The Big Sleep Essay

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 In the following essay, Shatzkin compares the novel and film versions of The Big Sleep, finding that in both confusion and illogicality are natural parts of the terrain.

Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep appears to fit that category of novel critic Edmund Wilson identified as capable of being "poured . . . on to the screen as easily as if it had been written in the studios . . ." ("The Boys in the Back Room" [1940]). In many respects, director Howard Hawks and his collaborators did succeed in pouring the essence of Chandler into their 1946 film. Most notably, they recreated the novel's atmosphere of evanescent corruption and emphasized character at the expense of formal considerations of plot. Nevertheless, the glibness of Wilson's metaphor disguises the "filtering" process operant in any transfer of narrative from one medium to another: Chandler's story of his hero's failed individualistic and Romantic quest became on screen a dark romantic comedy that...

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This section contains 4,106 words
(approx. 11 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Big Sleep Study Guide
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