Big Sleep The (1946)
O.K. so no one really knows what happened in this film (e.g. the actual solution to the mystery is still being debated today and apparently wasn’t known at the time either;-). It’s still a classic with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe investigating a murder and a socialite’s (Martha Vickers) involvement for her father (Charles Waldren). Her sister played by Lauren Bacall gets involved pretty deeply in the story too which also features a quirky (redundant?) Elisha Cook Jr. performance. There’s also a great scene between Bogart and Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind (1956)) in a bookstore. Directed by Howard Hawks with a William Faulkner script. Added to the National Film Registry in 1997. Bogart’s Philip Marlowe is AFI’s #32 hero.
Part of the reason for the film’s muddled plot is the fact that it was completed in 1944 and was then shelved due to Warner Bros.’s rush to get their backlog of war themed films out the door before they became dated per the pending end of World War II. Subsequently Hawks’ earlier film with Bogie & Bacall To Have and Have Not (1944) was released which contained such great interplay between its two stars (who would fall in love and marry in real life) that Jack Warner decided to put this film back in production a year after primary photography had been completed. The script was spiced up and several scenes were cut and/or altered to make it even better than the original which was never released but can be seen (if infrequently) on TCM along with a documentary detailing the changes.