HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Justine
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
School's Out Forever
Breeder
Stump the Guesser
Sator
Last Warning, The
PVT CHAT
Ascent, The
Clementine
Hurt by Paradise
   
 
Newest Articles
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Big Sleep, The A Travesty of the Michael Winner Classic
Year: 1946
Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Peggy Knudsen, Regis Toomey, Charles Waldron, Charles D. Brown, Bob Steele, Elisha Cook Jr, Louis Jean Heydt
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 3 votes)
Review: Private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is on the case when ailing millionaire General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) hires him to discover who is out to blackmail his two wayward daughters, delicious but duplicitous Vivian (Lauren Bacall) and naughty nympho Carmen (Martha Vickers), which is somehow connected to the mysterious disappearance of his good friend, Rusty Regan. Marlowe unearths a labyrinthine mystery involving a blackmail ring operating behind a respectable bookstore, small time crooks and big time mobsters. He also sparks up some heat with vivacious Vivian. Can true love weave its way past a tangled web of sex, lies and murder?

A rare instance where studio interference actually improved a movie, this seminal Bogart and Bacall masterpiece was filmed in 1944 but withheld from release for two years. At the behest of Warner Brothers the great Howard Hawks restructured the film, removing substantial chunks of Raymond Chandler’s plot. In their place Hawks added more scenes featuring the priceless Bogie and Bacall banter that had electrified the public in To Have and To Have Not (1944). On top of that, censorship restrictions of the time meant Hawks had to tiptoe around the racier aspects of the story. Yet miraculously, in spite of a near-incomprehensible plot, The Big Sleep proves conclusively that a film does not have to make sense in order to be compelling. Every scene is a gem, sparkling with wit and style. Hawks’ unique methodology was to ensure each scene contained something quirky, offbeat and memorable in the hope these would add up to a strong narrative. As such he was less concerned with shining a light on a mystery so impenetrable even Raymond Chandler famously did not know who killed the chauffeur. For this reason the film is less lauded among Chandler purists than Murder, My Sweet (1944) or even the more radical Lady of the Lake (1947) despite the fact that on a cinematic level it outranks both.

There are those that rate The Big Sleep as classic film noir which is debatable given the tone is nowhere as fatalistic as Double Indemnity (1944), The Killers (1946) or Out of the Past (1947). Chandler’s Philip Marlowe is not an antihero doomed by his own bad decisions. He is a jaded romantic whose cynical surface masks strong moral principles. Film critic Roger Ebert was perhaps closer to the mark in describing the story as being about “the process of a criminal investigation, not its results.” The Big Sleep is the cinema’s finest psychological detective story (by contrast, Chinatown (1974) is cinema’s finest sociopolitical detective story), less concerned with the blackmail and murder angle than the wider mystery of human relationships. What drove earthly angel Vivian Sternwood to entangle herself in such a sordid web and what does Marlowe’s reaction to her plight reflect of humanity as a whole? Marlowe emerges something of an alchemist, peering inside an existential void past deceit, corruption and despair to unearth not only truth but love. For Hawks and Chandler as well, empathy (read: love) and decency are the salvation of the human race.

Although Bogart’s Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941) is the more psychologically complex character, The Big Sleep has him at his most charismatic essaying the archetypal wisecracking, two-fisted gumshoe. If Bogie is the definitive screen detective then Bacall is the archetypal dangerous dame. Although derided by critics back in the day, her assured and charismatic performance commands attention as she keeps pace with Bogart. These two relish the choice dialogue served up by screenwriters William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Hawks favourite Leigh Brackett (an uncredited Julius Epstein penned the sexually suggestive racehorse dialogue). Yet while Bogie and Bacall earned all the plaudits, film fans should not overlook how phenomenal Martha Vickers is as thumb-sucking nymphomaniac Carmen who prompts the immortal Marlowe witticism: “She tried to sit on my lap while I was standing up.” Special mention is also due for the delightful scene featuring Dorothy Malone as arguably cinema’s most tantalising bookseller, who turns into a goddess the moment she takes off her glasses. Indeed pay close attention and you’ll notice The Big Sleep appears to unfold in some parallel universe where every woman is astoundingly beautiful and seemingly hot for Marlowe. Aside from convincing contemporary viewers life was awesome in the Forties, Hawks upholds a furious pace packing a huge amount of excitement and atmosphere into a tight running time. And the climax is among the most intense nail-biting sequences cinema has to offer.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2202 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: