Tuesday, January 22, 2013

70'S FOCUS : THE BIG SLEEP ... 1977

ROBERT MITCHUM as Philip Marlowe
SARAH MILES as Charlotte Greenwood
JOAN COLLINS as Agnes Lozelle
RICHARD BOONE as Lash Canino
CANDY CLARK as Camilla Sternwood
EDWARD FOX as Joe Brody
JOHN MILLS as Inspector Carson
JAMES STEWART as General Sternwood
OLIVER REED as Eddie Mars
COLIN BLAKELY as Harry Jones
RICHARD TODD as Commander Barker
DIANA QUICK as Mona Grant
MARTIN POTTER as Owen Taylor
Director of Photography - Robert Paynter  
      Art Director - John Graysmark
          Music by Jerry Fielding
               Screenplay by Michael Winner 
                    From the Novel by Raymond Chandler
                          Edited by Freddie Wilson
                              Executive Producer - Lew Grade
                      Produced by Elliott Kastner & Michael Winner
                                    Directed by Michael Winner
Private eye, Philip Marlowe faces his deadliest and most dangerous case when he is hired to find a missing person by a wealthy general. Murder and blackmail abound! Where no one can be trusted! But his toughest challenge is trying to keep his eyes open.. to avoid The Big Sleep!!
 (c) 1977 .. ITC.. 99 MINS .. Color .. Reg 1 DVD - LionsGate.
               Region 2 release - ITV Home Entertainment..
This 1977 remake of the Bogart and Bacall classic, is the second appearance as Philip Marlowe by Robert Mitchum. He also played the character in the 1975 remake of 'Farewell My Lovely'. This version of 'The Big Sleep', directed by Michael Winner, most famous for his series of 'Death Wish' films, is more faithful to the original novel than the Hollywood classic. The only considerable change is the setting of London, rather than Los Angeles.
Michael Winner recalled....
" Little known London locations have been used to create a sort of magical city.. that could be anywhere.. a timeless setting for Marlowe to crusade against evil and corruption.."
Joan however found the plot rather confusing and difficult to follow!
" The plot was so convoluted, none of us could understand what we were doing! Candy Clark and I used to sit down and try to work out who is doing what to whom! I ended up having three boyfriends in the film. Edward Fox, Colin Blakely and somebody  else!. I saw Colin at a party recently and he said to me...'Hello Darling! We were lovers in 'The Big Sleep', but we never had a scene together!'.. Michael has done a good job of reworking the original.. He also has a better cast, with the exception of Bogie and Bacall! But Mitchun is great as Marlowe, he is very laconic, has this brilliant wit.. A brilliant wit!"
The film was shot on location in London at various spots, including Avery Hill Park and Winter Gardens, Knebworth House and Kensington. A varied cast of screen veterans were assembled for the production, although many have only small roles. Hollywood legend James Stewart has a cameo role as the General and was not in good health. He was also hard of hearing and suffered memory loss at this stage, finding it difficult to remember his lines. 
Robert Mitchum quipped...
"This film is all about corpses. But Jimmy looks deader than any of them!"
Sarah Miles had a significant role in the film as Stewart's wacky daughter, Michael was only too aware of her reputation as a difficult star and was not surprised when she made a few demands of her own.
"Sarah played the General's daughter and we were shooting at Knebworth House, which acted as the Generals mansion. When Sarah saw the room that was to be her character's in the film she went ballistic!
' The room has to be white! It is white in the original film!'
I was amazed.. "Sarah! This isn't the original film. You don't get white rooms in a kind of English castle!" But she was adamant and we had to change the entire decor!"
Joan enjoyed making the film, even though she had only a few key scenes in it. She does however provide some of the more memorable moments in the film. Michael had asked her if she would abandon her wig and wear her own hair for the shoot. She agreed and throughout filming she assured him that she was not wearing a wig, even resorting to letting him tug at it! At the end of the shooting schedule, as she was about to leave the set for the last time, she stood at the side, shouted to him.
"Michael Darling!.... Whilst pulling off her wig, which had been expertly pinned down during filming. She laughed as she threw the wig at him!
Not well received on it's release, the film is an entertaining view and it is great to see a collection of genuine stars in one film, many of whom sadly are gone now. Well worth staying awake for!!

      (c) 2011  .... Mark McMorrow...

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