The Big Sleep (1946)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 9/3/11
Director: Howard Hawks
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

Humphrey Bogart is private detective Philip Marlowe in this adaptation of Raymond Chandler's classic murder mystery. Marlowe is hired to bust up a blackmail racket and gets more than he bargained for when the suspect winds up dead. He also has his hands full dealing with Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall), a beautiful and insolent woman with a deadly secret. The film is full of gorgeous women and sexual innuendo, and the exchanges between Bogart and Bacall are fantastic. Bogart is excellent in the role and is just as baffled by the complex and convoluted plot as the audience is. Marlowe is a rough and rude guy, but he has weaknesses and human frailties as well. Bacall is delightfully dangerous, and is the only one who can break through Marlowe's tough exterior. The film looks great and moves at an incredibly brisk pace, preserving much of Chandler's original dialog. It's mainly a character driven film, which makes it easy to enjoy even when you're having difficulty trying to figure out all of the details. Excellent stuff.