The Big Sleep

I wrote this review for my review of the 44th Sydney Film Festival. We saw the film as part of a Howard Hawks retrospective, and so got to see how it fitted in to the rest of Hawks' work:

'This was a real treat. We get to see a version of The Big Sleep that we've not seen before, and then we get to wallow in the differences between the two versions - one from 1945 and one from 1946. The 1945 version we'd not seen before was certainly easier to follow plot-wise than the 1946 version. But that's hardly the point of the film, is it? Even in the "more sensible" version, I still left the theatre going "yeah, but if X killed Y, who killed Z?". Again, we were lucky to have Robert Gitt introducing the screening, and explaining the changes, and reading some of the correspondence involved. Letters from Darryl F Zanuck were most elegant and entertaining. It's not a great film, but it sure is fun to watch! That's what true stars can do for a film'.

Some weeks on, having reflected on the two versions, I find that I still think the best and most interesting scene in the film is the scene with the very young Dorothy Maguire, who almost steals the whole film from the two stars when she seduces Bogart in the most sexually liberated manner. Now that's pretty typical of Hawksian women, who are usually pretty forward, and go for what they want. But, of course, this was filmed during World War 2, when men were in short supply, and a girl had to go for what she wanted if she could get it. So I love the way that this sexy little scene also has a social significance in the development of feminism!