Many hands touched the screenplay, including this lady’s:
After reading Leigh Brackett’s first novel, the hard-boiled detective story No Good from a Corpse, director Howard Hawks called her agent to arrange an interview and was rather surprised to see a short 29-year-old woman walk into his office. It didn’t alter his original opinion, however, and he hired her to work on the screenplay with William Faulkner.
Bogart read the script and objected to some lines he thought were too genteel for the character. He assumed they had been written by Brackett because she was a woman. When he went to request re-writes from her, she told him they were Faulkner’s lines. Then she proceeded to make the dialogue even more hard-boiled and tough. As a result, he nicknamed her “Butch.”
The Big Sleep’s women are all very Hawks-ian.
(The female characters in The Thing From Another World are one of the arguments raised to argue that Hawks was the real director of that movie, not just the producer. Forgive the colorization:)
That is, they are the opposite of the female characters Jack Nicholson’s novelist creates in As Good As It Gets:
Hawks and his collaborators first start with a woman, then add reason, accountability, effortless professional competence — and a casual, breezy approach to sexuality that, weirdly, never lessens their femininity or attractiveness.
Bogart is propositioned by pretty much every woman in The Big Sleep, from hatcheck girls to a cab driver, but only the bookstore clerk (played by a then-brunette 20 year old Dorothy Malone) seems to get what she wants.
Of course, all this is a pretty bad approach to a happy life unless you’re Slim Keith, but it is fun to watch on screen.