Monday, 15 December 2014
The Big Sleep (1946)
This is a very good film.
As insights go, if you know anything about movies, that's about on a level of "water is wet". Even if you aren't familiar with The Big Sleep's esteemed position in the history of crime cinema, there are plenty of clues you're in for something special. You've got one of the greatest directors of the era. You've got one of the greatest screen couples of any era. You've got a script by Faulkner from a novel by Chandler. It would take deliberate sabotage for this film to not be good.
There are no saboteurs to be found here, however. The cast is uniformly strong, while the script pairs a solid enough plot with dialogue that is justly famous to this day. Whether it's Bogart grilling a suspect or having history's dirtiest conversation about horse-racing with Bacall, the film is never dull when folks are talking.
Plot-wise, I don't want to say too much. Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is hired by the wealthy General Sternwood. Ostensibly his job is to quietly handle a spot of blackmail of Sternwood's younger daughter. There's a whole lot more than that going on, of course, but part of the fun is seeing it all develop on screen, and I have no intention of spoiling it.
I like this better than The Maltese Falcon, probably because I liked Marlowe better as a character than Sam Spade. There's a bit less bastard in this magnificent bastard, and a bit more decency.
Unless you're one of those people who refuses to watch black and white films (in which case you have my condolences) you should definitely check this out. Excellent stuff.