The Big Sleep (1946 Film) Background

The Big Sleep (1946 Film) Background

The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noire directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of the novel by Raymond Chandlee. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as Phillip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Rutledge and was one of the first films to deliberately include more scenes starring both of the actors because of the marketing value of the "Bogie and Bacall" chemistry.

The film is known for its convoluted plot. During the filming neither the. Screenwriters or the director knew whether chauffeur Owen Taylor had died by his own hand or somebody else's, so they sent a cable to Raymond Chandler to ask. Chandler later told a friend that he didn't know the answer either.

After the film was completed or was not released until a backlog of war related movies had come out; the studio feared the public might lose interest in war films as Workd War Two came to a close but The Big Sleep did not contain similarly "time sensitive" material although signs that the country was at war can be seen in the film; there are many pictures of Roosevelt, dead bodies are called "red points" which is a reference to wartime near rationing, and Marlowe's car bears a "B" gasoline rationing sticker in the passenger window which indicates that he was essential to the war effort and therefore allowed right gallons of gasoline per week.

The film was greatly affected by the censorship of the Hays Code which heavily restricted sexual themes; in the novel Geiger is selling pornography which was then illegal; likewise he was in a homosexual relationship with Lundgren. References to homosexuality were prohibited so their relationship goes in-remarked upon in the film.

The critical response to the film in 1946 was lack luster; Bosley Crowther wrote it left the audience dissatisfied and confused and other critics remarked that the story was just too baffling. Modern day critics have been kinder and in 1997 the U.S. Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and added it to the National Film Registry.

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