|Humphrey Bogart supports the delicious Martha Vickers.|
The last time I watched The Big Sleep (1946) was on Thursday August 1, 2013. This is one of my all-time favourite classic films so I try to watch it at least once every three to four months. Quite frankly I can't get enough of it and I often find myself learning new details and uncovering more intrigue every time I see it. It's one of those films that never gets old, if you know what I mean. No matter how many times you've seen it, there's still something new and undiscovered about it. Kinda like watching Double Indemnity (1944) over and over again. You always learn something new, don't you?
The Big Sleep is a mind-bender of a movie. Trust me. It took me at least a few times of watching this film before I finally understood what the heck was happening. For me, I hard a really hard time keeping track of who was who and how each character related to another. I'm pretty sure that the first time I sat through this film I must have had a blank look on my face for the entire two hour running time. Attractive.
But that's also what makes this film so enjoyable to watch - it's a story that keeps the viewer on his or her toes. Many film noirs are the same way and I suspect that's one of the many reasons why they were so popular back in the 1940s and 1950s. The Big Sleep's primary storyline concerns private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) and his investigation involving a rich elderly man, General Sternwood (Charles Waldron), and the pornographer who is blackmailing Sternwood's naughty daughter Carmen (Martha Vickers). Lauren Bacall co-stars as Carmen's older, more responsible sister Vivian Rutledge.
The Big Sleep was originally a novel penned by Raymond Chandler and the problem with the film was that most of the book's content had to be cut in order to please the film sensors of the time (the dreaded CODE - dun dun dunnn). With most of the novel's content cut, the film's storyline and plot twists are extremely hard to follow. For instance, the casual film viewer has absolutely no idea that Geiger (an uncredited Theodore von Eltz) is a pornographer who is blackmailing Carmen Sternwood with a set of her nude images. I honestly had no idea that that's what was going on! Did you? I'm either really naive and innocent or it's the sensor's fault. I like to think it's the latter. A couple of people have actually said that reading the book before seeing the movie was a great help because it gave them the backstory and all the little tidbits that were cut from the shooting script.
The reason why I count this film amongst my favourites is because:
- it stars Humphrey Bogart and a bevy of classic Hollywood hotties (Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers, and Dorothy Malone),
- it's got porn, guns, booze, and cigarettes galore,
- all the vehicles in this film look incredibly difficult to maneuver and park (and this makes me laugh),
- the film has a lot of rain in it,
- Bacall's costumes were purr-fect,
- and finally, The Big Sleep has some of the greatest lines of dialogue ever! "She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up," remains my favourite movie line of ALL FREAKING TIME! No matter how many times I've heard it, it still cracks me up and makes me think naughty thoughts (oops, did I just say that out loud?).
How do you feel about The Big Sleep? Is it one of your favourite films as well? Do you love it as much as I do? Tell me about your obsession below in the comments!