Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Big Sleep...

I watched The Big Sleep (1946) on the weekend. Adapted from a Raymond Chandler novel of the same name (twice, 1946 and 1978) this movie is a quintessential hard boiled film noir and the second of four films that Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart would star alongside each other in. They were married three months after shooting finished for The Big Sleep. If you have seen any of the other films they were together in: To Have or have not (1944), Dark Passage (1947), or Key Largo (1948), you would know their powerful on screen connection. Bogart was 46 years old, and well seasoned into the iconic Bogie that we know and love from Casablanca (1942) and The Maltese Falcon (1941). However, he was in at least 45 other films prior to Casablanca. Bacall was 21 when they married.

Ever wondered if Humphrey Bogart was his real name? It was, he was born Humphrey DeForest Bogart in New York, 1899. Lauren Bacall however was born Betty Joan Perske, 1924.

The Big Sleep is complexly layered with intrigue, deceit and other such devices commonly associated with the genre of crime fiction and film noir, but it is done spectacularly. Aside from some over acting by one of the female characters in the first three minutes of the film, it is wonderful, well paced, suspenseful and for me, the right amount of dramatic.  I love the focus on the use of cars and telephones, the suits and hats and the women's clothing. It is a beautifully crafted film, even if it was re-edited and rehashed to be made into more of a romance film to cash in on the success of Bacall and Bogart's previous film together. I can't even imagine how great it must have been to go and see a Bogart film when it was just released.

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