Sonntag, 8. Januar 2012

Let's watch...THE BIG SLEEP

Classic film noir with Bogart as Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe, who is hired by General Sternwood (Waldron) to deal with several problems involving his family. Mainly blackmail toward the younger daughter Carmen (a terrific Martha Vickers). But this is just the beginning as Marlowe is dragged deeper and deeper into a sordid world of criminals and murder. Along the way Marlowe finds himself falling for the eldest daughter Vivian (played by Lauren Bacall). The Big Sleep is a very complicated movie that is still very entertaining. Featuring crisp dialogue and crackerjack performances. Bogart is cool as Marlowe in what I think is his best role. Bacall exudes enough sex appeal for 100 women. Vickers is delightfully seductive and droll in her child-like performance. And Dorothy Malone shines in her brief scene as a shapely bookstore clerk who flirts with Marlowe. An outstanding film and one of my all time favorites.


Eager to repeat the success of To Have and Have Not, Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. Warner gave Howard Hawks $50,000 to purchase the rights for "The Big Sleep." Hawks bought the rights for $5,000 and pocketed the rest.
Due to Humphrey Bogart's affair with co-star Lauren Bacall, his marital problems escalated during filming, and his drinking often resulted in his being unable to work. Three months after the film was finished, Bacall and Bogart were married.
Many of the cars in the film have a "B" sticker in the lower-right corner of their windshields. This is a reflection of the wartime rationing of gasoline. Gas was rationed primarily to save rubber, because Japan had occupied Indochina, Malaysia, and Indonesia. (There was a shortage of gas on the East Coast until a pipeline from Texas was constructed to replace the transport of crude oil by sea.) The B sticker was the second lowest category, entitling the holder to only 8 gallons of gas a week. Marlowe seems to use more than one week's allotment during a 72-hour period, which may be intended to reflect a black market in ration books. However, since Marlowe still has a deputy badge, at least in a deleted scene which existed in the 1945 version, he would be entitled to an X sticker (unlimited gas) as a peace officer. Perhaps the B sticker on the windshield was camouflage, since an X sticker would make the car extremely noteworthy. Marlowe also refers to "three red points," and speaks of a dead body as "cold meat" which refers to the red tokens used to acquire a family's allotment of meat during WWII.
The automobile Bogart uses in "The Big Sleep" is the same car he used as Roy Earle in the 1941 film "High Sierra".
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  1. Thanks for posting the info about the "B" stickers for gasoline rationing. It's details like that which really give authenticity. Very interesting!

  2. The Big Sleep is one of those films where I am out of step with most other classic movie fans. I just really don't like it. I find it very confusing as well. There are some really great, stick-in-your-memory kinds of lines in it, though.

    My favorite of the Bogey/Bacall films is "Dark Passage," with "Key Largo" my second fave.

    Also, that was really neat info about the stickers. Thanks for passing that on.