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The Big Sleep (1946)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 31 August 1946 (USA)
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Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director:

Howard Hawks

Writers:

William Faulkner (screen play), Leigh Brackett (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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4,326 ( 300)
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Philip Marlowe
Lauren Bacall ... Vivian Rutledge
John Ridgely ... Eddie Mars
Martha Vickers ... Carmen Sternwood
Dorothy Malone ... Acme Book Shop Proprietress
Peggy Knudsen ... Mona Mars
Regis Toomey ... Chief Inspector Bernie Ohls
Charles Waldron Charles Waldron ... General Sternwood
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... Norris - the Butler
Bob Steele ... Lash Canino
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Harry Jones
Louis Jean Heydt ... Joe Brody
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Storyline

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 Alec

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Warner Bros. Dramatic Triumph! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 August 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Al borde del abismo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$6,540,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,682,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Coldcut's remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full" included a sample of Humphrey Bogart saying, "Now wait a minute, you better talk to my mother." See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Philip Marlowe: 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Each credit is swept away with a cloud of cigarette smoke, and new credits appear. See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »


Soundtracks

The Blue Room
(uncredited)
Music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Played when Vivian Rutledge pays off Marlowe over drinks
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Lots of murders never looked and sounded to good
23 March 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Big Sleep (1946)

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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