#9 of 501: The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep

Last night we watched our second Humphrey Bogart detective movie in less than a week. In this movie he plays Philip Marlowe, a detective created by Raymond Chandler. The movie was released in 1946, and it was the second teaming of Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

I don’t want to compare The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, that wouldn’t be fair to either film. But it will be difficult. I have a bias towards The Big Sleep for a number of reasons. 1) I prefer Raymond Chandler’s stories to Dashiell Hammett’s. 2) I think that  Howard Hawks is a better director than John Huston. And 3) The screenplay is much better. After all, William Faulkner was one of the writers.

Having said that, there are some things about The Big Sleep that bother me. The first is the scene where Lauren Bacall sings. As far as I can tell, that scene does nothing to move the story along, and detracts from her overall performance. Oh, and in my opinion, she can’t sing.

Of course there is the issue of Owen Taylor, the chauffeur’s, death. Was it murder, suicide, or accident? If it was murder, who killed him? Those questions were not answered in the film. I have read that the version of the movie that was shown to our troops overseas answered those questions, but they were cut out of the version released in the States.

Cindy and I both thought that the women Marlowe encountered in the movie were all rather forward (Dorothy Malone’s character stands out in my mind). It seems like there were a lot of horny women in L.A. Perhaps there were, it was filmed near the end of World War II.

But despite those things, I like this movie a lot, and Cindy also enjoyed it. It is another of those movies that I watch every year or two. It was a satisfying evening.