Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Big Sleep (1946)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Big Sleep (1946)

In Howard Hawks' classic private detective film:

  • the opening scene of the arrival of private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) at the mansion of General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) where he encountered flirtatious, nymphomaniacal heiress Carmen Sternwood (Martha Vickers) in the hallway where she first taunted: "You're not very tall, are you?" - he gave her his name: "Reilly. Doghouse Reilly" and then called himself a "shamus" to her amusement
  • later, during his hothouse talk with General Sternwood, Marlow described his meeting with Carmen: "She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up"; he was commissioned to break up the troublesome blackmail ring that threatened Sternwood to pay legally-uncollectible gambling debts; he also learned about Sternwood's missing friend and confidant, Sean Regan, who suddenly disappeared a month earlier under mysterious circumstances
  • upon leaving, the scene of Marlowe's acquaintance with Carmen's older, feisty sister Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall) who at first suspiciously cross-examined him: "So you're a private detective. I didn't know they existed, except in books. Or else they were greasy little men snooping around hotel corridors. My, you're a mess, aren't you?"; Marlowe quipped: "I'm not very tall either. Next time, I'll come on stilts, wear a white tie and carry a tennis racket"; when she insulted his manners, he snapped back: "I don't mind if you don't like my manners. I don't like them myself"
Marlowe's Three Early Encounters With Females
Acme Book Shop Proprietess
  • Marlowe's afternoon dalliance (during a rainstorm) with a bookshop proprietor (Dorothy Malone) who removed her eyeglasses and closed early: ("It looks like we're closed for the rest of the afternoon"), and then offered two cups for their drinking; Marlowe couldn't believe the quick transformation, and greeted her with an exaggerated "Hello," before they enjoyed an afternoon dalliance together - suggested by the film's fadeout
  • the famous sexy, innuendo-laden dialogue between Philip Marlowe and Vivian - a metaphoric, horse-racing, over-drinks and cigarettes conversation: (Marlowe: "...Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but, uh...I don't know how - how far you can go." Vivian: "A lot depends on who's in the saddle. Go ahead, Marlowe, I like the way you work. In case you don't know it, you're doing all right"); at the end of their conversation, she provided an answer to the question: "What makes me run?" -- "I'll give you a little hint. Sugar won't work. It's been tried"
  • Marlowe's and Vivian's prank phone call to the police department from his office: (Marlowe: "I hope the Sergeant never traces that call"), and Vivian's observation: "You like to play games, don't you?"
  • the scene of Vivian's direct request for another kiss from Marlowe in a car: "I like that -- I'd like more"
  • the sequence - after the uncovering of the web of secrets, leading up to the murder of kingpin racketeer Eddie Mars (John Ridgely) by his own henchmen when Marlowe forced him to run outside Geiger's house (he shouted vainly: "Don't shoot! It's me, Mars!") where his own men were laying in wait for Marlowe - and he was shot and killed at the doorway (marked by bullet holes)
  • their final clinch after everything had been resolved and the police were being summoned; Marlowe and Vivian were together in the darkened parlor of Geiger's house and awaiting the police's arrival; Vivian appraised the situation and noticed that there was still some unfinished business to take care of with Marlowe; Vivian: "You've forgotten one thing. Me." Marlowe (pulling her to him): "What's wrong with you?" Vivian: (with a smoldering glance) "Nothing you can't fix"

Marlowe and Carmen: Horse-Racing Dialogue

Marlowe's And Vivian's Prank Phone Call to Police

Confronting Vivian About The Link Between Carmen and Sean Regan (Vivian: "You go too far, Marlowe")

Vivian to Marlowe: "I like that -- I'd like more"

Bullets Through Door Killing Racketeer Mars

Vivian to Marlowe: "Nothing you can't fix"


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