The Big Sleep
Dir. Howard Hawks
USA 1946 | Black & white | 114 mins | Cert PG | Film Noir
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers
At once a compellingly complex thriller, a sexy, stylish romance, and a teasing commentary on genre conventions, Hawks’ classic adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel is one of the most richly entertaining films noirs ever made.
Humphrey Bogart is in his element as private eye Marlowe, hired by General Sternwood to sort out the mess of his daughter Carmen’s life; the trouble is, no one – not even Vivian (Lauren Bacall), the girl’s older sister – seems particularly happy to help with his investigations. As scripted by the dream team of William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, Marlowe’s attempts to unravel a deadly web of deceit and corruption make for a racy mystery whose precise details are at times famously tricky to follow; no matter, however, when the film offers such a subtly persuasive account of the way the relationship between Marlowe and Vivian develops as the bodycount mounts. No wonder the Coens ransacked it for one of their best films; it’s as seductively quick-witted and genuinely sophisticated as Hollywood ever got.
– Geoff Andrew
Available on: 35mm
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