The Big Sleep (1946)

HOWARD HAWKS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 1946.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by , , , based on the novel by . Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by . Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

My favourite film noir featuring Humphrey Bogart as a wisecracking detective (he was always either Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe) is this exciting melodrama, one with a plot so convoluted that the original writer wasn’t even sure of the secrets behind a few of its mysteries. Shot in dreamy black-and-white with lots of moody lighting and sinister characters, the story begins when Bogart is brought to a rich family’s home and asked to keep an eye on the household’s wild youngest daughter. Playing babysitter soon turns into murder investigation when the body count starts to pile up, and the sultry older sister (Lauren Bacall) doesn’t help matters much either. Exciting and intriguing, with Bogie and Bacall making the sparks fly like never before or since (the film may be black-and-white but Bacall is pure blazing technicolour). Some of the scenes were reshot as late as a whole year after principal photography, but the seamless editing lets none of it show.

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