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Daily Dose of Darkness #12: Calling on Four Million Dollars (Opening Scene of The Big Sleep)


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 au contrer......Carmen is a grown up girl.....she knows exactly what she is doing....she is looking for attention....she knows how to get it,.....generally from slimy and lecherous men, much to the chagrin of her daddy....

Carmen may know what she's doing but while physically grown up, mentally/emotionally she is a deeply disturbed person.  The problem with this is that sometimes the depth of the mental illness isn't recognized by a person till it's too late.

 

I agree with Janeko's response here. Carmen might be a woman, physically, but her behavior is bizarre and immature. In the course of the narrative she is drugged and sexually exploited. Her need for male attention is pathological and unhealthy, and it repeatedly puts her and others into dangerous positions. She might be calculating, in her own sick way, but she is undoubtedly disturbed. Chandler wasn't afraid to write female characters who were greedy or amoral--I think it's significant that his last note regarding Carmen is that she is in serious need of psychological help. If she were just a greedy, promiscuous woman, I doubt he'd give her that kind of treatment or sympathy.

 

 

I found it a little odd that he is college educated. That would usually get you a better job than private detective. He can "speak English" when he needs to. There's a bit of cynicism and contempt in that that statement. Does he have regrets? 

 

There's a difference between being smart and being successful. Marlowe is a very smart man, but he doesn't have the tolerance for game-playing and manipulation that you'd need in order to survive in the politically-charged climate of working for the DA.

 

Besides that, Marlowe is very much his own person. Working where he can basically create and enforce his own moral code is much more suited to his personality. He's not the kind of guy who likes taking orders--especially if he considers those orders to be unreasonable or coming from a place of greed or corruption.

 

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Humphrey Bogart seems so comfortable playing these hard-boiled detectives in "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" that one can say he played a role (pun not intended) in the transition of hard-boiled fiction into film noir.  

 

The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" I believe rings true in the first 7 seconds of today's Daily Dose clip. We read how Marlowe described himself in Chandler's novel and I believe director Howard Hawks was able to transforms those words into a short snapshot by zooming in on Marlowe pressing the door bell. That visual of thumb pressing bell, ring on finger glistening, a well-fitted suit sleeve hovering over his wrist- I mean the man looks sharp by that image alone.  Chandler's paragraph  in a snapshot. Brilliant.

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  Speaking of Carmen, she is trying to be all sexy and tempting, but it is way too ham-fisted and over the top.  She is petulant and bratty.  She reminds me a bit of Veda (although she is not nearly as bad as Veda).  Both are trying to be femme fatales, but they’re too young and inexperienced to pull it off.

Nice comparison!  Of course every seasoned femme fatale had to start their character constitution building somewhere.  Reading between the lines I would imagine Vivian Sternwood (Lauren Becall) when she was younger, was no better a role model than her younger sister Carmen is when we meet her in The Big Sleep. Likewise Veda probably didn't have much better influences to chose from either, so we end up with the spoiled, undisciplined young women lacking in the way of character and morals.  Kids!  

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One of the other comments here mentioned Bogie's sharp suit and precise grooming, but all the little details seem to go out the window when Vickers appears. Her over-the-top portrayal is so boldly naughty (dangerous, but not quite noirish) that it's difficult to concentrate on the coolness and collectedness of the shamus. However, once she disappears, the dialogue kicks back into gear with an exchange with the general that would be reminiscent of Gutman in "The Maltese Falcon" if Greenstreet weren't so cartoonishly larger than life (though still entirely amusing).

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Marlowe introduces himself as soon as the butler opens the door kicking things off right out of the box. He next meets Carmen, the younger sister, telling her he's a shamus--a detective. We get down to business right away with Marlowe meeting General Sternwood, the father, in a greenhouse/conservatory, where we learn that Marlowe worked for the DA's office, that he's relatively young (38), educated, and good at his job (listen to all he knows about the Sternwood family). Bogart as Marlowe is confident, self-assured, no nonsense, and full of sharp, witty comments. With these attributes, he is similar to Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, but a little lighter (you get the feeling that could change if the going gets tougher).  This opening is important to film noir in that it has all the necessary elements--B&W presentation, great camera angles and lighting of the characters and their surroundings, and plenty of noir patter.  Once again, we have a film that has music, music, music--mysterious, off-beat, almost cozy drawing us in, making us want to see what comes next.  An altogether great opening to a really good noir movie.

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If I get nothing else from this course, I am seeing clips from some of my favorite films - Love The Big Sleep!  (All kidding aside, I am learning from this course - even more than I expected!)

 

Bogart is Marlowe from the first few seconds of the film.  Hawks tips his hat to the 1st person POV of the novel by not showing us Bogart right off.  Using the camera angle, it seems as if we walk up the sidewalk, read the plate on the door, and ring the bell ourselves.  The next shot is on the other side of the door.  The butler answers the door, we hear Bogart speak - but we do not see his face.  Once his voice is connected with the name "Philip Marlowe", we accept Bogart in this new role.

 

Marlowe is a straight-shooter.  Whereas Spade is leading a life full of secrets (one of them being his involvement with his partner's wife), Marlowe is openly interested in Carmen as soon as he sees her.  When questioned by the general, Marlowe is open and honest about his relation with the D.A.'s office.  He is grateful for the opportunity to take off his coat, smoke, and for the drink.  I like the immediate chemistry and mutual respect between Marlowe and the general.  Marlowe is a man's man, but without the harshness of Spade.

 

The Big Sleep is a great example of film noir.  It relies heavily on the plot, which starts out simply enough.  As it progresses, however, it becomes so convoluted that, even at the end of the film, we're not sure all the loose ends are tied.  And are we really sure Marlowe's gotten the right man?  It's just good entertainment!  For two hours, we've become so involved with Marlowe, we don't mind all the red herrings.  Good writing makes good films - and Chandler is one of the best in the mystery genre.

 

I have to say that from the very start, I hate Carmen Sternwood.  The film needs a femme fatale - but seriously?  Carmen is so obviously obvious - clumsy, almost juvenile.  Anyone else notice the Bette Davis makeup and hairstyle?  She looks like a cheap copy of Miss Julie in Jezebel.  And the playing with her hair in her teeth - yeah, this is a teenager trying to be a grownup.  I like Marlowe's comment, saying she's old enough to be weaned.  As if the shorts  and wedge heels aren't enough of a come-on, she literally throws herself at him.  Marlowe seems to play along.  But does he really?  If the butler hadn't come back into the room, would he have continued the farce with Carmen?  I like to think he would've dropped her to the floor.  Nice to see that later in the film, Marlowe has better taste in women, choosing the definitely higher-caliber dame.  

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The very first scene with Marlow's shadow falling on the Sternwood door is Hawk's nod to the first-person POV. Yet the angle of Marlow's hand reaching for the doorbell is a little bit off from how he himself would've seen it. It appears that the camera was next to Bogart on his right side. But I guess to capture the first-person feel, the camera eye doesn't always have to replicate exactly the view through the character's own eyes, and if it does so for too long, we notice the artificiality, as in LADY IN THE LAKE.

 

That trivial bit out of the way, I see Marlow as a man who's not at all intimidated by the trappings of wealth and high society he's entered into nor by the ways of its peculiar and willfull inhabitants. His calm, clear and self-assured voice is heard first, before the bultler lets him in. He properly doffs his hat (unlike MacPherson in LAURA's opening sequence who isn't comfortable enough in Lydecker's apartment to take off hat and coat). He shows interest in the family crest on the wall, and then plays along with the younger daughter's Lolita-tease without letting it throw him off balance. Carmen's greeting line "You're not very tall, are you?" notwithstanding, the camera makes him appear tall and undiminished by the imposing surroundings (but we know that the filmmakers employed camera technique and platforms to hide Bogie's shortish stature).

 

Marlowe remains sharp and self-assured in the hothouse. He graciously accepts General Sternwood's offer of brandy but with the snappy rejoinder "In a glass" that shows he's not the fancy type. He reveals just enough information about himself to establish good rapport and lets Sternwood know that he's studied the family background and is competent to take the case.

 

In the quoted Hammett excerpt, the precise description of Marlowe's wardrobe serves to convey to the reader his proper and self-assured presence, and the last line with the 4 million dollars tells us that Marlowe has prepared himself to enter into a high-stakes case. Hawks and the film team have convincingly carried that picture over into the movie's opening scene.

 

Comparing Marlowe and Spade, Bogie will of course always be Bogie in any role but here he's smoother and more laid-back, playing Marlow as someone who'll adapt to his surroundings with ease - a valuable detective skill. As Spade he came across as more street-wise and down-and-dirty. So many previous posters have described the difference aptly, I haven't much to add.

 

And finally, the opening scene gives a taste of the rich and juicy dialogue that's in store for us in THE BIG SLEEP!

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Right off the bat he introduces himself to General Sternwood's butler. "My name is Marlowe, General Sternwood wanted to see me."


Marlowe is polite. He has a sense of humor, which he shows to General Sternwood's daughter, who walks down the stairs, all legs and flirting. "good morning." he says


"you're not very tall." she says.  Marlowe tells her his name is Doghouse Reilly." 


He's more polite, and gentler than in his portrayal of Sam Spade, but still has an edginess, a sense of humor, and some smart alecky sarcsm.


This shines in a reply to General Sternwood asking, "How do you like your brandy?"


His reply "In a glass."


Some very Noir elements are, Private Investigator, Marlowe., Possible Femme Fatales as in the daughters mentioned, and one seen.(Carmen)Great writing and dialogue are very noteworthy contributions to Film Noir. Take the General talking to Marlowe about orchids.


"You like orchids?"


"Not Particularly."


"Nasty things, their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, and their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption."


Afterwards Marlowe goes on to reveal some m,ore things about himself, "I'm 38, I went to college, I could still speak English when my business demands. I used to work for the district attorney...." 


Marlowe also does his research, in revealing all he knows about the General and his family.


Great Noir work ,from a great Novel.


 

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Bogart's Marlowe is smoother than his Spade at first appearance. He does radiate a certain dangerous charm, however, and within moments of entering house he's being tempted. When he meets Sternwood he becomes professional and begins to show the type of man he is. At first Marlowe and Spade seem very different but before long you can detect their similarity. Of the two, however, I prefer Spade.

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-- How does this opening sequence establish Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe? What do we learn about Marlowe in these first few moments of the film? 

We learn that he likes women's legs and he dresses somewhat on the casual side. Marlowe is 38 and has worked for the district attorney and got fired for talking back. He does his homework.

 

-- Do you see a difference in Bogart's portrayal of Marlowe compared to his performance as Spade inThe Maltese Falcon?

Bogart plays Marlowe as a somewhat less formal person and down to earth. Marlowe has humor. In the Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade is more formal and dresses better.

 

-- In what ways can the opening of The Big Sleep be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?

At the front door as Marlowe rings the buzzer, we see a dark shadow... something is going to happen, the music also suggests suspense. As the door opens we see Marlowe's angled shadow on the wall.

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Marlowe is a straight-shooter.  Whereas Spade is leading a life full of secrets (one of them being his involvement with his partner's wife), Marlowe is openly interested in Carmen as soon as he sees her.  When questioned by the general, Marlowe is open and honest about his relation with the D.A.'s office.  He is grateful for the opportunity to take off his coat, smoke, and for the drink.  I like the immediate chemistry and mutual respect between Marlowe and the general.  Marlowe is a man's man, but without the harshness of Spade.

 

The Big Sleep is a great example of film noir.  It relies heavily on the plot, which starts out simply enough.  As it progresses, however, it becomes so convoluted that, even at the end of the film, we're not sure all the loose ends are tied.  And are we really sure Marlowe's gotten the right man?  It's just good entertainment!  For two hours, we've become so involved with Marlowe, we don't mind all the red herrings.  Good writing makes good films - and Chandler is one of the best in the mystery genre.

 

I have to say that from the very start, I hate Carmen Sternwood.  The film needs a femme fatale - but seriously?  Carmen is so obviously obvious - clumsy, almost juvenile.  Anyone else notice the Bette Davis makeup and hairstyle?  She looks like a cheap copy of Miss Julie in Jezebel.  And the playing with her hair in her teeth - yeah, this is a teenager trying to be a grownup.  I like Marlowe's comment, saying she's old enough to be weaned.  As if the shorts  and wedge heels aren't enough of a come-on, she literally throws herself at him.  Marlowe seems to play along.  But does he really?  If the butler hadn't come back into the room, would he have continued the farce with Carmen?  I like to think he would've dropped her to the floor.  Nice to see that later in the film, Marlowe has better taste in women, choosing the definitely higher-caliber dame.  

 

Nice post, enjoyed your spot-on description of Marlowe vs. Spade. But I think Marlowe would've been too much of a gentleman to drop Carmen! :-)

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For those looking for different takes on actor's playing Chandler's Philip Marlowe, it would be difficult to find five more disparate interpretations and performances on one character than Bogart's in The Big Sleep, Dick Powell's in Murder My Sweet, Robert Montgomery's in Lady in the Lake, and Robert Mitchum's neo-noirs Farewell My Lovely and The Big Sleep, and Elliott Gould's The Long Goodbye.    

 

Montgomery's is somewhat skewed by the decision to shoot almost all his scenes in the first person POV, with the camera assuming the perspective of Marlowe.   (That's toyed with, briefly, by Hawks, at the very beginning of Bogie's The Big Sleep.)  It's highly questionable whether that device works well for an extended period of time on film, and not having Montgomery/Marlowe visible, on screen, most of the time cleared impacted his performance and our impression of the character.           

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What did you guys think of Marlowe in the Brasher Doubloon, the "lost" Marlowe film??? :lol:

For those looking for different takes on actor's playing Chandler's Philip Marlowe, it would be difficult to find five more disparate interpretations and performances on one character than Bogart's in The Big Sleep, Dick Powell's in Murder My Sweet, Robert Montgomery's in Lady in the Lake, and Robert Mitchum's neo-noirs Farewell My Lovely and The Big Sleep, and Elliott Gould's The Long Goodbye.    

 

Montgomery's is somewhat skewed by the decision to shoot almost all his scenes in the first person POV, with the camera assuming the perspective of Marlowe.   (That's toyed with, briefly, by Hawks, at the very beginning of Bogie's The Big Sleep.)  It's highly questionable whether that device works well for an extended period of time on film, and not having Montgomery/Marlowe visible, on screen, most of the time cleared impacted his performance and our impression of the character.           

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Marlowe appears to be completely laid back but he maintains a sense of professionalism and seriousness when he has to. He seems like a talker, someone who will mix it up with a lady if need be. He appears to be approachable, not super serious and intimidating. Being approachable would be a helpful attribute for a private eye. Women throw themselves at him and he accepts it. The other portrayals of private eyes we've seen were super serious. The job comes first with them. Yes, women salivate over them but they disregard the affection because they see it as a hinderance to completing the job they were asked to do. In The Big Sleep, Marlowe appears flattered at the affection shown to him. He's open to anything that presents itself. He still wants to do the job but he isn't going to say no if other opportunities present themselves.

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We see Marlowe's shadow before we see him. He is dressed appropriately in order to meet a client but doesn't wear anything requiring cufflinks. I interpret this as him hungry for the job, especially after being fired from the DAs office. He walks with a slight swagger, not directly straight. He removes his hat, showing respect and politeness. He comes in, literally "hat in hand" for the job.

 

Through the conversation we learn his age and basically an oral resume. He provides his reference and has researched his client. We know he is business minded, professional when needed but also outspoken to a fault (insubordination). His interaction with Carmen shows he isn't immune to feminine charms but knows someone playing at grown-up when he sees it. Since he mentions there are two daughters, I would say Carmen isn't the entree - she is the appetizer. I also saw her as Chandler possibly either critiquing the genre or distracting us.

 

Marlowe is more direct than Spade. Spade allows things to unfold before speaking; Marlowe, being more direct, speaks first. Spade has walk-in clients. Marlowe has references. I think this not only reflects them, but also the "side of the tracks". Spade's environment is seedier; Marlowe is more estates and debutantes.

 

How is it noir? We have a detective, a case, a dying man, money, heightened music, and two different women. The dialogue and the sexual banter.

 

Can't wait to see the scrape Marlowe gets into, and more importantly how he gets out.

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Nice post, enjoyed your spot-on description of Marlowe vs. Spade. But I think Marlowe would've been too much of a gentleman to drop Carmen! :-)

 

 

Is Marlowe really a gentleman in the true sense of the word?  Not sure he is.   But I get the impression he likes to mix pleasure with business, likes to test limits, and suffers fools in the line of duty.   He clearly disapproves of Carmen's antics...he tells Norris she should be weened, she's old enough...but he's not about to waste time with her in the same way he makes time with her big sister.  

 

I think Marlowe is a very linear guy, moves from A to B to C en route to D, and doesn't like a lot of detours until/unless they're thrown in his path...as they invariably are.   

 

The Big Sleep is possibly my fav movie although Out of the Past would be the number 1 contender if I'd be allowed to promote a title fight... I really had to pay attention during both and still had questions ! It sounds like I should read the book so perhaps I'll look for a bookstore where I can stake out someone (G) and get my hands on a sweet 1st edition (of the 'book', of course) !

 

 

By all means read Chandler's novel, The Big Sleep, but it won't necessarily explain the plot to you.   Chandler never really sorted it out, himself.   But the Hollywood Code made it impossible for Faulkner and Brackett...two top notch writers and scriptwriters... to make sense out of the story because of the sordid subject matter with which pivotal aspects of the plot dealt....drugs, prostitution, pedophilia and pornography on top of the more pedestrian blackmail, gambling, theft and murder.  

 

The 'remake' with Bob Mitchum, re-located and updated to London, is a much more faithful treatment of Chandler's book.   

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What did you guys think of Marlowe in the Brasher Doubloon, the "lost" Marlowe film??? :lol:

 

Haven't seen it yet, it's still a little bit lost :-)

 

But I see it's now out on a Fox on-demand DVD so it's come within reach. Thanks for bringing it up!

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How does this opening sequence establish Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe? What do we learn about Marlowe in these first few moments of the film? 

 

He is professional, more polished than Sam Spade.  He is educated , as he says he attended college.  he is honest about being fired from the DA's office.  He is more accepting of others and I like his personal more than I like Spade.  Marlowe is not phased by the flirtatious daughter.  He seems unimpressed.  As for his meeting the the General, he is forthright and honest with him.  When asked what he knows about the general's family, he rattles it off.  he has done his homework.

 

Do you see a difference in Bogart's portrayal of Marlowe compared to his performance as Spade in The Maltese Falcon?

 

I'll say, what a difference.  Cleaner, not gritty as Spade is.  Forthright and not as secretive as Spade.  Marlowe is also more polished than Spade.

 

In what ways can the opening of The Big Sleep be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?

 

I always struggle with this part of the question.  It brings something different to the table as detectives go.  More up front type of detective.  Professional but not as driven as some of the other detectives we have seen.  Marlowe is more believable, honest and observant.  So I suppose this would seem to be noir evolving.  Moving forward in the development of the characters.  It is like the film makers have discovered that the character does not have to be gritty to be noir.  They can still rely on the shading, lighting and so forth, but the story can be more interesting.  Sure there will be secrets, and a femme fatale but the characters as well as the story lines will have more oomph!

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Is Marlowe really a gentleman in the true sense of the word?  Not sure he is.   But I get the impression he likes to mix pleasure with business, likes to test limits, and suffers fools in the line of duty.   He clearly disapproves of Carmen's antics...he tells Norris she should be weened, she's old enough...but he's not about to waste time with her in the same way he makes time with her big sister.  

 

 

 

Maybe not so much in the usual sense of being chivalrous and entirely unselfish. But he wouldn't do anything crude to offend his host / prospective client. Yes, he sees through Carmen's act and it doesn't raise his temperature, even if he enjoys a couple of covert looks.

 

Looking forward to watching it again!

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There is little doubt that Bogart is Marlowe--he tells us so the first time he opens his mouth. He is uber-confident, but in a smooth way. He clearly has some culture; he tells us he is college educated, and his manner supports it. 

 

I agree with the comments about the hothouse. Clearly it foreshadows the "heat" that Marlowe will find himself in. 

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Hawks comes right to the point when Marlowe introduces himself to the butler and says Col. Sternwood wants to see him. He is direct and up front about his being fired for being too independent. Even if he had not stated it, he is clearly educated and polished, especially compared to Spade, a rough-cut detective in the hard-boiled mold. Marlowe isn't fooled by Carmen's flirting. He shows maturity and humor. Not sure Spade rates highly on the humor scale.

 

Now we have a detective somewhat removed from the criminal edge we've seen in them before. Film Noir is growing up, developing more human character, particularly when using established characters from literature. The film progresses smoothly. Perhaps the audience is maturing also.

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I've read all of Raymond Chandler's novels, so I feel as though I know Marlowe pretty well. I think Bogart portrays him best. He certainly has the dry wit that is evident in the novels and we see this in Marlowe's interaction with Carmen. He's not a man who is easily offended and will play off criticisms as a joke.  Marlowe is also a kind of "no holds barred" type of personality, hence is propensity to be insubordinate toward authoritative figures. I always felt Bogart was the type of man to play by his own rules, and I see this in other roles he plays, too, including in his portrayal of Sam Spade.

 

The initial scene is identical the opening of the novel. He is wearing the power blue suit (well dark) on film on his visit to the Sternwood estate. The music establishes the tone and mood in this scene. It goes from excitement to mysterious. The music had somewhat of a circular effect as though there will be a moment of confusion. The music chimes toward a more cute melody upon Carmen's entrance before going back to its mysterious melody and stopping at Marlowe's introduction to General Sternwood. The sense I get here (though I already know the story both in print and on film) is to establish the theme: things aren't always as they appear.

 

Inside the greenhouse, the stifling heat gets to Marlowe as if to foreshadow his being in "the hot seat" (as he always is with law enforcement). 

 

 

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Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep opens with names: first the name "Sternwood" engraved on the front door, then Humphrey Bogart presenting himself to the butler, then again him giving the General's daughter a wrong name - Doghouse Reilly - and finally reaffirming his true identity to the General as being Philip Marlowe. In the dialogue with the General's daughter he is polite but elusive when talking about himself; in his official meeting with the General himself he's straightforward, as clearly he's there to talk business.

 
I would describe Humphrey Bogart's Philip Marlowe as a chameleon, a hard-boiled detective in its essence that shows a particular hability to readjust himself to the different social occasions where is presence is required: he's polite and gentle when he does his first entrance in the house, he's a clever and yet prudent seducer to the General's daughter willing to play her "game" and he's straight and professional in the discussion with General Sternwood (he has done "his homework" researching about the General's family and statute). We can even bet he's tough enough in dangerous situations and has what it gets to be a good private detective. 
 
I would say that the main difference between Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade is that the latter one plays at the surface; always impetuous and hot-headed, he (re)acts first and then thinks, while Marlowe is more self-conscious and apprehensive, showing a particular kind of sophisticated intelligence and know-how that helps defining him as a more complex hard-boiled private detective.
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  • How does this opening sequence establish Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe? What do we learn about Marlowe in these first few moments of the film?

 

To me, this opening sequence establishes Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe by allowing him to use quick-witted dialogue with General Sternwood’s daughter.

 

The opening sequence also allows Humphrey Bogart’s character (Philip Marlowe) to reveal more background about himself in his dialogue with General Sternwood.

 

To me, Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of Philip Marlowe is an exact match to the opening lines of narration from Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name.

 

  • Do you see a difference in Bogart's portrayal of Marlowe compared to his performance as Spade in The Maltese Falcon?

 

To me, Bogart’s portrayal of Marlowe is more laid back, college educated, loyal to his code of ethics, and defiant.

 

When comparing Bogart’s portrayal of Marlowe to his performance of Spade in the Maltese Falcon, I believe that Bogart was more hard-boiled and cynical in his performance of Sam Spade.

 

To me, Bogart’s portrayal of Sam Spade was based more on a hard-nosed, street educated, tough as nails, and pressed for time detective when compared to Philip Marlowe.

 

  • In what ways can the opening of The Big Sleep be considered an important contribution to the film noir style?

 

I believe that the opening of The Big Sleep can be considered an important contribution to the film noir style because it shows Bogart’s portrayal of a different type of detective that isn’t the normal hard-boiled detective that most people would think of for this style.

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The scene sets up that Marlowe isn't very impressed by his surroundings - he walks in as if he's see a mansion before.  The lighting is typical but what sets his character is that he doesn't use his left hand until the girl faints.  Why - don't know, but we don't see a wedding ring later in the nursery, we see on his right hand he has a signet ring - which may imply he comes from a middle to upper class background.  He doesn't slouch, he has the power suit on, and Marlowe isn't afraid to tell the help that the girl needs to be dealt with.  Finally, in the conversation with the general we now know that Marlowe is highly educated, has worked in the d.a.'s office and that he doesn't put up with anything - hence his leaving the d.a.'s because he was insubordinate to his superior.  He also doesn't sugarcoat it with the general in the knowledge that Marlowe has of the family.  He did his work as any good p.i. would before meeting any and all new clients.

 

One key difference is the that Spade seems to be "sleazy" in how he looks at Brigid, the way he takes the money and just how he carries himself.  As Marlowe he seems to be classier.

 

I think the film is important because Bogart, a very powerful actor on so many levels and from what will be so many films and characters, has the opportunity to play two key detectives from literature and he does them both so different that you don't think for a minute that you are seeing Spade on the screen.  He seems to be a classier type of detective - I think back to Dick Powell's portrayl and that seemed low class on some levels - not in this film - plus, we are being brougt to the general, not them coming to us which has happened in many previous films.

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