The Big Sleep

the-big-sleep-1978-kat-720p-cover

The Big Sleep 1978 poster

Recently I watched the 1978 film remake of the Big Sleep. There has probably been a bigger waste of acting talent than that squandered by Michael Winner but nothing comes to mind.

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Bogart as Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Sternwood Rutledge in Howard Hawkes 1946 film of the Big Sleep.

The original 1946 version starring Humphrey Bogart and  Lauren Bacall was obviously made at a time nearer that of the novel, (published 1939). Raymond Chandler’s novels like the Sherlock Holmes stories of Conan Doyle occupy a particular time and place, in my opinion, this is, even more, the case with Chandler.

Setting the action of the Big Sleep in 1970s England didn’t work for me. In the Big Sleep, Chandler’s writes of Los Angeles, Hollywood, California and America at a time before it was touched by war, in the aftermath of Prohibition during the dying embers of the Depression. His novels are steeped in that sense of time and place. The characters who populate his stories are products of this period and like some fine wines, they do not travel well.

Get Carter

Michael Caine as Carter

A similar situation but travelling geographically in the opposite direction was the remake of Get Carter. Set originally in 1970’s Newcastle with Michael Caine playing Carter the 2000 remake with Sylvester Stallone in the title role was a poor shadow of the original. Get Carter was as was the Big Sleep comfortable in its own time and place the lack of Geordie accents didn’t diminish its quality. Stallone’s outing couldn’t and didn’t match Caine’s London hard man. Caine was totally credible, it is, in my opinion, the best ever British crime film.

Chandler’s only novel not to be made into a film. Playback is set in the early fifties and a different part of California. I hope it will find its way onto the silver screen, set in its correct time and place.

No copyright claimed for images used.

3 responses to this post.

  1. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” (according to L.P. Hartley).
    Trying to impose the present on to events (or stories, or legends) of the past is seldom successful. (Althugh to be honest, I’ve always felt that Caine was a wooden, one-character sort of actor, from Alfie to the Italian Job. He only ever played Michael Caine. (Although I can’t fault him in the Muppets Christmas Carol, “singing” notwithstanding.)

    Reply

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