Look, people are either likely to see The Big Sleep if they get the chance or not, right? But there are going to be some people with good intentions who never get around to it. To those people I say this: go see the damned thing if you ever get a chance. That’s what movie theaters are for, after all.
The plot makes little sense. Somewhere in the transition from Chandler to Faulkner (who wrote the screenplay) by way of Leigh Brackett (who wrote an earlier version of the screenplay, and who much later wrote the first version of The Empire Strikes Back), some of the connective tissue of the novel vanished. No harm, as they say, and no foul. It’s not so much the plot that matters; if you’re seeing this movie, you ought to be seeing it for the lushness of the women and the dialogue and the violence. Virulent violence, really. There’s nothing like a thug.
Lush really is the word. I mean, you can watch the actors just wallowing in the words. Doesn’t hurt that Bogart and Bacall were falling madly in love, but Martha Vickers doesn’t have that excuse and she was just as reckless with her verbiage as the rest. Ditto Dorothy Malone, but more so; ditto Regis Toomey and Elisha Cook, Jr. If Bob Steel isn’t the model for every psychotic henchman ever filmed subsequently, I’ll eat my hat.
Anyhow, go see the damned thing. It’s good to be reminded where Sorkin and Whedon and all those other snappy dialogue young turks learned how to write like that.
“I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners, I don’t like them myself. They are pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings.”