SAM’s film-noir series launches its 40th year with ‘The Big Sleep’

Seattle Art Museum’s film series dedicated to gimlet-eyed detectives, tough femme fatales, moody lighting and chewy dialogue is said to be the longest-running noir series in the world.

Vivian: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them work out a little first, see if they’re front-runners or come from behind, find out what their hole card is, what makes them run.

Marlowe: Find out mine?

Vivian: I think so.

Film preview

‘Here Comes the Night: The 40th Film Noir Series’

Seattle Art Museum, 7:30 p.m. Thursday nights beginning Sept. 28. Films include “The Big Sleep,” “Lured,” “The File on Thelma Jordan,” “Kiss of Death,” “The Naked Alibi,” “Pickup on South Street,” “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane,” “Pretty Poison, “Chinatown.” Series passes are $78; or $71 for SAM, NWFF, SIFF, Scarecrow Video or TheFilmSchool members. tickets.seattleartmuseum.org or 206-654-3210.

Marlowe: Go ahead.

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Vivian: I’d say you don’t like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.

Marlowe: You don’t like to be rated yourself.

Vivian: I haven’t met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?

Marlowe: Well, I can’t tell till I’ve seen you over a distance of ground. You’ve got a touch of class, but I don’t know how, how far you can go.

Vivian: A lot depends on who’s in the saddle. Go ahead, Marlowe. I like the way you work.

—“The Big Sleep,” 1946

Sexiest dialogue in film history? Perhaps so. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, two years after they memorably met on screen in “To Have and Have Not,” spoke these lines in a crowded restaurant, where tinny piano music mingles with cigarette smoke. Both purr their dialogue, stroking the words like velvet; watching, you know you’d follow these characters anywhere, whatever wrong they might be doing.

On Sept. 28, “The Big Sleep” will be the opening film in “Here Comes the Night,” Seattle Art Museum’s 40th annual Thursday-night series devoted to the irresistibly shadowed art of film noir. A genre at its peak in the 1940s and ’50s, film noir (the name literally means “dark film”) showcases tales of gimlet-eyed detectives, tough femme fatales, lost souls and unforgivable crimes, caught in moody lighting and told in the kind of…

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