Directed by Howard Hawks from Raymond Chandler's first novel. Screenplay by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman, with Chandler also lending a hand. Classic film noir from the Warner Studios has perfect casting led by Humphrey Bogart (as Philip Marlowe investigating a blackmailer) and Lauren Bacall. Set in a seedy, brooding, corrupt Los Angeles, with incursions into classy areas.Fine score by Max Steiner.

With its pornographers, nymphos, drug dealers, murderers, it has all the tough ingredients of the genre, plus wit, black humor, strange elegance, and, for its time, daring sex talk, direct or in double-entendres. Many scenes are memorable.

Bogart in a bookstore does perhaps the most amusing bit of his career. Film blends director Hawks's characteristic talents for action, breezy tempo and repartees. Bogart meets Bacall's young sister. Her first words: "You're not very tall,are you?" He: "Well, I try to be."

Plot is so complex and convoluted that neither Hawks nor the writers could figure it, and Faulkner especially never quite knew what he was doing. The movie is a gem.

(Edwin Jahiel)