“…sexist, boring, and made a hero out of regular dude.”
The Big Sleep is one of the quintessential Noir films ever made. It stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe as he— well there’s a murder, right? And then someone else dies I think. And then there are a lot of guns. Oh, and every woman falls in love with him.
I’m going to be honest, I can’t make heads or tails of this fucking movie. I understand that it’s a “masterpiece” or whatever the fuck, but it just didn’t do it for me. In my opinion when you make a mystery film you can go about it one of two ways: You can make the mystery the focus and have the audience follow along, or you can have interesting characters. The Big Sleep did neither of these things.
The mystery itself was so convoluted and took place almost entirely within conversations had between characters which made it almost impossible to follow. The character names were confusing and weird (seriously, why was nobody named something simple like ‘John’?), and half of them only get introduced when it’s their ‘turn’ I the mystery which means you have no fucking way of putting this shit together in your head before Humphrey Bogart lovingly tells you who did it.
And in terms of characters The Big Sleep had very little to offer as well. People were constantly on the edge of morality with their leanings being very ambiguous. This is fine if the audience is trying to figure out the crime, but we already know that was fucking impossible. So what we got were these strange, half-baked performances from most of the cast; and I say ‘most’ because some of the performances were good but unfortunately not good enough to save the movie.
The only enjoyable part was watching Humphrey Bogart, a very basic guy, having to beat women off with a stick (or should I say an open hand). Seriously, there was not one woman in this film who didn’t want to get into his geriatric pleats. It became like a joke almost, although I doubt that was the intention.
And speaking of jokes, the dialogue was fucking weird. I understand that Noir films are almost a satire of movies with characters saying what’s on their mind instead of what the audience is used to, but this was such an early iteration that the dialogue felt stilted. There were moments with one-liners that made you confused as to whether or not they were actually jokes or just the common opinions of the time.
Honestly The Big Sleep is exactly what you’d expect from a Noir film. It was sexist, boring, and made a hero out of regular dude. It’s no wonder these movies were so fucking popular in the 40’s.
I give The Big Sleep a C