Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Big Sleep (1946)

Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Martha Vickers.

I've always had a soft spot for classic film noir, and this is one of the greats of its genre. Bogart stars as Philip Marlowe, a private eye who investigates a case centering around murder and a pornography ring. The plot is fiendishly convoluted (neither author Raymond Chandler nor screenwriter William Faulkner could figure it all out), but ultimately the plot isn't key to enjoying the film. What makes this film a classic is how delightfully kinky it all is- it's almost like they hid the pornography plotline in plain sight, lest we forget that it was made under the Production Code. Bogart is at his cynical best, and is well-matched by three memorable women- a flirtatious bookseller played by Dorothy Malone, naughty rich girl Martha Vickers, and most notably Lauren Bacall as Vickers' older sister, who volleys tart dialogue with Bogart like a champion.

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