- Directors: Howard Hawks
- Producers: Howard Hawks
- Writers: Novel, Raymond Chandler, Screenplay, William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman
- Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
- Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
Note: As there are two cuts of this movie, this plot description may be inaccurate.
Private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) calls on new client General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) at his Los Angeles mansion. As he waits in the foyer, the General’s younger daughter, Carmen (Martha Vickers), flirts seductively with Marlowe. Marlowe is indifferent towards her flirtatious comments, leaving Carmen intrigued. He is then led by Norris, the butler, into the sun room where he is introduced to the ailing but wealthy general, who wants to resolve gambling debts owed by Carmen to a bookseller named Arthur Gwynn Geiger. As Marlowe begins to leave, he is stopped by General Sternwood’s oldest daughter, Mrs. Vivian Rutledge (Lauren Bacall), who questions Marlowe about what he is doing for her father. Vivian, who was recently divorced, suspects her father’s true reason for calling in a detective is to find Sean Regan, his friend, companion and bodyguard who had mysteriously disappeared a month earlier. The general assumption, established as the film progresses, is that Regan has run off with a local gambler’s wife, Mrs. Eddie Mars.
Marlowe goes to Arthur Geiger’s rare book shop and quickly dons a disguise as he enters the shop under the premise of searching for several rare books. Agnes, the unfriendly shop assistant, claims that they don’t have the book Marlowe is looking for, nor any of the other books he inquires about. Marlowe begins to suspect that the book store is a front. As he is talking with Agnes, a man enters the back room where Marlowe sees stacks of books and paper. His suspicions are correct: Geiger is illegally selling pornographic books. He asks to see Mr. Geiger, but Agnes claims that Geiger is not in. Marlowe leaves the store and takes shelter in a bookstore across the street as it begins to rain. While there, he asks the brunette bookstore clerk whether or not she has ever seen Geiger. She replies that she has. She describes Geiger as being in his early 40s, fat, with a Charlie Chan mustache and a glass eye. Marlowe and the attractive brunette begin to flirt. She removes her glasses and lets down her hair. Marlowe decides to wait for Geiger in the store. The clerk lowers the blinds and pulls out glasses for the bottle of rye Marlowe offers.
Marlowe wounds Mars and he runs out. But his men, waiting to ambush Marlowe, shoot and kill Mars. Marlowe calls Bernie Ohls to wrap up the case but tells him that Mars killed Regan. Marlowe and Vivian decide to commit Carmen and conceal the truth from the dying General Sternwood. They wait in the dark as sirens approach, now committed to each other.