If you can't make sense out of Raymond Chandler's whodunit novel The Big Sleep, join the club. Nobel Prize laureate/screenwriter William Faulkner, along with co-screenwriters Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, couldn't make sense out of it either. They called author Chandler to have him explain the plot, and he yelled at them that everything was in the book and hung up. In the long run, it really doesn't matter who shot the chauffeur or what nympho Carmen's been up to in director Howard Hawks's 1946 crazy-quilt adaptation The Big Sleep. The attraction is the fact that the ever-steamy Bogart and Bacall elegantly fence their way around the censors like two musketeers, making the most of the writers' snarky double entendres. Hawks's firm grasp of cinematic grammar gives us a screen that's awash in cinematographer Sid Hickox's pearly gray noir swirls, a nice contrast with designer Carl Jules Weyl's crisp settings. The film screens at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org. $6 to $7.
July 2-3, 5 p.m.; Sat., July 4, 3 p.m., 2009