Film Flick Friday: The Big Sleep

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"One day Bogie came on the set and said to Howard (the director), 'Who pushed Taylor off the pier?' Everything stopped," Bacall writes in her autobiography about the shooting of one of film noir's most convoluted plots, The Big Sleep  The  director, screenwriters and even the novel's author were all unable come up with an answer to that particular whodunnit, but that hasn't stopped generations of movie-goers from falling in love with the film and little wonder why. Recreating the chemistry that was palpable in To Have and Have Not , married couple, Bogie and Bacall again take center stage in The Big Sleep.And sparks do fly, just as hot and heavy as in other films between the two. Bogart, known for taking his personal style to an art form, definitely has more than a match in Becall, whose dry reserve and sultry stare could make men start breathing heavy.As the two stars trade witty dialogue back and forth, the film also exhibits the subtle, but effective film techniques that noir is known for, such as high key lighting and use of shadow. And, as Roger Egbert notes, "...The writers (William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett) wrote one of the most quotable of screenplays: It's unusual to find yourself laughing in a movie not because something is funny but because it's so wickedly clever."

Interestingly, this film, starring one of Hollywood's biggest money-makers and a star on the rise, did not see the screen for almost a year and half after filming was complete. As the war was drawing to an end, MGM decided that a detective story had more lasting power than war-themed movies; once the war was finished many movies might seem dated. So war movies saw the screen first! Thank goodness for us that this movie sat in the vaults for a year. During the elapsed time, Becall's reviews in a movie flop, The Confidential Solider , forced movie execs to take a second look at the noir film which in turn resulted in several retakes. The end result is a less linear, but more intriguing plot with the strong performances we can see today!

When Phillip Marlowe takes a job concerning an aging General and his two wild daughters, little is as it seems. Is is just a blackmail case, or something more? And what of the man that the general so carefully did not hire him to find? When the bodies start piling up, it seems there are some secrets people are willing to pay for any way they can. Based on the mystery novel of the same name, The Big Sleep takes you into the process of how a private dick solves his case.

1 comment

  1. I like reading your movie reviews. Don't forget to visit flickr now and then!

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