In den USA war schon im Jahr 2000 eine Fassung dieses Klassikers erschienen, auf die man in Europa bisher leider vergeblich wartet. Denn „The Big Sleep“ gibt es zweimal. Berühmt und allgemein bekannt ist die revidierte Version von 1946. Ein Jahr davor jedoch gab es eine andere Fassung, mit einer weniger verwirrenden Handlung, aber auch mit weniger Lauren Bacall:
„The 1946 film that audiences have known and loved is actually a revised version of an unreleased “Big Sleep“ that was made in late 1944 and early 1945 and left forgotten in the Warner Brothers vaults for nearly half a century.
The original film was discovered several years ago by Bob Gitt, the preservation officer of the Film and Television Archive at the University of California at Los Angeles…
The revised film, which was cut to accommodate 18 minutes of new material, ran 114 minutes, making it 2 minutes shorter than the 1945 version of the Chandler story. It played up the glamour and sex appeal of Ms. Bacall by adding more of the saucy back-and-forth between her and Bogart that audiences had loved in her first film, “To Have and Have Not“ (1944). It also added a scene between Bogart and Martha Vickers, who plays Ms. Bacall’s sex-crazed sister, Carmen.
To make room for the added Bogart-Bacall material, Hawks cut an important scene, more than nine minutes long, in which Bogart and Regis Toomey review the facts of the case for the district attorney and a police detective. As a result, the 1946 version of the film has always confounded viewers trying to figure out the plot. “The 1946 version is definitely a more enigmatic film, and there’s more of Lauren Bacall in it,“ said the critic Leonard Maltin. “The original is more linear, a bit clearer and somehow a little less intriguing. Stylistically it’s less exotic.“ (William Grimes: Mystery of ‚The Big Sleep‘ Solved, „New York Times“)