Sleeping the Big SleepFriday, January 03, 2020
Both my Rosemary and I in our little dúplex in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver have this fear of becoming addicted to the films of Netflix or any of the other made-to-be streamed films in other channels. So we watch Rachel Maddow sometimes and like the random finding of classic movies of TCM.
Now we have a problem. We have become addicted to sitting in our living room with our two cats, Niño and Niña, to watch at the comfortable Vancouver time of 9pm, Eddie Muller’s TCM Noir Alley on Saturday.
He is a knowledgeable and affable gentleman who hosts the series and brings lots of pleasant information before the film begins and right after.
Tomorrow Saturday it will be The Big Sleep with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. It is a 1946 noir film directed by Howard Hawks. It is my hope that the film we will see will be this one mentioned in Wikipedia:
Parts of the original, unreleased 1945 cut were significantly rescripted and shot to take advantage of the public's fascination with "Bogie and Bacall". A copy of the 1945 version was restored and released in 1997.
To me film noir has a special significance since at my age of 77 I can state that I have read all that Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler wrote. These two led me to discover Jerome Charyn, Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy. I had the good fortune of meeting them and taking their portraits.
|Jerome Charyn, James Ellroy, Elmore Leonard - Photographs Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
For anybody who has seen The Big Sleep many times (I have) it is irrelevant to figure out who killed whom. It has been written about Chandler that the process is what is important.
As a lover of cool jazz from the time I was 20 I have associated it with Chandler and the rest of the hard-boiled. I particularly recomend the CD Charlie Haden's Quartet West in Angel City
Here is Red Wind
One of my finest pleasures is to read the first paragraphs and the last of any book I may want to buy. Here is The Big Sleep:
It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid-October, with the sun not shining and the look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder blue suit, with dark shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now. Far more a part of it than Rusty Ragan was. But the old man didn’t have to be. He could lie quietly in his canopied bed, with his bloodless hands folded on the sheet, waiting. His heart was a brief, uncertain murmur. His thoughts were as grey as ashes. And in a little while he too, like Rusty Regan, would be sleeping the big sleep.
On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple of double Scotches. They didn’t do me any good. All they did was make me think of Silver Wig, and I never saw her again.
The scanned page is from my red leatherete collection of Raymond Chandler's novels, Heron Books, 1981. The illustration is by Paul J. Crompton.