289 user 120 critic

The Big Sleep (1946)

Passed | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 31 August 1946 (USA)
1:49 | Trailer
Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a wealthy family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.


Howard Hawks


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





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


P.I. Philip Marlowe's hired by a wealthy general to find out and stop his daughter, Carmen from being blackmailed over gambling debts, Marlowe finds himself deep within a web of love triangles, blackmail, murder, gambling, and organised crime. With help from Vivian (another of the general's daughters), Marlowe hatches a plot to free the family from this web and trap the real culprit. Written by Alec

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Violence-Screen's All-Time Rocker-Shocker! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


"Paid In Full", released in 1987 by Eric B. and Rakim, used the soundbite from the scene when Marlowe and Mrs. Rutledge were in Marlowe's office playing a gag on the phone with the police. The soundbite that the rap duo used was "Now wait a minute, you better talk to my mother." See more »


When Vivian unties Marlowe, she has no shoes. When she gets up, she has shoes. See more »


[making a crank call]
Philip Marlowe: I can do what? Where? Oh no, I wouldn't like that. Neither would my daughter.
[hangs up]
Philip Marlowe: I hope the sergeant never traces that call.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

Because of the differences in the scene where Bogart brings the drugged sister back to the mansion, a subsequent scene where Bacall appears at Bogart's office had some dialogue overdubbed to account for the fact that, in the new version, Bacall met Bogie at the door as he was returning her sister. See more »


Featured in The Twentieth Century: The Movies Learn to Talk (1959) See more »


You Go to My Head
Written by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots
[Played when Marlowe and Vivian Regan are having drinks.]
See more »

User Reviews

The Bogie persona at it's fullest with a twist here and there
18 February 2006 | by policy134See all my reviews

Humphrey Bogart, one of the biggest movie stars of the 20th century was the one and only choice to play Philip Marlowe. The great thing about him was that he didn't seem like your typical heroic figure and that puts him right at home in the seedy environment of film noir where everybody seems kind of crooked, even the police.

Though he played kind of heroic figures there was always a sinister quality to him and this is played out beautifully in this movie where he seems to be most comfortable with the villains rather than the more straight-laced characters.

The plot of The Big Sleep is so complicated that you are often thinking that you are being put on. Names and events are hurled at you every 2 seconds so if you only watch this movie once you will be totally lost. The most complicated character belongs to Lauren Bacall's Vivian. Marlowe is in the dark about her role up until the last 20 minutes or so and therefore it was really unbelievable that the role is played so well by Bacall (this was only her second movie).

The whole movie is quite good but a little bit slow for my taste. If you have seen The Maltese Falcon it was definitely the better of the two. Still, there are those priceless moments when Marlowe goes into the Geiger bookstore and is met with the absolute hilarious line by the clerk: "What do they look like - grapefruits?" The director, Howard Hawks, was certainly an actor's director and he gave some of the best roles to among others, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper and of course Bogie himself. This was as far as I can remember the last time that Bogie and Hawks worked together and I think that anything that they would have done afterwards could not live up to this, so maybe it was a good choice. Hawks would die a very old man and by the the 60's his inspiration had virtually dried out (he made Rio Bravo 3 times).

Had Bogart lived longer he would probably be in spoof after spoof of his undying persona and it's a bit of a disappointment that he was not very successful at playing a different character. The part of Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny" is absolutely terrific and so different from Marlowe. Although, in my opinion he is the essence of 40's movies cynicism, he should have been much more than that.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 289 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook





Release Date:

31 August 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Sleep See more »


Box Office


$250,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed