LIBRARIAN―You know, you don’t look like a man who would be interested in first editions.
MARLOWE―I collect blondes and bottles, too.
☛ The Big Sleep by Howard Hawks, 1946.
As for the 1946 version that we have been watching all of these years, it is one of the great film noirs, a black-and-white symphony that exactly reproduces Chandler’s ability, on the page, to find a tone of voice that keeps its distance, and yet is wry and humorous and cares. Working from Chandler’s original words and adding spins of their own, the writers (William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett) wrote one of the most quotable of screenplays: It’s unusual to find yourself laughing in a movie not because something is funny but because it’s so wickedly clever. (Marlowe on the “nymphy” kid sister: “She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up.”) Unlike modern crime movies which are loaded with action, “The Big Sleep” is heavy with dialogue–the characters talk and talk, just like in the Chandler novels; it’s as if there’s a competition to see who has the most verbal style. (Roger Ebert, June 22, 1997)
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