Vivian Rutledge: I don’t like your manners.
Philip Marlowe: And I’m not crazy about yours. I didn’t ask to see you. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners, I don’t like them myself. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings. And I don’t mind your ritzing me or drinking your lunch out of a bottle, but don’t waste your time trying to cross-examine me. (You really have to hear it in Bogart’s rhythm.)
plays shamus Phillip Marlowe in this convoluted tale of deception and corruption. I had to watch the movie several times before I really understood what was going on, but it was so much fun to watch, that I didn’t’ worry about figuring it out. It isn’t the story or the plot that keeps one coming back, but the interactions of several very interesting characters.
One of the interesting characters, Elisha Cook Jr
. plays Harry Jones, a nice-guy honest crook, very different from his turn in The Maltese Falcon
. “I come in talking two C’s. That’s still the price. I come because I thought I’d get a take-it-or-leave-it, one right guy to another. Now you’re waving cops at me. You oughta be ashamed of yourself.” Cook is, I think, a very underrated actor. The variety of parts he’s played, from the stupid gunsel in Falcon
to the stubborn farmer in Shane
, he was really very believable.
The Big Sleep
is the second outing for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
with director Howard Hawks
. Hawks was Bacall’s champion when she began in Hollywood. He’s the one who got her on her first film, To Have and Have Not
, where she met Bogart. Hard to believe this is only her third film.
In The Big Sleep, Marlowe is called to the house of very rich General Sternwood about some blackmail regarding his younger daughter, Carman (Martha Vickers), who’s a bit wild and childlike. The older daughter, the divorced Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall) is a bit more sharp and quite a bit more difficult.
The Sternwoods had a fellow working for them named Sean Regan, who was a true tough guy. He’s disappeared. Everyone seems to think Sternwood hired Marlowe to look for Regan. He doesn’t bother correcting them. Many people think Regan has run off with a mobster’s wife. Marlowe isn’t sure, but becomes determined to find out.
Marlowe uncovers a few other things besides the blackmail. Among the many sins are a photograph, lying, deception, narcotics, gambling, an auto chop-shop, several murders, and smoking. Lots of smoking. And possibly some implied fornicating. Marlowe has many witty and/or flirtatious conversations along the way with librarians, book store owners and taxi drivers. (that happens to me all the time)
Part of what Marlowe learns leads him to an antique book dealer named Geiger. This leads him to mobster and owner of gambling and rental houses, Eddie Mars. Also a guy named Brody. And dame named Agnes, who works for Geiger, is in with Brody, and brings in Harry Jones. A real piece of work, that Agnes. There’s also a couple chauffeurs; one gets bumped off and the other bumps someone off.
I don’t think I’ve given anything away, be sure to check it out. Truly one of the best movies and one that stands up to repeat viewing.
As a postscript, I know I’m way behind on reviews, nowhere near one a week, but I wasn’t happy with the writing when I was cranking them out. I do hope to pick up the pace though.