An ITC/ATV movie directed by Michael Winner and based on the Raymond Chandler novel – but with the action transferred from Los Angeles to England and updated to the 1970s.
Philip Marlowe (Robert Mitchum) is an American private detective working in London, and business must be good – he drives a convertible Mercedes and wears a Rolex watch.
Retired American Army General Sternwood (Jimmy Stewart) hires Marlowe when his young daughter, Camilla (Candy Clark), is blackmailed by Arthur Geiger (John Justin), a pornographic bookseller with a glass eye.
But there’s another mystery – this one concerning the General’s oldest daughter, Charlotte (Sarah Miles), whose Irish husband, Rusty (David Saville) has disappeared without a trace.
The case becomes more complex and very dangerous as Marlowe tries to find the missing husband and comes across several bizarre characters, including Eddie Mars (Oliver Reed), a sort of minor godfather of the London underworld and owner of The Cheval Club, and Lash Canino (Richard Boone), a sadistic murderer.
Marlowe is confronted with all kinds of questions: Who killed Geiger while taking pictures of Camilla in the nude? Who has gunned down seedy bookmaker Joe Brody (Edward Fox) while trying to buy information from Marlowe? Why has Charlotte fallen under the power of Eddie Mars? Why has the General’s handsome young chauffeur Owen Taylor (Martin Potter) committed suicide by driving his car straight off a jetty into the sea? and what is Rusty’s connection with the trail of murder that follows Marlowe wherever he goes?
John Mills co-stars as perplexed Scotland Yard detective Jim Carson. Joan Collins also makes an appearance as Agnes, a “lady” who works at Geiger’s porno bookshop.
The title refers to death (“sleeping the big sleep”) which is never far away when the Brown Man (with the gammy foot) is around!
Inspector Jim Carson