In the middle of the tangled mystery that is The Big Sleep, there is this little scene I want to tell you about.
After asking a phony bookshop for a “Ben-Hur 1863, third edition with a duplicate line on page 116″ with no success, Bogie’s Marlowe travels across the street to a real bookshop where he runs into a clerk (Dorothy Malone). She’s a young girl, plain with glasses: a real looker.
She gets the drift. There is no such book. The dialogue goes something like this.
She: You begin to interest me, vaguely.
He: I’m a… private dick on a case. Perhaps I’m asking too much, although it doesn’t seem too much to me, somehow.
She describes the man Bogie is looking for.
He: You’d make a good cop.
She: You gonna wait for him to come out?
She: Well, they don’t close for another hour or so. It’s raining pretty hard.
He: I got my car.
Then he sees the look on her face.
He: That’s right, it is isn’t it? You know it just happens I got a bottle of pretty good rye in my pocket. I’d a lot rather get wet in here.
She shuts the door to the shop and turns the sign over to CLOSED.
She: Looks like we’re closed for the rest of the afternoon.
This is one of my favorite scenes in movies, and certainly one of my favorite Hawks scenes. The Big Sleep was directed by him, Howard Hawks, in 1946, it stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was adapted from the novel by Raymond Chandler; the screenwriters were William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman.