The story involves Philip Marlowe (Bogart), being
hired by a wealthy man, General Sternwood (Charles Waldron), to
investigate the supposed gambling debts of a wild daughter, Carmen,
played by Martha Vickers. In the course of the film, Marlowe becomes
involved with pornographers (subtly implied), grifters, murder,
illegal gambling, and the family's OTHER daughter, Vivian, played
with great style, by Lauren Bacall.
"The Big Sleep" is one of the most entertaining detective
movies ever made. Part of it is the direction, part of it is the
cast, and a lot of it is the great dialogue in the script, courtesy
of William Faulkner, Jules Furthman, and Leigh Brackett, which
was adapted from the Raymond Chandler novel, his first. This film
is very enjoyable today, fifty years after its original debut
A memorable scene takes place between Bogart and Bacall at a restaurant-bar.
As they flirt, they speak in a kind of sexual code, using references
to horse racing; like making it around the track and riding, in
place of more explicit language. It's fun, witty, spicy dialogue,
though technically "clean." Unlike many other Hollywood
married couple who have shared the screen together over the years,
Bogart and Bacall have great screen chemistry.
This beautifully photographed film noir is a nearly perfect example
of the 1940's approach to studio-based, film making. Virtually
every scene was shot on a Warner Brothers soundstage or on the
back lot, as opposed to real exteriors, giving the film makers
total control of the various elements of the film.
Also, it is a classic tale because of the film's clever, involving,
complicated script. No one seems to know who committed one of
the film's numerous murders. Even the source novelist, Chandler,
didn't know. This story glitch doesn't inhibit your enjoyment
of the movie.