Video Review

The Big Sleep

MPAA Rating: Unrated
EW's GRADE
A

Details Movie Rated: Unrated; Genre: Mystery and Thriller; With: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart; Distributor: Warner Bros.

Humphrey Bogart wasn't Chandler's ideal Philip Marlowe — the author's choice was Cary Grant. But Bogart's portrayal of the detective as wisecracking moralist now seems to be what makes The Big Sleep the best of the eight Philip Marlowe pictures made to date. Of course, the plot is so confusing that nobody — not director Howard Hawks, coscreenwriters Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman, and William Faulkner, or even Chandler himself — has ever been able to make complete sense of it. But thanks to a superb ensemble (including Lauren Bacall and cowboy actor Bob Steele as a murderous thug), a poisonous Los Angeles atmosphere you can cut with a knife, and typically high-powered direction by Hawks, the whole thing is so engrossing you're not likely to notice. Coolest scene: Bogey and bookstore clerk Dorothy Malone trading double entendres over a bottle of bourbon. A

Originally posted Sep 14, 1990 Published in issue #31 Sep 14, 1990 Order article reprints
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