Skip to main content

The Big Sleep


I’ve been watching a lot of Humphrey Bogart movies lately, a mini-kick if you will. Bogart was sort of the earliest idea of a classic Hollywood star I ever had. Everyone, to a certain degree, has an awareness of “Casablanca” (and if you don’t, go watch it now), so he’s always been floating around in the national conciseness. I think part of the reason too was the numerous times Bogart was characterized in Looney Tunes cartoons that were a huge part of my childhood. My love for movies goes way back, and one of the first classics—after having watching as many Marx Brothers movies as I could get my hands on—I ever saw was 1946’s “The Big Sleep,” based the book of the same name by Raymond Chandler. 

“The Big Sleep” is a quintessential Film Noir, by one of the great American directors, Howard Hawks. Bogart plays Phillip Marlowe in the movie, a private eye hired by an aging general to look after some gambling debts one of his daughters has raked up. Now that’s all I will share, if you want to know what happens, watch the film. However, one of the universal truths about “The Big Sleep” is the plot is a bit muddled and not quite as clear in its resolution. But hey, you don’t watch “Bullitt” for the plot, and neither do you “The Big Sleep.” 

“The Big Sleep” is a great film because of how well crafted and acted it is. It was the second film to pair Bogart with Lauren Bacall. The scenes between the two of them are simply electric, thanks to their chemistry together, a witty script, and style for days coating every aspect of the production. The film is a great argument for why black and white cinematography is a lost art. The film is also an interesting look at how—on rare occasions—studio interference can help. 

In the late ‘90s a 1945 “pre-release” cut of the film was discoverer in the UCLA film and television archive. The 1945 version of the film is Howard Hawks’ original cut, and was released overseas to play to military troops in the South Pacific. As World War Two was winding down, WB held back release of “The Big Sleep” to rush out their remaining wartime pictures, for fear they’d do poorly at the box office in the post-war days. 

One of those films was a movie with Lauren Bacall, where critics savaged her performance. Her agent advised studio boss Jack Warner that maybe they should try to beef her scenes up in the “The Big Sleep,” adding more sequences like her and Bogart had shared in “To Have and Have Not.” A year after principal photography on the film was warped, retakes were shot for “The Big Sleep.” Though the 1945 version does give a more linear plot line, it also isn’t quite as good as the 1946 version.

After this pre-release version of the film was restored, it was released to art house theaters along with a comparison sequence of the differences between the two versions. This 1945 version of the film, along with the comparison reel, and an introduction, is included as an extra on Warner Archive’s new Blu-Ray of “The Big Sleep.”

I’ve seen “The Big Sleep” numerous times over the years and in numerous formats. This new Blu-Ray is the finest home video presentation the film has had to date. The movie looks sharp, rich, and stunning. Little detail such as white pinstripes in Bogart’s suit in dark scenes come out—I’ve never noticed them before. “The Big Sleep” is a film that anyone who is even a little serious about movies should see.. For someone whose love for this film goes way back, it’s been the most wonderful gift of all to see this classic come to the world in sparking HD for the first time ever.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Blue Christmas Lights

Despite all the tinsel and glow, all the shinny faces and families rushing around in their SUVs and minivans, Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for some people. An example? Recently a friend of mine was talking about grocery shopping with her husband and children. She came across the seasonal display of Little Debbie cakes, and began to pick up two boxes to mail to her grandfather. Upon putting them in the cart, she remembered that her grandfather passed away this year, she quietly, and sadly, placed the boxes back on the shelf.
Before you get me wrong, I'm not hating on Christmas. I love this time of the year, genuinely, not in a “Up next on the Donnie and Marie Christmas Special is Andy Ross and he's gonna read that off some cue cards” way. I suppose why I feel a need to talk about this, is that I felt a little down last Christmas. It was odd, I didn't even feel enthusiastic about making my annual Christmas Mix CD, which has become something people actually…

Convincing Yourself You're Good.

I have Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is that feeling that what you do isn't good enough, and that someone is gonna eventually figure out how woefully unqualified you are and kick you to the curb. One of the traits of my personality that I dislike is that I am way too hard on myself. Seriously, give my mind an inch and I will somehow figure out that I am the sole person responsible for the world's troubles.

Having Imposter Syndrome is kind of like playing the game Werewolf. My friends and I play a version of the game called One Night Ultimate Werewolf, in the game each player picks a card that gives them a specific role, either a villager or a werewolf, and the villagers all have distinct roles that they play on top of that--special abilities and the like. The object of the game is two fold, if you're a werewolf, you don't wanna be caught. If you're a village, you wanna catch the werewolves. Imposter Syndrome makes you feel like you're always in the role…

Blood Cold Mysteries

If there is one bit of esoteric classic movie stuff that simply fascinates me, it’s the trilogy of films directed by veteran actor William Conrad—and all released in 1965. They’re the three of only four feature films directed by Conrad, who spent all of his other directorial adventures on the small screen. The late William Conrad was a famed actor, playing Matt Dillon on the original radio version of “Gunsmoke,” and coming to full pop culture fame on TV in “Cannon” & “Jake and The Fat Man.” For this writer, Conrad will always be immortal for being the narrator on “Rocky & Bullwinkle.” 
The three films in question all were released by Warner Brothers—where Conrad had a production office it seems—and are: “Brainstorm,” “Two On A Guillotine,” and the film I’m going to talk about today, “My Blood Runs Cold.” One of the reasons I’m fascinated by these three films is my built in soft spot for 1960s, black and white horror fare with crazy, bombastic promotion. I adore the films of Wil…