The Big Sleep (1978)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Big Sleep Photos

Movie Info

Based on Raymond Chandler's novel, this remake of Howard Hawks' 1946 classic film noir detective story (which starred Humphrey Bogart) inexplicably moves the story's setting from Los Angeles to London. In this 1978 version, directed by Briton Michael Winner, Robert Mitchum plays Philip Marlowe. In the story, Marlowe flies to London, hired by a wealthy but disabled retired military man, General Sternwood (James Stewart), to find out who is blackmailing his daughters, and why. In unraveling this complex mystery, he witnesses a murder, constantly stumbles across corpses, runs afoul of the police and underworld gangs, and slowly begins to appreciate the extent of the decadence of his client's children. This all-star production was coldly received by the critics, who could not fail to compare it to the (much better) Hawks original.
Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
United Artists

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Robert Mitchum
as Philip Marlowe
Sarah Miles
as Charlotte Sternwood
Richard Boone
as Lash Canino
Oliver Reed
as Eddie Mars
Candy Clark
as Camilla Sternwood
Joan Collins
as Agnes Lozelle
Edward Fox
as Joe Brody
John Mills
as Inspector Carson
James Stewart
as Gen. Sternwood
Harry Andrews
as Butler Norris
Colin Blakely
as Harry Jones
Richard Todd
as Barker
Diana Quick
as Mona Grant
James Donald
as Inspector Gregory
John Justin
as Arthur Geiger
Simon Turner
as Karl Lundgren
Martin Potter
as Owen Taylor
David Savile
as Rusty Regan
Nik Forster
as Croupier
Joe Ritchie
as Taxi Driver
Derek Deadman
as Man in Bookstore
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Critic Reviews for The Big Sleep

All Critics (3)

Unnecessary but still enjoyable color remake.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The problem with the film, more than anything, is getting beyond the idea of it not being Bogie and Bacall up there on the screen.

Full Review… | July 16, 2008
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Robert Mitchum's wry and worldly depiction of Marlowe, an intrepid detective, carries the movie.

Full Review… | January 24, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for The Big Sleep


It's interesting to compare this version with what will eventually be called Bogart/Bacall. Not only is there a change in acting styles but also in the view points the movies express on practically everything. I prefer the remake to the original, that is for certain. The original was produced during a period in American history where there was optimism in modernity and that the government could solve all of the nation's problems whereas the remake was produced during a period of when the nation was searching for a recovery from the nation's ills, but still greatly pessimistic. Both attitudes were undoubtably cultivated by their respective medias and often to cross purposes. The reason for bringing up what seems like something completely extraneous is that those overwhelming societal attitudes and the need for commercial films to be a part of them, is what colors both films. Unfortunately for the original, the societal attitudes prevailing at the time of its making are not apropos to the film's storyline. Bogart and Bacall, always optimistic, and delivering their lines with the great relish that can be the product only of a fawning, patronizing industry that so over indulged it's stars, like geese being prepared for fois gras production, that all of their actions seem either ridiculous or villainous in light of the events of the story surrounding them. And the story does surround them, or they the story. I don't think that Michael Winner, the brilliant director that he is, could have gone back in time to rectify the faults in the mess Bogart/Bacall created. What Winner had to work with is an actor who successfully made the transition from the histrionic acting style prevalent in the '30's and '40's to the more realism based style adhered to today. I couldn't sanctify Mitchum though, at times he seems too laconic, and maybe someone like Jack Nicholson would have been a better choice what with his very good job in Polanski's Chinatown. Winner is the perfect choice for director of this depressing story from pot boiler writer Raymond Chandler. Chandler suffered the same faults as Bogart/Bacall; being unable to see what he was doing and thinking only of where what he was doing would put him. So what Winner has done is to take his own '70's recessional attitude and bring out the great negativity in a story that was written by Chandler as the kind of novel you'd buy at a bus stop, read on the bus, chuck in the garbage when you got to your destination and walk away feeling good about the whole experience and not remembering anything else about it. Besides Mitchum, the rest of the cast is pretty good too. I'm sad to write that Jimmy Stewart didn't make it, neither the transition to Hollywood's new style of acting nor does his character, sort of. In his scenes with Stewart, Mitchum's reverence for the aging Stewart shows through a bit, and maybe Mitchum should have let his guard down more during some of the more shocking scenes. I guess it depends on your priorities, time, money, or what you hold dear, in deciding which version to watch.

Naomi Gonzalostein
Naomi Gonzalostein

A well done update of the story, reset for no obvious reason in London. Mitchum is very good as Marlowe. The complex story is slightly less murky than in the earlier version starring Bogart.

David Duncan
David Duncan

Thoroughly underwhelming

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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