DVD - The Big Sleep (2 stars)

THE BIG SLEEP

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(15) 95min (ITV DVD retail)

DETECTIVE THRILLER

Dear Michael Winner. Why? Relocating a classic film noir from LA to London is bad enough, but to drag it kicking and screaming into the late 70s? Criminal.

American private dick Marlowe (Robert Mitchum) is hired by the ailing General Sternwood (James Stewart) to catch a blackmailer, but becomes entangled with the General’s daughters Camilla (Candy Clark) and Charlotte (Sarah Miles) as the body count rises and the plot thickens.

Unrestricted by the MPAA code that bound the 40s film, this 1977 version was freer to follow the sex, violence and homosexuality of the original novel, but proves all the less effective for it.

With the Sussex sun obliterating any vestige of atmosphere, the cast camp it up in an increasingly hysterical fashion - especially Oliver Reed as a sinister club boss - leaving laconic Mitchum alone with any credibility, although even he must have wondered what the hell he had signed up for. No extras.

(Dave Martin)

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