Thoughts on The Big Sleep

Saturday, August 28, 2010 7:21 PM By Simon

-I am torn about this movie: on the one hand, the plot is so convoluted not even the author of the book on which it was based (Raymond Chandler) could solve a particular death. Apparently, Lauren Bacall, in her autobiography, said that Bogart brought this up (basically, whether the chauffeur's death was a murder or a suicide), and 'everything stopped'. They asked Chandler, and he realized that he didn't know either. That's how damn confusing it was.

-But on the other hand, is that what we really care about? The plot? No, we're not watching The Big Sleep for it's intricate storytelling. We're watching for the dry, witty dialogue spat out from the side of the mouth, cohabitant with a cigarette. We're watching for saucy women being saucy, half-eviscerating their men with nothing more than a knowing glare. Men who neatly fall into the categories of 'anti-hero', 'enemy of anti-hero' or 'enemy of my enemy'. But most of all, we're watching for Bogie and Bacall's verbal sparring, their playful flirting and mutual suspicion. They own this movie, to be frank.

-I'm curious about this much-talked about Martha Vickers, who played Carmen, the 'nymphy' sister of Bacall's Vivien. Her scenes, for what's left of them, are fantastically acted, but I kind of want to see the ones that, supposedly, had her outshining Bacall. Her catchphrase in what made it to the theatrical cut, but the way, is basically 'You're cute'.

-I couldn't tell the men apart, okay? They all wore snazzy hats and suits, all spoke with the same hard-boiled sneer, all had the same basic build (except Bogart, of course. He is a tiny fella). All the supporting bad guys just blended together.

-Who the fuck killed the driver?


Hal said...

Spot-on. Yeah, I didn't understand what was going on most of the time, but Bogie and Bacall are soo cool that it's easily forgivable.

August 28, 2010 at 8:36 PM
Rob said...

Hell, I read the book after seeing the film and I STILL couldn't figure out who killed the chauffeur! As usual, the book's more explicit, and honestly the only way to describe Carmen (this is meant accurately, not mean-spiritedly)is as a sexy, nasty, mentally retarded slut. I love the film version so much I can overlook the many minor changes that were made due to censorship, but one moment is jarring: when Bacall is singing in the nightclub-WTF was the director thinking when he filmed that part? But shit...Bogie and Bacall! And that delicious Dorothy Malone at the bookstore (in the text, she actually put the "closed" sign on the door, locked it and they proceeded to...well, you know). Just some thoughts.

August 28, 2010 at 9:22 PM
Fitz said...

I still haven't seen this. I'll have to see if I can figure out who killed the driver for myself.

August 28, 2010 at 9:59 PM
Burning Reels said...

For me, better than The Maltese Falcon and arguably the greatest of all Film Noir.

August 31, 2010 at 4:37 PM