4 Stars out of 4
The Big Sleep awoke at a great year for movies (The Best Years of Our Lives, It’s A Wonderful Life) – 1946. The war had ended and cinema was no longer associated as war-aspiring propaganda. Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep has no context to the war and is a series of murders and a case of blackmail with very few results. The film is so clever yet there is no payoff needed. It was one of those movies that kept you laughing even when the protagonist, Detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart), was staring down a gun barrel.
It was based on a 1939 novel by Raymond Chandler. I’ve read most of that book. It is a thick read, high on the mood and quick on its toes. When we think of The Big Sleep, people associate it as the film noir where little happens and nothing is resolved. Welcome to the world of Howard Hawks. This director is known for past films like Scarface and he would later direct his glorious swan song Rio Bravo. Known for his hang-around style, The Big Sleep is a murky bit of conversation. Characters trying to take control through their words and Marlowe always coming out on top. (continue reading…)