[Raymond Chandler] The Big Sleep

  • Title: The Big Sleep
  • Author: Raymond Chandler
  • Published: 1939

[Movie] The Big Sleep (1946)

  • Directed by: Howard Hawks
  • Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers

What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on the top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.

from the book

The Big Sleep” is a hardboiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler published in 1939. You might be more familiar with its film adaptation (1946) by Howard Hawks. Humphrey Bogart set the image of the main protagonist, Philip Marlowe – a private detective -.

Marlowe is a new type of detective, far different from Sherlock Holmes or Poirot. He does not think. He lacks manners and does not even stick to the social norms. He is an actor in the middle of a crime. He does not solve mysteries. Rather, the event evolves around him and unfolds in itself.

It is strange that the novel, which was written from a stereo-typed male perspective, can be read enjoyably without feeling offensive. Writing from the first-person perspective, the author maintains the balance of Marlowe’s weaknesses – emotional, non-sociable, self-centered, and reckless – and strengths – intuitive, sarcastic, and sympathetic -.

The movie adaptation has its pros and cons as well. In general, the movie follows the storyline well, except for the intricate link between Marlowe and the police, which is not portraited well, and the love relation between Vivian and Marlowe, which is over-exaggerated.

I really recommend reading a book first. The movie can be good entertainment afterward.

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