Advertisement

The Big Sleep: Howard Hawks’s Hollywood Fantasy

  • Nathaniel DeyoEmail author
Chapter
  • 8 Downloads
Part of the Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television book series (CRFT)

Abstract

This chapter focuses on staging and découpage in Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep, showing the ways in which Hawks pushes “classical” formal principles of balance and elegance to something like their limits, imbuing the film with a practically mannerist aestheticism in the process. Linking these aesthetic a formal choices to the film’s production history, it shows how Hawks and his collaborators worked to strip much of the hard-boiled realism from Raymond Chandler’s original novel in order to transform the story into the basis for a romantic fantasy starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I go on to show that the presentation and elaboration of this fantasy is highly self-conscious, its very smoothness and formal perfection calling attention to its constructed and fabricated nature, and its distance from anything resembling “ordinary” life.

References

  1. Bogdanovich, Peter. 1997. Who the Devil Made It. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  2. Cavell, Stanley. [1978] 2005. What Becomes of Things on Film? In Cavell on Film, ed. William Rothman, 87–107. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. [1983] 2005. The Thought of Movies. In Cavell on Film, ed. William Rothman, 87–107. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. [1985] 2005. A Capra Moment. In Cavell on Film, ed. William Rothman, 135–145. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chandler, Raymond. [1939] 1992. The Big Sleep. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  6. ———. [1953] 1988. The Long Goodbye. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  7. Klevan, Andrew. 2011. Expressing the In-Between. LOLA, Issue 1. http://www.lolajournal.com/1/in_between.html
  8. Mast, Gerald. 1984. Howard Hawks: Storyteller. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. McCarthy, Todd. 2000. Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  10. McElhaney, Joe. 2007. Howard Hawks: American Gesture. Journal of Film and Video 58 (1–2): 31–45.Google Scholar
  11. Rivette, Jacques. [1953] 1985. The Genius of Howard Hawks. In Chaiers du Cinéma: The 1950s, ed. Jim Hillier, 126–132. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Thomson, David. 1981. At the Acme Book Shop. Sight and Sound 50 (2): 122–125.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 1997. The Big Sleep. London: British Film Institute.Google Scholar
  14. Wood, Robin. [1968] 2006. Howard Hawks. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

Personalised recommendations