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The Big Sleep (1978)

2:15 | Trailer
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.


Michael Winner


Michael Winner (screenplay), Raymond Chandler (novel)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Mitchum ... Philip Marlowe
Sarah Miles ... Charlotte Sternwood
Richard Boone ... Lash Canino
Candy Clark ... Camilla Sternwood
Joan Collins ... Agnes Lozelle
Edward Fox ... Joe Brody
John Mills ... Inspector Carson
James Stewart ... Gen. Sternwood
Oliver Reed ... Eddie Mars
Harry Andrews ... Norris
Colin Blakely ... Harry Jones
Richard Todd ... Cmdr. Barker
Diana Quick ... Mona Grant
James Donald ... Inspector Gregory
John Justin ... Arthur Geiger


Philip Marlowe (Robert Mitchum) is asked by the elderly General Sternwood (James Stewart) to investigate an attempt at blackmail on one of his daughters. He soon finds that the attempt is half-hearted at best, and seems to be more connected with the disappearance of the other daughter's husband, Rusty Regan (David Savile). 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


Some days business is good - and some days it's murder! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Robert Mitchum's interpretation and characterization of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe was much older and more world-weary than the earlier cinematic incarnations of the private eye. See more »


Marlowe retrieved a 6-shot revolved from his car. When he attracted the attention of Lash Canino, he fired 2 shots into the window, but when he emerged from the burning car's smoke, he fired 6 more. Too many. See more »


Philip Marlowe: So many guns lately; so few brains.
See more »


Follows Farewell, My Lovely (1975) See more »


Won't Somebody Dance With Me
Music and Lyrics by Lynsey de Paul
Sung by Diana Quick (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

Winner's take on The Big Sleep
31 July 2008 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Most people would probably run a mile at the thought of Michael Winner getting his hands on the rights to film Raymond Chandler's masterpiece novel 'The Big Sleep'; but personally, I was rather excited at the prospect. Michael Winner may not be a great director; but his films generally turn out to be entertaining in spite of not being brilliant, and with a story as strong as this one; I felt confident that The Big Sleep would be a good film. However, as it turns out; this film is not as good as it could have been. The story focuses on private investigator Philip Marlowe. He is hired by an old man who goes by the name of General Sternwood to investigate a case of blackmail against one of his daughters. After meeting the daughters and some of the other main players involved, our hero soon comes to the conclusion that the blackmail doesn't really constitute a threat and becomes suspicious; leading to him thinking that everything seems to be more connected with the disappearance of the man's son in law, and decides to investigate that instead.

For one reason or another, Michael Winner has decided to move things over to England; although the lead man remains American. This change in location has not really had an effect on the story; but it did leave Winner free to recruit an excellent roster of British stars. Among the names in the cast list are Oliver Reed, John Mills, Joan Collins, Richard Boone and Edward Fox. The film is lead by Robert Mitchum, who while not as great as Humphrey Bogart, still makes an excellent leading man and there's also enough room in the cast for an aging James Stewart. The film is a lot shorter than the earlier version of this story and Winner has really trimmed things down a lot, which means that the story is much more straight forward than it was in the 1946 film. This is not really a bad thing as it does mean that the film is easier to follow; although it also seems less expansive. The characters take something of a backseat too, with only the lead character getting any real development. Still, this is at least an entertaining thriller and I don't feel like I wasted my time watching it; although Howard Hawks' version is better.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

7 April 1978 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Sleep See more »


Box Office


GBP3,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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