The Big Sleep

Tagline : The picture they were born for!

Runtime : 114 mins

Genre : Mystery Crime Thriller

Vote Rating : 7.6/10

Budget : 1.6 million $ USD

Revenue : 4.9 million $ USD

Reviews for this movie are available below.

Plot : Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is hired by wealthy General Sternwood regarding a matter involving his youngest daughter Carmen. Before the complex case is over, Marlowe sees murder, blackmail, deception, and what might be love.

Cast Members

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Oh, man, what a movie! Perfect on every sense. Great cast, with terrific Bogart and Bacall. Complex and interesting plot and smart dialogues. Only "funny" thing, if we want to say something, is the "perception" of the women roles in the movie. They are strangely all sexy and attracted to and tempting Philip Marlow.

This continues the incredible run of films Bogie made with now-wife Lauren Bacall. Crackling script ran to perfection by Howard Hawks. Essential, especially for fans of detective thrillers or simply well-made movies.

"General Sternwood" (Charles Waldron) has two daughters and poor old private detective "Philip Marlowe" (Humphrey Bogart) might be forgiven for ever getting involved with a case that sees him employed to investigate a case of blackmail against his youngest - "Carmen" (Martha Vickers). It looks like she is the target of the venal rare book seller "Geiger" but swiftly we realise that that's just the tip of an iceberg that includes not just that blackmail, but another one - with the duplicitous "Joe" (Louis Jean Heydt) and then there's the missing "Regan" which takes him fairly and squarely into the scheming orbit of the other daughter "Vivian" (Lauren Bacall). Soon he's chasing his tail, getting thumped, tied up, shot at - and all whilst he slowly falls for his femme fatale. Who's pulling the strings and why? The story itself isn't the most complex - it's a fairly standard Raymond Chandler adventure. What makes this positively glow are the performances. Bogart and Bacall exude a chemistry that's understatedly provocative. Bacall, especially, uses the less-is-more style with a flash of her eyes or a gesture from her cigarette; Bogart just needs to smile or shrug. It comes alive. The effective use of rain, light, shade and a strong support from Vickers and Bob Steele as crooked henchman "Canino" all help this to create an atmosphere of menace tinged with some dark humour and presented via a strong script. Howard Hawks knows how to let his stars get on with it, and he delivers well with this compelling and superior example of Hollywood at it's very best.

**A film that would be truly memorable if the script wasn't so poorly written.** In general, I really like noir films, it's a style that I like. However, despite the great reputation, I didn't particularly like this film. It's good, and from a style point of view, it gives us everything we like to see in a noir. However, the film fails too much when it comes to the script and the story it intends to tell us. This is not a mistake that I am willing to forgive lightly, especially if we are talking about a production at the highest level and with professionals of the highest caliber, as is the case. In fact, the film is a sight for sore eyes. The black-and-white cinematography is of the utmost elegance, and the lighting was magnificently crafted. The sharpness is excellent, and the filming work gives us some truly well-shot and well-framed scenes. It's very difficult to do better and being more demanding would be unfair, I think. We cannot leave aside the orchestral soundtrack, accompanying each scene with dignity and notably increasing the dramatic charge of some moments. The sets are very well-designed, the costumes are excellent (the highlight, I would say, is Bogart's costume, corresponding to the classic image of the detective in a Fedora hat and trench coat), the cars couldn't be more stylish (I'm suspicious because I'm a huge fan of classic cars from this period) and the props are excellent. However, it is in the performance of the cast that the film shows all its quality: in a cast headed by Humphrey Bogart, there is not a single actor that we feel is too much or has been underutilized. Everyone had their time to shine and show talent, a sign that the director, Howard Hawks, managed the talents he had at his disposal very well. Bogart, as almost always happens, does not disappoint us: he is comfortable with these types of characters and knows well how to interpret them, giving the character a balanced dose of cynical humor, restrained heroism and well-intentioned brutality. Some of the film's most quotable and memorable lines are his. Another great actress we can see here is Martha Vickers. Her role is brief and much of it was cut in post-production, but the actress is hypnotic and sensual like a Lolita. Lauren Bacall, who was Bogart's lover at the time and would later become his wife, is also a strong and impactful presence, but I think I've seen her much better in other works. What's missing here is an equally strong and charismatic villain. Where the film fumbled was really in the script, which presents us with a confusing and disjointed story involving the two spoiled daughters of a very rich retired general. The film treats the story with indecent carelessness, and I had to make a huge effort to understand what was going on. I confess that perhaps it would have been better not to have done it, because it really is a weak and poorly developed story, unacceptable in a work of such quality. I don't know the original material on which the film was based, I just know that it gave rise to other films and adaptations. Be that as it may, I simply cannot accept it and “suck it up”! This simply cannot happen. But anyway, things are what they are, and it's sad to see a film with so much quality have such an unforgivable flaw.

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