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The Big Sleep (BFI Film Classics)

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0851706320
ISBN-10: 0851706320
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is the first book-length consideration of the classic 1946 movie The Big Sleep and the first published book to compare it to the 1945 cut of the movie, which has been restored and released. David Thomson discusses the making of the film as well as the careers and romance of its stars, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. He also looks into the psyches of its director and screenwriters. Thomson beautifully describes a classic in progress, tracking "the way in which fantasizing, power plays, and maneuver affected the making of the film." Along the way, Thomson meditates about why The Big Sleep has attained its mythic status and why it continues to move him so powerfully.

Review

"Superb . . . by the world's greatest film critic."--"The Guardian
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: British Film Institute (March 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0851706320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851706320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.2 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,452,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
David Thomson is arguably the most gifted writer on the cinema -- his "Biogrpahical Dictionary of Film" one of the subject's most valued reference guides. Singling out Howard Hawks' film version of Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" as the most entertaining movie ever made is clearly a bold move on Thomson's part, but his arguments are steadfast and persuasive. Anyone choosing to read this work will emerge with a deeper understanding of the great detective film and an irresistable desire to see it again as soon as possible.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The BFI Film Classics series is great and after watching The Big Sleep I was curious to see what the esteemed David Thompson had to say in his book version for BFI. I was already a fan from The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film. He readily admits that it is his favorite film of all time and he goes on to discuss how the film came about while shedding light about the principal characters. He has done his research on the director Howard Hawks-who seems to have molded Lauren Bacall on his second wife Nancy "Slim" Hawks (who is a sophisticated looking lady who seems to have been blessed with with according to legend). Furthermore, he talks around the plot and goes into detail about how the studio wanted more Bogey & Bacall and sacrificed exposition for it and it worked! Thompson talks about what a "happy" film it is, but I agree with him and was attracted to all the alluring females that throw themselves in Bogey path throughout the film, which Thompson suggests reflects Hawks' reputation as a lady's man. I enjoyed the book, but I don't think it would appeal to anyone looking for a close critical reading of the film.
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Format: Paperback
Everything David Thomson writes is interesting, and he is a master stylist, but this is one of his lesser works. It is more like a short think piece than a robust book. It is very short, very lyrical, and worth (just) the price of admission. In many ways it is more of an essay on Lauren Bacall than on Bogart. I think Thomson overplays the differences between Chandler's Marlowe and Bogart's -- a good example of the "bitter witnessing hero on the streets" motif is the little Harry Jones scene (with the immortal Elisha Cook, Jr.) where the little man sacrifices himself in a nothing room in the middle of nowhere for a nothing woman. What is this if not Philip Marlowe's world?
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