HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Host
Nimic
House of Bamboo
Murder Me, Monster
Hell and High Water
Possessor
Flint
Miserables, Les
Ritz, The
Patrick
Cemetery
Girls of the Sun
Princess and the Goblin, The
Skyfire
Upright
Incredible Kung Fu Mission
Dirty Cops
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist
Son's Room, The
Evil Hits Evil
Agency
Blue My Mind
Thumbelina
Proxima
Aprile
Assassination Nation
Golden Key, The
Image Book, The
On Body and Soul
Unhinged
Eyewitness
Girlfriends
Danger Within
Rent-A-Pal
Battle in Outer Space
H-Man, The
Painted Bird, The
Finding Steve McQueen
Ropes
   
 
Newest Articles
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
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox 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 2083 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 is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: