The Big Sleep
With a plot so twisted that even its four co-writers (including novelists Raymond Chandler and William Faulkner) admitted they couldn't keep track of all its doings, 1946's The Big Sleep is nevertheless a hugely entertaining movie, powered by a frisky performance by Humphrey Bogart. Bogie plays Philip Marlowe -- the original private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks -- who's hired to help quash a blackmail threat against the wild-child daughter of a wealthy family. His duties do not keep him from engaging in delicious, just-shy-of-censorship innuendo with the family's other wild-child daughter, played by Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall. Nor does the film move its hydra-headed plot along so relentlessly that it can't stop cold for some playfully bizarre non sequiter scenes that give its lead actor a chance to stretch. (Check out tough guy Bogie as a fey, bespectacled book collector.) The Big Sleep isn't just another bleak classic noir -- it's a hoot.