Monday, December 7, 2009

The Big Sleep (1946)

The Providence Public Library started running a Film Noir Sunday Matinee several weeks ago. They began with The Maltese Falcon, did Double Indemnity last week, and yesterday was The Big Sleep. I Finally had the chance to stop in. I dragged along my 13 year old kicking and screaming.

The movie was delayed a half hour. Seems that Netflix sent them the wrong movie. Which one did they get? The remake. They took a trip to a video store.

Humphrey Bogart is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, private dick. Rich man hires him because somebody is trying to blackmail his hottie daughter. His other daughter is played by Lauren Bacall. Hey, my first Bogie and Bacall film. I remember Bacall back in the day as an elderly spokeswoman for polident or whatever and for that reason I have a hard time thinking of her as hot. I'll say this about the old broad: she's 86 and has three movies coming out next year.

The story twists and turns like film noir is want to do. The big screen holds my attention better than the small so I think I followed it better than I did The Maltese Falcon, but I was still somewhat mystified. Who is in cahoots with who? Who killed that one? Why?

There is something to say about the media being the message. The jokes are funnier, the gun shots more dramatic, the suspense more intense, the kissing scenes more uncomfortable for a 13 year old boy. I noticed this effect in reverse recently. My Seven Samurai experience encouraged me to have the boys watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. On my second viewing, I rated it a real good movie. When I first saw it in a theater I thought it one of the best movies ever. It simply didn't translate to the small screen very well. Forest Gump fell similarly.

Unlike the genre Horror, I don't have a good feel for what defines film noir. All men wear suits, all women wear cocktail dresses or long flowing nightgowns. Men are men and women are young and hot. Lots of smoking and drinking. Everybody is serious and wants to be taken seriously. And it must be a detective story. Otherwise, Casablanca would be film noir. Am I close?

Lets take a look at the ladies, shall we? Of the principle women in the film, the oldest was 23 when the movie came out. The OLDEST! Of course there was a cigarette girl who was the ripe old age of 29, but she barely had one line. 46 year old Bogie claimed to be 38. Must of been good to be a dirty old man in Hollywood back in the day.

What was that 13 year old's reaction at the end of the film? He applauded. This is a total Must See Again film. Great dialog. Wonderfully filmed sequences. Atmosphere, texture, all those film school phrases. It was great stuff. I have to bring the wife next time. AMRU 4.

Oh, and I am seriously considering elevating Lauren Bacall to hot.

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