Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and director Howard Hawks repeat their sultry success of “To Have and Have Not” with this all time classic mystery yarn, adapted from Raymond Chandler’s first Philip Marlowe novel, famous for its impossibly difficult plot of blackmails and murders. Bogart is in top ironic form here as Marlowe, a shamus hired by a wealthy old coot to find out why a book dealer is blackmailing his daughter; when that book dealer turns up dead, and death upon death seem to follow, the case becomes more than a simple blackmail gig. The plot is virtually impossible to follow upon first view, though after consecutive views (including a much different 1945 “preview” cut included on the DVD), using a pad and line chart you can successfully trace every blackmail and murder, even if Raymond Chandler himself couldn’t when asked about a certain death during production. Of the wealth of babes who seem to fall over backwards to flirt with Bogart throughout the film, Dorothy Malone steals the show with her one scene seduction in a bookstore, shedding her spectacles and bun to reveal a repressed literati goddess all too eager to share a shot of rye and suggestive innuendo with our obliging PI. It’s that mixture of sexy dialogue and film noir mystery that keeps this film forever fascinating; it’s arguably Hawks’ best film, and the happiest collaboration of Bogart and Bacall’s whirlwind decade together.