"She had long thighs and she walked with a certain something I hadn’t often seen in bookstores."
— Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
aunted by John McFetridge's comment about voice and story
here at Detectives Beyond Borders and consumed by desire to revisit the greatest mutton-fat simile in American crime writing
, I read The Big Sleep
again on Saturday.
McFetridge wrote "I think voice is really important in a story but not as important as the story," which sounds at once reasonable and at odds with the wisecracking American P.I. tradition that Raymond Chandler perfected for eternity. So I kept my eye on story this time, and McFetridge was right. The pathos of the story and the depth of the Sternwood family's pride and self-delusion get more affecting each time I read The Big Sleep
|Martha Vickers as Carmen|
Sternwood in The Big Sleep's
The novel also increased my wonder at Howard Hawks' celebrated 1945 and 1946 film adaptations. Aside from minor details of hair color and such, the performers — and the cast is a strong one — are dead ringers for Chandler's versions of them. And the movie's additions either are plausible extrapolations from the novel (the racy horse-racing dialogue between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart) or good, solid action in their own right (the end of Eddie Mars). My guess is that the former is due to the movie's writers, who included Leigh Brackett and William Faulkner, and the latter to director Howard Hawks.
Oh, and the novel's plot is less confusing than the movie's, if that matters.
© Peter Rozovsky 2015
Labels: Howard Hawks, Humphrey Bogart, John McFetridge, Lauren Bacall, Leigh Brackett, Martha Vickers, movies, Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, William Faulkner