I’d long been curious about the 1978 British remake of The Big Sleep, with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. It is bad. Very bad. There’s not a single thing about this film that is as good as the original. The story still doesn’t make any sense. That’s OK in the original. It got by on the astounding chemistry between Bogart and Bacall. To say that Mitchum has no chemistry with Sarah Miles is a huge understatement. Mitchum is in fact fine. His lazy, rakish charisma works well enough as Marlowe. In this sense, he’s not that much different from Elliott Gould’s Marlowe in The Long Goodbye. But Miles is most certainly no Bacall, not by any shot. Worse, the film suffers by bad BBC production effects. It really looks like a crappy British mystery you’d see on Masterpiece Theatre. I guess you can say that at least the film is more honest that Carmen Sternwood is into heroin and pornography, which you could only hint at in the 40s. And I guess the transformation of it into upper class British life is possibly OK. But it doesn’t really help. And then, for some damn reason, Jimmy Stewart plays General Sternwood in his two brief scenes. Why? Did Stewart need the money? Surely he could have found better work than this. Moreover, it’s the classic example of why you don’t cast icons in what are basically meaningless supporting roles. They simply distract from the film.
Anyway, this is a pretty worthless film. Why even remake it?
You can watch the whole thing here if you want, though I can’t embed it. If you disagree with my take on it, why?
I can embed the trailer.