I’m watching “The Big Sleep”

for what could well be the two hundredth time. I used to watch it every time I got […]

for what could well be the two hundredth time. I used to watch it every time I got insomnia. Lauren Bacall, Humphery Bogart.

Bogart plays Philippe Marlow — a “private dick” or a “shamus” depending on your favored terminology

“Eddie Mars: Convenient, the door being open when you didn’t have a key, eh?
Philip Marlowe: Yeah, wasn’t it. By the way, how’d you happen to have one?
Eddie Mars: Is that any of your business?
Philip Marlowe: I could make it my business.
Eddie Mars: I could make your business mine.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, you wouldn’t like it. The pay’s too small.”

Marlow’s a tough guy, honest, has a good right hook and women fall in his lap despite his bulldog looks and his lack of charm….

“Philip Marlowe: 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.”

The whole movie is full of amazing quotes. The first 20 minutes is hypnotizingly clever.

“General Sternwood: Do you like orchids?
Philip Marlowe: Not particularly.
General Sternwood: Ugh. Nasty things. Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, and their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption.”

My favorite scene comes a bit later though. Bogart and Bacall are flirting, and it’s very … naughty….

Vivian: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they’re front runners or comefrom behind, find out what their whole card is, what makes them run.
Marlowe: Find out mine?
Vivian: I think so.
Marlowe: Go ahead.
Vivian: I’d say you don’t like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.
Marlowe: You don’t like to be rated yourself.
Vivian: I haven’t met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?
Marlowe: Well, I can’t tell till I’ve seen you over a distance of ground. You’ve got a touch of class, but I don’t know how, how far you can go.
Vivian: A lot depends on who’s in the saddle.”

I recommend renting next time you can’t sleep….


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  1. 1

    Great post. I do like it a lot. Also, you might want to read the original novel. Raymond Chandler makes more of the weird psychosexual thing with Camille being a wacked-out nymphet, and he’s a master at dialog. The fact that the screenplay was written by William Faulkner helps, of course…

  2. 2

    …i meant “Carmen,” not “Camille.” Also, there’s a great line from the book (not sure if it’s in the film): Marlowe says, “Such a lot of guns around town, and so few brains.” Coo.

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