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The Big Sleep

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Editorial review of The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers directed by Howard Hawks courtesy of

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made screen history together more than once, but they were never more popular than in this 1946 adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel, directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not). Bogart plays private eye Philip Marlowe, who is hired by a wealthy socialite (Bacall) to look into troubles stirred up by her wild, young sister (Martha Vickers). Legendarily complicated (so much so that even Chandler had trouble following the plot), the film is nonetheless hugely entertaining and atmospheric, an electrifying plunge into the exotica of detective fiction. William Faulkner wrote the screenplay. — Tom Keogh

Product Description of The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep - Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall - the film they were made for

L.A. private eye Phillip Marlowe takes on a blackmail case –and a trail peopled with murderers, pornographers, nightclub rogues, the spoiled rich and more. Humphrey Boart plays Raymond Chandlers’ legendary gumshoe and director Howard Hawkes serves up snappy character encounters (particularly involving Lauren Bacall), brisk pace and atmosphere galore in the certified classic.

Movie quotes from The Big Sleep

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart on the set of The Big Sleep

Carmen Sternwood: You’re not very tall are you?
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Well, I, uh, I try to be.

Eddie Mars: Convenient, the door being open when you didn’t have a key, eh?
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Yeah, wasn’t it. By the way, how’d you happen to have one?
Eddie Mars: Is that any of your business?
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): I could make it my business.
Eddie Mars: I could make your business mine.
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Oh, you wouldn’t like it. The pay’s too small.

Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall): Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they’re front runners or comefrom behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Find out mine?
Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall): I think so.
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Go ahead.
Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall): I’d say you don’t like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): You don’t like to be rated yourself.
Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall): I haven’t met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Well, I can’t tell till I’ve seen you over a distance of ground. You’ve got a touch of class, but I don’t know how, how far you can go.
Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall): A lot depends on who’s in the saddle.

Trivia for The Big Sleep

  • While working on the script, writers William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett couldn’t figure out from the novel who murdered a particular character. So they phoned Raymond Chandler, who angrily told them the answer was right there in the book. They shrugged and returned to their work. Chandler soon phoned to say that he looked at the book himself and couldn’t figure out who killed the character, so he left it up to them to decide. In the original cut, shown to the armed services, this question is resolved; in the film as released, it isn’t.
  • Mars’ henchman are named Sidney and Pete, a tribute to Bogie’s frequent co-stars Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.
  • Eager to repeat the success of To Have and Have Not (1944), Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. Warner gave Howard Hawks $50,000 to purchase the rights for The Big Sleep. Hawks bought the rights for $5,000 and pocketed the rest.
  • Due to Humphrey Bogart’s affair with co-star Lauren Bacall, his marital problems escalated during filming, and his drinking often resulted in his being unable to work. Three months after the film was finished, Bacall and Bogart were married.
  • Raymond Chandler claimed that Martha Vickers gave such an intense performance as Carmen Sternwood that she completely overshadowed Lauren Bacall, and that much of Vickers’ performance ended up on the cutting room floor as a result.
  • SPOILER: Howard Hawks reused the way Eddie Mars meets his demise (shot by his own men after opening a door) with that of the character Milt in Hawks’ later western El Dorado (1966).

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