Sunday, July 22, 2018

Falling for Philip

I’ve watched the 1946 Humphrey Bogart film version of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep on more than a few occasions. But until recently, I’d only ever seen the 1978 remake starring Robert Mitchum one time, shortly after its U.S. big-screen debut. I had enjoyed Mitchum’s appearance as private eye Philip Marlowe in 1975’s Farewell, My Lovely, but my memory of his work in The Big Sleep—with the story’s location moved, for some godforsaken reason, to Britain—was considerably less rosy. A second watching failed to improve my opinion of the flick much, though I think Mitchum did an OK job, and Candy Clark’s portrayal of nymphomaniac daughter Carmen Sternwood (unnecessarily renamed Camilla in the ’78 version), was positively disturbing—which was of course exactly her intent.

With tomorrow bringing what would have been author Chandler’s 130th birthday, I decided one small way to honor his memory and to acknowledge my long-overdue second viewing of Mitchum’s The Big Sleep was to compare here one of my favorite scenes from both flicks. Notice in the first, Bogart clip that Chandler’s line about Marlowe being tall had to be modified to fit Bogie’s 5-foot-8 stature. Mitchum’s 6-foot-1 height better matched the original description.

WATCH MORE:Marlowe Goes to the Movies,” by J. Kingston Pierce (The Rap Sheet).


teeritz said...

I've always loved the '74 version of "Farewell My Lovely", and lately, I've wondered what it would have been like if Mitchum had done a bunch of Marlowe films in the 1950s, when he was younger.
Mind you, I wouldn't have knocked back Bogart as Marlowe in a few more films either.
The "Big Sleep" remake made no sense to me (doesn't stand a chance against Hawks' version, not by a mile), and I really find it hard to sit through Altman's "The Long Goodbye".
Call me old fashioned.

Art Taylor said...

I haven't seen the Mitchum version in years, but..... wow. Even looking at that one scene, and that over-the-top performance as "Camilla" Sternwood.... yikes.

Steve Aldous said...

I liked Mitchum's portrayal of Marlowe in Farewell, My Lovely and again in The Big Sleep, but the modernisation and re-setting of the latter movie robbed it of any atmosphere... and Michael Winner was no Howard Hawks. Winner's version felt like an anachronism. Updating Chandler has never worked satisfactorily. His language and style belong in the time the stories were written. Dick Richards understood this and hence his version of Farewell, My Lovely was much more successful.