Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Big Sleep Review

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It’s time for another classic with Bogart and Bacall! This was still in the pre Godzilla days of cinema and those films were typically pretty intense. There are two genres in particular where classic films really shine. Kaiju adventures and mysteries. This is an example of the latter and it’s definitely a pretty compelling story. There are so many twists here that it can be pretty hard to follow, which also makes it pretty exciting!

Explaining the plot is pretty difficult as it was with the last film. The reason all of the twists and turns continue to lead into the next one so the original plot keeps adapting accordingly. Still, the plot begins with Marlowe heading into a mansion. He’s basically a private detective and he knows the ropes. “The General” hires him to get somebody out of the way…peacefully of course. This man is related to a racket that is blackmailing The General, which may be linked to the guy who ran off with Ms. Mars…or do they call her Brody now?…which may be related to Carmen’s police entanglements that could be why they found a body in the lake, which could have come from the mysterious house on the mountain, which may have something to do with all of the murders that have been occurring. Marlowe was expecting a fairly simple case, but maybe he’s bitten off more than he can chew with this case!

This film really had everything that I could have wanted from a mystery film. There are quite a few suspects and new characters continue to pop up. Marlowe makes for a pretty good detective and the film gets right to the point. It’s around 2 hours and they make sure to squeeze in as much action and suspense as possible. It’s safe to say that I preferred this one to the other film that I saw with the same lead actors. (To Have and Have Not)

Marlowe’s the main character and he is definitely better than your average lead. As I mentioned earlier, he has a lot of experience so he’s basically a pro by this point. He’s always got a witty comeback at the ready and he doesn’t take any sass from anyone. He even manages to block a slap and disarm a guy with ease. Marlowe is essentially invincible for the first half of the film. Unfortunately, he does start to crumble by the second half as he suffers two quick losses faster than the Vikings broke down against the Patriots and Saints this year! It’s a little surprising to see how quickly the tables turn on him, but I suppose that Marlowe is only human. He had to make a mistake sometime and it just happened to occur at a critical time. Through it all, Marlowe is definitely a solid character even if he does fall into the romance trap during the film.

Vivian is the main heroine of the film, although her role is a lot smaller than one would typically expect. She is around a lot to give Marlowe some advice that may or may not be true. She’s always trying to dig up some dirt on what Marlowe knows, but the detective always manages to turn her own words against her. It’s hard to tell whether she’s on his side or with the crooks since she can be rather shady. It’s time to add suspect number one to the list! She does use her romance skills to try and get Marlowe, which tends to work on the leads since it’s one of the only things that they think about. Ah well, retro films do typically have romance so it’s hard to avoid.

Eddie Mars is one of the bigshots and there’s no way that he isn’t guilty of something. The question is…is Eddie Mars The crook or just a crook? It’s hard to tell and he’s also pretty cunning so it’s hard to get any information out of him. He’s got his minions at the ready and he’s fairly powerful in the underground circuits. Messing with him could be pretty dangerous for Marlowe. They have a pretty intense meetup inside of the haunted house where guns are drawn..on multiple occasions!

Never forget that where there’s an Eddie, there is always a Joe! Joe Brody is another big shot and he lacks Eddie’s riches, but he still has enough to get by. He’s quick with a gun and his only mistake is that he likes to open the door without peering through the keyhole or asking “Who is it?” before opening. He gets his own action scene as well so show how tough he can be. We definitely can’t rub him off the list?

Don’t worry, it’s time for another gun wielding suspect in the form of Carmen Sternwood! Most of the problems are centered around her so it’s entirely possible that she is just orchestrating the entire thing. Her first scene is her trying to win Marlowe over and almost succeeding. She’s typically pretty high or emotionally unstable so it’s tough to get a read on her. With a gun..anything is possible here. We certainly can’t rule her out and she wasn’t a good character anyway. She does have her own personal minion though..so she is not as innocent as she seems.

Bernie is Marlowe’s friend who happens to be a cop. Wouldn’t it be a big twist if it was actually the really nice cop? Sure, but it may be a bit of a stretch to assume that it’s him. Of course, that could just be what I want you to think! He’s a pretty cool guy and he does send a few veiled threats at Marlowe to keep the hero honest. This guy’s one of the few people who can stand up to the hero at all!

This film does have a little more music than you would expect from the average 40’s film. I still don’t really remember any of the themes after watching it, but it’s better than nothing. This film has a decent amount of action since we get quite a few gunfights and even a quick hand to hand beatdown. There is some romance, but it’s not a whole lot so you should live.

One thing about the old films that can be amusing to see is how smart everyone is. It’s almost like every character is a genius. Not in an academic sense, but in a practical one. All of them know not to say too much and how to say it. They are all familiar with tricking the police and talking in very cryptic ways. Even breaking a code is not very tough for the main character. It’s interesting to say the least. At least this means that the hero knows how to get the jump on the villains to wrestle the gun away from them.

Overall, This was a pretty solid mystery. The writing was good and the pacing was very quick. There were many twists and even I would likely still wonder about some scenes by the end. All of the names just kind of blend together after a while and it’s hard to read the writing in such small print when they go to show the evidence. The film’s one weakness aside from the romance would likely be that they could have made the ending a little clearer. Give us some closure instead of abruptly ending. Either way, that’s good since the film will keep you guessing. It’s hard not to root for Marlowe since he’s just so great at being a detective. He really fears no one and he just continues to talk back to everyone that he meets. I highly recommend this film if you have been yearning to check out an old mystery and there is also some action to keep you interested in what’s happening. Let’s also not forget the haunted house atop the hill. This could end up as the best 1940’s film of all time! (A true feat to be sure)

Overall 7/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

To Have and Have Not Review

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It’s time for a really retro film! This one came out in the 40s so this was even before the Godzilla days. Actually…even I wasn’t born way back then! (Believe it or not!) I tend to enjoy these classic films since they really did a good job with the writing back then. The characters are typically a lot more enjoyable and the gun fights tended to be more entertaining than the modern ones. Classic films have their weaknesses as well so it’s not all up, but they can hold their own. Was this film a true classic or was it the next Lord of the Rings? It’s time to find out!

Germany has taken France down for the count at the start of the film. There is only a small resistance movement left and they’re badly outnumbered and outgunned. These guys seem to have no chance and a hostile tension fills the land. The story follows Steve, a professional fisherman. He’s an American and that means that he’s in less danger than most of the other characters. He keeps reminding the Germans to watch out for Uncle Sam. (Not in those words, but he does mention his rights and threatens to call the Americans at one point) The French want Steve to transport a political figure from an area across the sea back to his hotel. Steve decides not too, but a woman by the name of Marie arrives and things start to get chaotic for the heroes. The french did not listen to Steve and they arrive only to be shot down. The villains decide to mess with Steve and Marie since they’re suspects and they steal all of Steve’s money. This results in Steve deciding to take the job as well as the fact that the villains were messing with Marie. Will Steve be able to make a difference in this war?

It’s a crude analysis of the plot, but that’s because it’s very plot heavy. Every scene leads into the next one and while the film is only 2 hours, you could say that there are 4-5 segments of the film. The plot continues to twist and turn as the film goes on and it’s hard to know where to draw the line. After all, you don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen and the actual plot for the film at certain points can become spoilers. It’s tricky and I figured that I would just dodge that part by giving the basic overview of the plot. Pretty ingenius eh? Well I try…

Is Steve a good main character? The lead is pretty crucial in a film like this since he’ll be getting a whole bunch of screentime. Only 3-10 minutes of the film take place without him and maybe even less than that. On one hand, Steve is the kind of guy that you want on your side. He’s very brave and he doesn’t back down to anyone. He talks back to the Germans, the French, etc. Nobody talks to Steve the wrong way if he has anything to say about it. He also makes sure to defend his friends so anyone who messes with them has to mess with him. Those are the positive qualities for Steve and it’s why I can safely say that he’s a dependable main character.

On the other hand, Steve does get heavily involved in the romance plot. He’s pretty easily wooed by the main heroine although he keeps his composure and uses insults to try and trick her into thinking that he doesn’t want her around. “Don’t get the wrong idea…..I’m not doing this for you….I’m doing it for me!” is the kind of thing that you can expect him to say. It’s definitely hard to tell at some points whether he is really as calm and collected as he appears or not since Marie really gets to him at times. I could do without the romance and I’m sure that you’ve already heard this in my older reviews. Still, Steve ended up being a good character.

Eddie is Steve’s main assistant on the ship. He used to be a pretty good guy according to Steve, but now he’s always drunk. The beer has already damaged him both physically and mentally. It’s too bad since you get the sense that he could have been a pretty likable guy back in the day. He’s still fairly nice, but he has a really short term memory and he is completely addicted to beer. It’s one of the only things that he thinks about in life. He’ll still stand by Steve until the bitter end, but he’s a shell of his former self. He’s certainly an amusing character though and he’s not quite as annoying as a modern version of him would be. Basically, Eddie was still a good character.

Marie is the main heroine of the film. We never get a full glimpse into her origin, but perhaps it is for the best. Why dwell on the past right? She starts out as a petty thief who uses people to get money, but she decides to go straight when she meets Steve. It’ll be dangerous, but the journey is worth it for the goal at the end of the road. She does jump start the whole romance angle, but I suppose that it was inevitable. We still had some nice banter between her and Steve at one point where they kept trying to provoke the other person. (Remember when people actually used the word sore instead of upset? That’s one “slang” term that died out pretty early on) The character development was really good for Marie though and she’s a much better character at the end of the film than at the beginning. It’s always good to see an example of character development helping someone since it has a tendency to have the opposite effect.

We had some other supporting characters, but they weren’t very memorable for the most part. “Frenchie” was constantly getting Steve into trouble, but it was for a good cause I suppose. The other members of the rebellion were not so great though and the big shot that Steve had to transport turned out to not be very great by the end. It’s safe to say that I was expecting a lot more out of him. The main villain is pretty fat and almost endearing, but not quite. It’s what I would expect so I give the film a thumbs up there.

There is not much of a soundtrack so the film scores a 0 there, but most old films didn’t have many solid themes playing. The simple reason that explains this is the fact that rock music wasn’t really around at the time. The writing is the film’s main strength. The dialogue is just first rate as you would expect and it’s mainly thanks to Steve since he gets about 90% of the cool lines in the film. The others help though and this is how you make a script!

Overall, This was a pretty solid film. The film is under 2 hours, but it’ll still feel like it has a longer runtime since so much happens in that time period. Most of it won’t even feel like filler since something is usually happening in the shadows. Steve is an example of a character who talks tough and gets dragged into romance, but still manages to be 1000X cooler than someone like James Bond. I definitely recommend this film if you’re looking for a solid dialogue film or if you want to see something involving the Germans from back in the day. The French are on the losing side in this film, but at least we know that things will get better once America jumps in. America definitely gets its props here and that’s always fun to see. There is some brief action in the film as well so that helps the film as well. Is this the best 40’s film that I’ve seen? It’s certainly possible! (I’ll just have to check which other films I’ve seen from this decade!)

Overall 6/10