The Big Sleep (1946 Film)

The Big Sleep (1946 Film) Literary Elements


Howard Hawks

Leading Actors/Actresses

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

Supporting Actors/Actresses

John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Regis Toomey, Elisha Cooke Jr.






Date of Release

August 23, 1946


Howard Hawks

Setting and Context

1940s Los Angeles

Narrator and Point of View

There is no narrator, but the film follows the perspective of private investigator Philip Marlowe throughout.

Tone and Mood

The mood is mainly tense, mysterious, moody, and suspenseful. There are also moments of romance, and even a musical number, but primarily, it has the tone of a thriller.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Philip Marlowe; Antagonist: Eddie Mars

Major Conflict

The major conflict is the solving of the mystery of the murder of Arthur Geiger and the disappearance of Sean Regan. While Marlowe is discouraged from getting too involved in the disappearance of Sean Regan, his curiosity about the nature of the disappearance leads to his revelation of a larger crime.


The climax occurs when Marlowe gets Eddie Mars to confess to all of his crimes and forces him out of Geiger's house at gunpoint to be shot by his own men.


There are a number of moments of foreshadowing. Carmen's permissive and flirtatious attitude upon first meeting Marlowe foreshadows the sordid activities that she participates in later in the film.

Vivian and Marlowe's flirtations throughout (not to mention the image of them smoking cigarettes together during the opening credits) foreshadow their eventual affair.


Vivian and Marlowe each saying to the other, limply, “I guess I’m in love with you.”

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques


Ben Hur, Marcel Proust



Vivian and Marlowe both profess their love to one another the same way: “I guess I’m in love with you.”