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The Big Sleep

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The Most Famous Detective Film Ever?

The Big Sleep directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

Private Detective Philip Marlowe is hired to investigate a blackmail case in which a General's nympho daughter is involved. Bogie finds, several murders later, that he has fallen in love with her elder sister.


Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made screen history together more than once, but they were never more popular than in this 1946 adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not). Bogart plays private eye Philip Marlowe, who is hired by a wealthy socialite (Bacall) to look into troubles stirred up by her wild, young sister (Martha Vickers). Legendarily complicated (so much so that even Chandler had trouble following the plot), the film is nonetheless hugely entertaining and atmospheric, an electrifying plunge into the exotica of detective fiction. William Faulkner wrote the screenplay.


This detective thriller is archetypal Bogart and Bacall. Dripping with rich, sensual, dark atmosphere, so that the complexity of the plot (it took me several viewings over many years to get the hang of it) just doesn't matter - don't worry about following every detail, just sit back and let this stylish, classic noir soak in to your consciousness in its own good time.

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