't available. 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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