The Big Sleep (1946)

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      "If film noir is your thing, then The Big Sleep belongs on your 'must see' list, even if its plot is so confusing that you'll likely need to watch it several times to figure out who's doing what to whom.

      Humphrey Bogart stars as Philip Marlowe, a world-weary private detective who isn't picky about whom he works for, as long as he gets paid.  This time his client is General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) a wealthy old invalid who is concerned that one of his two high-living daughters is the target of a blackmail effort.  Carmen Sternwood (Martha Vickers) is a hard drinking party girl who shows her sauciness by coming on to Marlowe at their first meeting.

      Big sister Vivian (Lauren Bacall) is a bit more controlled, but she too likes to have a good time with gamblers and other ne'er do wells.  As Marlowe sets out to discover who is doing the blackmailing, he soon finds that there's a complex web of intrigue that's got Carmen tangled up in some serious trouble.  As he tries to protect his clients, Vivian becomes directly involved, and soon Marlowe finds himself falling for Vivian while he's fighting to protect both women from a seemingly endless array of nasties who come visiting with their guns drawn.

      The Big Sleep shows Bogart at his best, as Marlowe goes head-to-head with almost every female character he comes across, most notably Vivian.  Several scenes are loaded with sexual innuendo, including the great 'racy talk' scene in which horseracing becomes an analogy for more intimate activities in a restaurant conversation between Marlowe and Vivian.  Bogart and Bacall, who were married before the film was released, have a great chemistry that, by itself, is well worth the price of admission.

   Listen to clips of dialogue from Bogey and Bacall:

    Audio Clip 1
"We could've had a lot of fun if you weren't a detective..."  (Bacall)

    Audio Clip 2
"There's one thing I can't figure out."  (Bogart)
"What makes me run?"  (Bacall)
"Uh-huh."  (Bogart)
"I'll give you a little hint... sugar won't work.  It's been tried."  (Bacall)

    Audio Clip 3
"I don't know how... how far you can go."  (Bogart)
"A lot depends on who's in the saddle."  (Bacall)

    Audio Clip 4
"I like that.  I'd like more..."  (Bacall)

      The atmosphere, the snappy, sexy dialogue (the novelist William Faulkner was part of the writing team that brought Raymond Chandler's novel to the screen) and the great cast make this a memorable film, even though the plot is overly complex to the point that director Howard Hawks claimed to not understand it.  The complexity was made even more difficult when changes that were made to the film in order to raise Bacall's profile and heat up the interaction between her and Bogart.  When additional scenes were shot to accomplish this, some of the material in the original version of the film had to be cut to keep the film under two hours in length - including at least one key scene in which the story's complexities were explained.  Despite the confusion this creates, the trade-off was worthwhile, as the additional scenes make the film memorable.

      Bacall is smart and sexy, and the other female characters are also great fun (including those played by Vickers and Dorothy Malone plus a host of others that flirt with Bogart such as a book store employee, librarian, cab driver and coat check girl).  Bogart is Bogart - cool, cynical, but ultimately passionate and loyal."  {taken from}

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