The Big Sleep

Howard Hawks' THE BIG SLEEP (1946) starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is a very complicated film. It was originally shot in December 1944, a few months after Bogart and Bacall debut pairing, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944), and a few months before the two stars married. THE BIG SLEEP was based on the Raymond Chandler detective mystery of the same name, and was originally slated for release in 1945, but Warners Brothers held it back despite the success of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT because Bacall's  second vehicle, CONFIDENTIAL AGENT (1945) in which she co-starred with Charles Boyer, was not well received.  Warner Bros. decided to improve THE BIG SLEEP, adding more of the snappy, sultry dialogue between Bogart and Bacall (most notably, the horse racing conversation) which had made TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT so popular. Unfortunately, while this made THE BIG SLEEP into a true film-noir classic, Warners also decided to cut a few scenes from the original (1945) version of the film to keep its length manageable, and the result is a plot that, even after repeated viewings, is almost incomprehensible. 
Six people are killed in the course of the film, and one before the action begins. A few of the murders are easily explained, but others remain a mystery, either with regard to the murderer, the motive, or both. While one can conjecture various ways to fill in the blanks, it is impossible to understand everything based on what is given in the film itself. The original 1945 version was located and made available in 1997. It is easier to understand, though lacking the Bacall-Bogie-isms that make the 1946 version the classic that it is. I have also heard that reading the book is really the only way to completely grasp the whole of the plot. However, a movie is never exactly a representation of the book from which it is taken (and this was especially true during the days when the Production Code restricted film content). Therefore, I have attempted below to explain what really happens in THE BIG SLEEP as best as I understand it. My goal is to clarify (and this essay assumes the reader has seen the film), but keep in mind that mine is just one of many possible interpretations. 

From Geiger's house, Marlowe calls Mars and tells him to meet him there, pretending that he's still at the house behind the service station and that it will take him a while to get to Geiger's house. They hide and Mars arrives early to set a trap for them. He has his men surround the house and then goes inside and tries to cut the phone wire but finds out that Marlowe and Mrs. Rutledge are already there. They know he has the house surrounded. 

On the spot, Mars tells Marlowe that Regan is dead and that Carmen did it. He also tells him about how Carmen was in love with Regan but that Regan was in love with his wife, and admits to blackmailing Mrs. Rutledge with the information about Carmen's guilt. After Marlowe fires a few shots into the floor and wounds Mars, Mars' men outside think that Marlowe must have killed Mars, so when he goes running out the front door yelling "Don't shoot!" they accidentally kill him, thinking he's Marlowe. Marlowe picks up the phone and calls Bernie at the police station. Still loyal to Mrs. Rutledge and her desire to protect her sister and father, Marlowe tells Bernie that Mars killed Regan and is now dead himself, having been killed by his own men. He then tells Mrs. Rutledge that she'll have to send Carmen away to an institution or something, since we know that according to the Production Code, a killer can never get off unpunished in the end.

MURDER RECAP: MM What Happened ?
#1 Carmen killed Regan out of jealousy. 
#2 Owen Taylor, the Sternwood chauffeur, shot Geiger at his house because he loved Carmen and didn't like that she was being blackmailed.
#3 Joe Brody killed Owen Taylor and pushed his car into the ocean to get the film from Geiger's camera back.
#4 Geiger's shadow (Carol Lundgren) shot Brody as he answered his apartment door because he mistakenly thought that Brody was the one who killed Geiger.
#5 Canino, one of Eddie Mars' henchman, poisoned Harry Jones because he knew too much (via Agnes).
#6 Marlowe killed Canino as he shot his way out of the house behind the service station.
#7 Eddie Mars was killed by his own men as he ran out of Geiger's house.
Get the 'Big Sleep' Trio :  $ 28.00  Total Cost includes shipping
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The 'Big Sleep' comes in 2 original  production versions. The original director's cut & the messed up, confusing studio version. Also available a 30 min.  UCLA Film documentary. 


The Big Sleep 

 PREVIEW  VERSION not release until 1997.

The Big Sleep 

 RELEASE  VERSION cut up and re-filmed.

The Big Sleep 

 30 min. UCLA Documentary on production saga.


Watch all three tapes back to back for a great night of entertainment


A 30  minute study on the 2 versions and how the movie was made,


reshot and revised.  WOW!!  GREAT!!  GET ALL THREE!! 



Get the 'Big Sleep' Trio  $ 28.00 TOTAL Including shipping

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