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Trivia / The Big Sleep

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The Big Sleep (the original book)

The Big Sleep (1946 film)

  • Actor-Inspired Element: Philip Marlowe's habit of feeling his earlobe while in deep thought was something Humphrey Bogart incorporated from his own behavior.
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains: #32 Hero, Philip Marlowe
  • Completely Different Title: In Sweden, the film was called Utpressning, meaning "Blackmail". So is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail, causing some confusion.
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  • Dawson Casting: Marlowe is 33 in the book, and Bogart was 45 when he shot the film, but the line establishing Marlowe's age is changed to 38 to put it more within the realm of credibility.
  • Deleted Scene: In re-cutting the film, Howard Hawks removed the scene in which Marlowe explains the crimes. The film's success supported his growing conviction that audiences didn't care if a plot made sense as long as they had a good time.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Dorothy Malone was making her film debut and was so nervous at sharing the scene with Humphrey Bogart that they had to weight the liquor glass to keep her hands from shaking.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • A first version of the film adaptation was completed in 1945 but its release was postponed. Meanwhile Lauren Bacall's performance in her first film after her debut in To Have and Have Not, Confidential Agent, stunk up the room. Noting similar issues with her performance in several key scenes in The Big Sleep, Jack Warner authorized (under the suggestion of Bacall's agent) that several scenes be re-shot and others added to try and recapture more of the To Have and Have Not chemistry. And it worked.
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    • Censorship guidelines coupled with the need to make the film a romance of sorts and to provide a second billing for Lauren Bacall meant quite bit of the material had to be altered from the original novel. Chandler notes that many of Martha Vickers' scenes ended up on the cutting room floor - because she ended up outshining Lauren in their scenes together - and this resulted in Carmen abruptly disappearing at the end of the second act.
    • Jack L. Warner got into a big argument with the agent of Sonia Darrin, who played Agnes. It got so heated that the agent and his clients were banned from the lot. He couldn't cut Agnes's scenes, because they were too important to the plot, so he ended up refusing to credit her instead.
  • Hey, It's That Place!: The entrance to the Sternwood mansion was later used in Mildred Pierce.
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  • Non-Singing Voice: Averted. Despite rumours that Andy Williams dubbed Lauren Bacall's singing, both Howard Hawks and the actress herself insisted she did her own singing. The same rumours dogged Lauren for To Have and Have Not too.
  • The Other Marty: Pat Clark was the original actress for Mona Mars. But when the studio had her scene re-shot to improve Lauren Bacall's performance, she was unavailable, so Peggy Knudsen was cast as Mona instead.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Martha Vickers had just started acting and was appearing as a Distressed Damsel in Universal horror films. Howard Hawks bought her contract upon seeing a glamorous photo of her - and cast her as the Fille Fatale Carmen.
    • Bob Steele, who played Canino, was known for westerns at that point. He was ecstatic to star in something current for a change.
  • Romance on the Set:
    • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married during the filming of the movie; they had been working together for some time, but The Big Sleep was their first film as a married couple.
    • Howard Hawks also became involved with writer Leigh Brackett, who was hired to work on this film.
  • Scully Box: Humphrey Bogart had to wear platform shoes to appear taller than his two leading ladies, Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers.
  • The Shelf of Movie Languishment: The film was completed in 1944, but the studio shelved it in order to get through their backlog of war movies before WWII ended. This proved to be a very good thing. Before it was released in 1946, scenes were added to capitalize further on the obvious on-screen chemistry of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
  • Shrug of God: Even Raymond Chandler had no idea who killed the chauffeur.
    "They sent me a wire...asking me, and dammit I didn't know either."
  • Those Two Actors: This was the second of four films that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together.
  • Throw It In!:
    • In the book, there isn't any hint of attraction between Marlowe and the lady bookseller. Howard Hawks was so taken by Dorothy Malone's natural sexuality that he made the scene Hotter and Sexier.
    • Howard Hawks claimed that the famous horseracing conversation between Marlowe and Vivian came about because all the re-shoots were forcing him to miss a horse race in Santa Anita.
  • Trolling Creator: Lauren Bacall claimed that Jack L Warner sent them a memo saying "Word has reached me that you are having fun on the set. This must stop".
  • Tuckerization: Mars's henchmen are named Sydney and Peter, after Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.
  • Uncredited Role: Julius Epstein made uncredited contributions to the screenplay.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: It was this by the time it was released. It was shot during the Second World War, but delayed so that Warner Bros. could release a lot of war films hurriedly. Pictures of Franklin D Roosevelt are on display in various places, there's a female taxi driver (when most of the men were fighting in the war) and a lot of period dialogue. There's lots of references to wartime rationing too - the dead bodies are called "red points", which is what meat was referred to during rationing. Marlowe's car also has a B gasoline rationing sticker on the window, indicating he was essential to the war effort and would be allowed eight hours of gasoline a week.
  • What Could Have Been: A planned ending would have Carmen trying to fake suicide with what she believes is an empty gun - only to discover it was loaded. Another would have her confess her crimes and walk into an ambush by gangsters. The final ending was to have Marlowe decide on the basis of a coin toss, to walk out of the house and into an ambush. The resulting ending where Eddie Mars gets shot by his own gangsters was suggested by the Production Code committee when they objected to the violence of the previous ending.

The 1978 Remake:


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