A Comparison of The Big Sleep and L.A. Confidential Essay example

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A Comparison of The Big Sleep and L.A. Confidential

For this essay I have taken two films of a similar genre and style from two different cinematic periods and compared them against to attempt to highlight the similarities and differences that will inevitably be present. The two films I have chosen are ‘The Big Sleep’, made in 1946 with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and ‘L.A Confidential’, made 41 years later in 1997 - with a stellar cast including Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger and Danny De’Vito. I chose these two films as they both originated from books; Raymond Chandler’s legendary ‘gumshoe’ Phillip Marlowe (Bogart) is adapted brilliantly by 40s film noir director Howard Hawks, and the
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To be frank it did not have to. We begin with the silhouette of a man and a woman, both smoking and blowing away the titles as they do so. We are told from this two possibilities, one - that there will be a love interest for the main character, and two - that the covering of smoke represents the shrouded, mysterious and dangerous world that we are about to be led into. The only one similarity in these two openings is that they both give us an atmosphere to hold onto for the rest of the film.

The reason that the two films differ in this respect is to do with the time they were made, and the audiences knowledge of past times. Film Noir such as The Big Sleep were popular for showing us the side of America that was not present in the Papers or on television. People were having the wool pulled over their eyes, told that happiness was something to be touched, and also something to be snatched at, but films like these, ‘Key Largo’, ‘The Third Man’ (my personal favourite) were simply showing people the underworld that the men in suits were hiding. L.A Confidential has the narrated introduction therefore, to set the pace and explain to those of us not educated in this idealism, what previous generations were taught over decades of film making, in four minutes. This is the key difference that I will continue to highlight throughout this essay.


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