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The Big Sleep (1946)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 31 August 1946 (USA)
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1:49 | Trailer
Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director:

Howard Hawks

Writers:

William Faulkner (screen play), Leigh Brackett (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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3,728 ( 534)
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Philip Marlowe
Lauren Bacall ... Vivian Rutledge
John Ridgely ... Eddie Mars
Martha Vickers ... Carmen Sternwood
Dorothy Malone ... Acme Book Shop Proprietress
Peggy Knudsen ... Mona Mars
Regis Toomey ... Chief Inspector Bernie Ohls
Charles Waldron Charles Waldron ... General Sternwood
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... Norris - the Butler
Bob Steele ... Lash Canino
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Harry Jones
Louis Jean Heydt ... Joe Brody
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Storyline

P.I. Philip Marlowe's hired by a wealthy general to find out and stop his daughter, Carmen from being blackmailed over gambling debts, Marlowe finds himself deep within a web of love triangles, blackmail, murder, gambling, and organised crime. With help from Vivian (another of the general's daughters), Marlowe hatches a plot to free the family from this web and trap the real culprit. Written by Alec

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

TEEMING WITH STAR-TEAM EXCITEMENT! (re-release print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 August 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Sleep See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,356
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (pre-release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When Marlowe is tied up and sitting on the floor, Vivian removes his white handkerchief from his black jacket. She then puts it back in the pocket, leaving about an inch of the handkerchief exposed. For the next minute or so, the jacket is shown but the handkerchief is missing. When Vivian unties Marlowe and in the scenes immediately following the handkerchief is in the pocket again with part of it exposed. See more »

Quotes

Carmen Sternwood: You're not very tall, are you?
Philip Marlowe: Well, I, uh, I tried to be.
See more »

Crazy Credits

When Marlowe asks the Acme Book store employee if she knows anything about rare books, she is holding a pencil with the pointed writing edge pointing toward Marlowe. But on the very next cut after she answers, "You could try me", the eraser edge of the pencil is now pointing toward Marlowe. See more »

Alternate Versions

Both the preview version and the theatrical release are available on DVD. The running times of each are similar but there are actually over 20m of differences between the two versions - the impact of the changes is to beef up the Bogart/Bacall romance angle and make it much sexier. The preview version comes across as much duller than the better-known theatrical release print which has been made a genuine classic by the re-shooting and re-editing. The major differences are:
  • preview version has extra footage of Bogart searching Geiger's house where he has found Bacall's sister in a drugged state. This doesn't reveal any new information and was deleted for pacing reasons in the theatrical print.
  • preview version has different footage when Bogart takes the drugged sister back to her mansion. Theatrical print removes some of this and replaces it with a new scene set in Bacall's bedroom in which she and Bogie exchange some great, racy dialogue. This new scene considerably alters the tone of the film.
  • preview version has a scene in which Bacall visits Bogie's office wearing a veil and they talk a lot. Bacall's agent particularly objected to this veil. The theatrical print removes the scene entirely and replaces it with a new one with the couple set in a restaurant which has much sexier dialogue and innuendo (to do with racehorses among other things).
  • the preview version has a long-ish dialogue scene in the DA's office which explains a lot of the plot details although it goes on too long and slows the film's pace. Scene has been removed entirely from the theatrical print.
  • the theatrical print has an additional scene in which Bacall's psycho sister tries to seduce Bogie in his apartment. He rebuffs her. This scene was in the original novel and is important in explaining who really killed the chauffeur. In the preview print, the absence of this scene makes it unclear why Bogie knows that the sister is a psychopath at the finale.
  • the scene in which Bogie is tied up with Bacall and Eddie Mars' wife was completely re-shot for the theatrical release with a different actress playing Mars' wife. The theatrical release edit emphasizes the Bacall/Bogie pairing more and has additional close-ups of Bacall.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Making of 'The Big Lebowski' (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine
(uncredited)
Music by Stan Kenton and Charles Lawrence
Lyrics by Joe Greene
Played by a band at the casino and sung by Lauren Bacall and patrons
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Lots of murders never looked and sounded to good
23 March 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Big Sleep (1946)

Even hardened film noir and Humphrey Bogart fans admit that this is one confusing movie. It makes sense, but it is edited down to such essentials, and it barrels along with the intensity of a bullet in a smoky canyon using overlapping dialog e and a shower of names, half of whom end up dead, it's really an impossible job for a mortal viewer.

And that's where it's aura, and magic, and legend, lie. It's a great film, and if it's flawed by its excessive velocity, it's defined by it, too. Enjoy Bogart as such, and Lauren Bacall for her sporadic appearances, and for Elisha Cook Jr. for a brief, wonderful splash. All the side characters, even the ones who are clearly only characters, are dripping with criminal drama. The photography is dark but never obscure, the action is fast but never unreasonable, and the lines are classic noir.

In fact, the dialog, if you are paying attention, is one of the gems of 1940s movies--really witty and cutting, and cunning. The movie is brilliant top to bottom, if only you could keep track of what was going on.

Suggestions: Read the plot in the Wikipedia entry before you watch the movie a second time. (The first time, just dive and and get lost. It's too much fun to care, if you can let go.) Watch Bogart's delivery, his physical presence, his wherewithal. Listen to Bacall sing (pretty darned good). Watch the amazing light and camera work (Sydney Hickox) with it's constantly moving perspective and layers of action. Follow the score (Max Steiner) which is appropriately restrained, turning just slightly when Bogart and Bacall are in scenes together.

Howard Hawks pulls of a quirky masterpiece here. You get to the end and frankly don't care too much, perhaps, about the outcome, about who survives and what their futures might hold. But that's fine, too. It might just make you want to watch it again. Good filmmaking does that.


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