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The Big Sleep

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  82 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
This text shows how The Big Sleep signalled a change in the nature of Hollywood cinema, as the director Howard Hawks shot extra scenes, "fun" scenes, to replace the ones in which the murders are explained, and in so doing left the plot unresolved.
Paperback, 73 pages
Published March 29th 1997 by British Film Institute (first published February 1st 1997)
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Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the BFI Film Classics Series, even if my actual experiences with it have been decidedly mixed so far, ranging from disappointed indifference to rather unabashed pleasure. David Thomson's contribution on Howard Hawks's classic The Big Sleep (1946), which he professes in the first pages is his favorite film, falls somewhere in between: compulsively readable, but left me wishing for a bit more. As in something resembling actual analysis of the film. A line in ...more

wonderful companion piece to the film...I think Thomson's brilliantly on point about the almost campy quality of the film, in that the plot is near-incomprehensible and, really, not even close to the point. It's more about the experience, the atmosphere, the Bogie and Bacall-ness of it all...the studio sets comprise about 90% of the mise-en-scene....artifical paradise of mainstream noir- the sexy, subversive dialogue loaded with suggestion and tension. the fact that they called up Raymond Chandl
S. Wilson
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
David Thomas' book on The Big Sleep is everything I expect from a BFI Film Classics volume. As with any film from this period in cinematic history, the behind-the-scenes details are almost as important as what ends up on the screen, but this is even more so when dealing with Hollywood icons like Howard Hawks, Humphrey Bogart, or Lauren Bacall. Thomas is obviously aware of this, and so he takes us through the background of these larger-than-life personalities, and how their actions and interactio ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Another book from the BFI Film Classics series, a series that leaps from the best to the worst from book to book. This is somewhere amongst the not-so-good, because Thomson seems so full of his own stuff that the movie is only marginally dealt with. Yes, the backgrounders on Hawks and Bogart and Ball are useful, and interesting, and the way in which the movie was made is also interesting, given that it somehow managed to get made in spite of the Hollywood system, which should have spat it out as ...more
Thomas Armstrong
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a slim book that helped feed my interest and delight in what is perhaps my favorite movie of all time. The book began with a lot of film critic blather, but then got into some not little tidbits about the filming of the movie, its illogic and lack of concern among the screenwriters with consistency (if you're William Faulkner, you don't have to worry about it!). What I liked the most was the analysis of the book store scenes (apparently the author has written a separate monograph on thi ...more
Patrick McCoy
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
The BFI Film Classics series is great and after watching The Big Sleep I was curious to see what the esteemed David Thompson had to say in his book version for BFI. I was already a fan from The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film. He readily admits that it is his favorite film of all time and he goes on to discuss how the film came about while shedding light about the principal characters. He has done his research on the director Howard Hawks-who seems to have molded Lauren Bacall on his second ...more
Will Tate
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting companion-piece to the film, which Thomson states is his all-time favourite movie. The background to how Howard hawks modelled the young starlet Lauren Bacall on his wife Nancy ("Slim") is fascinating, as is the well-known story of how several scenes in the film, which already bore little resemblance to the original Chandler novel, were re-shot to max up the chemistry between Bacall and Bogart, who by this time were a married couple. But it's the last 10pp that really get to the k ...more
Steve.  g
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think this film, along with The Maltese falcon, To have and have not & Casablanca are not just my favorite Humphrey Bogart films but some of my favorite films fullstop.
This booklet was interesting for how Howard Hawks character (or lack thereof) likes, dislikes and imagination towered over his projects and principals. How he projected himself.
Good for how Marlowe was changed from the page to the screen.
And fascinating how the film makers fused Bogart and Bacall, Marlowe and Vivian.
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