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The Maltese Falcon
Year:
1941
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
8.2
Director:
John Huston
Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade
Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Gladys George as Iva Archer
Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane as Det. Lt. Dundy
Lee Patrick as Effie Perine
Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond as Det. Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer
Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer Cook
James Burke as Luke
Murray Alper as Frank Richman
Storyline: Spade and Archer is the name of a San Francisco detective agency. That's for Sam Spade and Miles Archer. The two men are partners, but Sam doesn't like Miles much. A knockout, who goes by the name of Miss Wanderly, walks into their office; and by that night everything's changed. Miles is dead. And so is a man named Floyd Thursby. It seems Miss Wanderly is surrounded by dangerous men. There's Joel Cairo, who uses gardenia-scented calling cards. There's Kasper Gutman, with his enormous girth and feigned civility. Her only hope of protection comes from Sam, who is suspected by the police of one or the other murder. More murders are yet to come, and it will all be because of these dangerous men -- and their lust for a statuette of a bird: the Maltese Falcon.
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Reviews
Great
I remember looking at my movies list for class and seeing The Maltese Falcon and I got excited. I remember watching this in my Detective Fiction class in high school and loving it. I couldn't wait to watch it again. After watch Casablanca and seeing what a great job Humphrey Bogart did he did in that film, he killed it with the Maltese Falcon. Although Casablanca came out a year later he did an exceptional job. These types of old movies are my favorite. Old mysteries where the main character is some type of detective and tries to solve cases are the best. I try and follow along and solve everything myself. I would watch this movie over and over again and I have come to really like Humphrey Bogart and his work.
2014-04-17
Bogart, the hero who was exactly right for his time…
The Forties were the years when Hollywood decided that the mystery thriller deserved big-budget, big-star treatment, threw up a new kind of hero who was exactly right for his time: they were the fabulous years which established the private eye adventure as the irremovable all-time favorite in the whole field of suspense… The field was so rich, the choice so lavish in that decade, that it was difficult to know where memory should stop and call "Encore".

As the author of the screenplay, Huston made every effort to do justice, and remain faithful, to Dashiell Hammett's novel… But in remaining faithful, the newest version asked audiences to accept the complicated plot at its full strength and that is where the film's main flaw occurs… Names, murders, and intrigues turn up so quickly that it is extremely difficult to understand exactly what is happening in this tale of an assortment of characters in search of a fabulous jewel-encrusted statue…

Probably in no other film will a viewer find a gallery of such diverse human beings whose perfect1y constructed portrayals remain permanently locked in one's memory…

Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaughnessy is a striking picture of feminine deceit and betrayal… Able to shed tears on command, she is a confirmed liar who can be as deadly as she is beautiful; she can make passionate love to Bogart, but wouldn't hesitate a moment to kill him if it suited her plan… Her performance is surely one of the screen's most brilliant portrayals of duplicity masked with fascination…

Sydney Greenstreet, in his movie debut, was equally memorable as the menacingly mountainous man behind the search for the elusive black bird, and almost stole the picture… Cunning, determined, appreciative of the fine arts, Greenstreet—who seemed to get more dangerous as he got more imperturbably polite—is a man who would devote his entire life to a single quest if need be…

Peter Lorre's Joel Cairo was a resolute picture of classic villainy… With curled hair and impeccably clean dress, he is an unpredictable accomplice of Greenstreet, difficult to deal with…

But it is Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade that remains classic in its construction… Obviously cynical, he still maintains his own code of ethics which he adheres to faithfully… He is doubtful, but not foolhardy… He is courageous, but not without fear… Spade uses everyone he comes in contact with… He wins not because he's smarter than his enemies, but because he is the only character in a central position… Spade is every bit as ruthless as the crooks who try to use him… His tactics in dealing with them, however, are necessary for his survival...

His treatment of the two women in the film seems equally as harsh, but neither is a wide eyed innocent and both attempt to deceive him in one manner or another… His exchanges with Brigid O'Shaughnessy are electric... Their mutual attraction is undeniable... But Spade will play the fool for no woman… He is a loner, but he has contacts, and knows where to go for what he wants… Even with very little money, he is totally incorruptible… He has no apparent friends… He is laconic, but he can throw a wisecrack as fast as he can throw a punch...

"The Maltese Falcon" molded the image we remember of Bogart all through the early years of the Forties—an image elaborated upon and reinforced in "Casablanca," and the one which all Bogart fans remember with great affection and admiration…
2005-04-22
Slightly overrated
Bogart made his name as a private detective in this one, so the expectations were pretty much high prior to watching. Humprey's being classical Humprey, cool, old school macho trying to wiggle his way out an elaborate scheme revolving around the ancient artifact, but that's pretty much it. Rest of the cast, as the script itself will blend into a classical conspiracy/crime story of that era, with all the right moves and turns, but lacking any kind of innovation at all. „Maltese Falcon" is solid piece of movie history and a classical Bogart's role that made him what he is.
2017-03-16
The Art Of Conversation
This website has ranked this film 69th out of the top 250 films ever made, and AFI has put this movie in the top 100 American films ever made!! Such accolades are thoroughly justified, mostly on account of the fact that the innovative plot that this film purveys, simply astounds the movie audience!! Humphry Bogart is sensational in this flick.. his classic line of "This is the stuff dreams are made out of" is one of the classic lines of any movie made period!! The whole film is about a lot of dialog which encompasses the art of conversation through conniving chicanery and negotiations with the sordid underworld!! (Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre) There is an underlying premise of greed and undaunted avariciousness, not to mention, a widespread ego maniacal obsession with everyone about winning the prize!! Everyone wants to best everyone else... Mary Astor (Chicago Society) is remarkable in this film... Her feminine wiles camouflage her ulterior motives... Taking place in San Francisco, this film evokes a camaraderie with ancient Eastern World artifacts of irreplaceable value... Straddling both sides of the fence seems to be the prerequisite that makes one single individual emerge victorious throughout this entire film..Guess Who? Watch the movie to find out!! This movie is superb, and it exemplifies the term "Classic" when it comes to the all time movies in the cinematic history of fine film making!! I give it five stars and so does virtually anybody else who has seen this movie!! THIS MOVIE IS A MUST SEE FOR EVERYONE!!!
2008-02-27
Detachment as Aura...and the way they talk!
The Maltese Falcon (1941)

What makes Bogart so cool? And what makes The Maltese Falcon with its ludicrous plot and foamcore characters so untouchable? Three things, in, uh, spades: pace, script, and archetype. All of these make for a stylized film--no gritty realism, no method acting, no penetration. No social commentary. No innovation. Nothing really but a beautiful sprint that leaves you breathless, but not tired.

The film is about style, and coolness (not to be mistaken for hipness--cool as in chilled, unflappable). It has aura, and clever detachment. Even the characters are detached. They are pulled by the events but never, except when the fat man gets out his pocket knife at the end, swept away. One by one, these really great actors get to sharpen the edges of their two- dimensional selves, and it's really amazing to watch.

This is John Huston's first film, and like that little first film by Orson Welles released just six months earlier, it has a scary mastery to it. But if Huston, like Welles, rode the talents of many studio professionals at their peak, he pulled the film away from cinematic excess into what almost feels almost like a fast, and highly distilled, adaptation of a theater production. (It's based, of course, on the detective novel by Dashiell Hammett.) The movie talks a lot because there isn't much to show--nothing physical really happens beyond a couple of fisticuffs--but such talk! When Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman first meets Bogart's Sam Spade and they share a drink, sit, and light up cigars, Greenstreet (also in his first film) bobs and feints through some fabulous wordplay, ending, with the camera low to make his size only larger: "I'll tell you right out, I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."

Bogart says, "Swell," and he talks without giving an inch. He really is "cool" in that way Bogart, through most of his movie roles, still defines for us decades later. Huston must have felt the transcendent power of the still rising star (Casablanca was still a year away) because, ultimately, the film is a vehicle for Bogart being Bogart, in the face of three or four counterparts who are each at their archetypal best. And gosh, Bogie sure knows how to take a gun away from hapless bodyguard played by Elisha Cook, Jr.

The film is no empty exercise in expertise. It creates a fictional world we can understand top to bottom because it's so simple. We enjoy all the principals so much, we happily tag along on the unfolding trail of this improbable "black bird" and its sudden arrival toward the end for the sake of soaking up the characters, as characters. And look how even Bogart at one point looks jittery compared to Greenstreet, whose ponderous ease and guffaws in the face of trauma won him an Oscar nomination. Peter Lorre, plausibly uncertain and almost tender (and who's to say whether homosexual, too, in an wan, period stereotype) in his attempt at badness, is a marvel, someone you talk about later, someone who can parody himself in Capra's 1944 Arsenic and Old Lace (which shares a screenwriter with another Lorre film, Casablanca).

Spade's cynicism, his wariness, his occasional up-and-up certitude (he gives the money back!), and his willingness to laugh at it all, above all, overcome weakness like his so-called romance with the Mary Astor femme fatale. The end actually falls a little flat because we don't believe in their love, but we're not sure he did either. And did we ever believe her? In fact, isn't that part of the trick here, not believing anyone, ever?
2009-05-13
Film Lovers Study This Movie
This is by far my favorite American film noirs of the 30s/40s. And kind of light on the "noir" aspect at that, as agreed my many. But in narrative and style, it is definitely dark. Based off of a Dashiell Hammett short-story, this is the account of a surly private-eye, who stumbles onto circumstance and characters he really doesn't need in his life. The camera use, lighting (and lack thereof) are all supremely done in this film. Sydney Greenstreet is forever evil this story, and makes his "Ferrari" character in Casablanca look like a small-time street thug. There are really no characters with redeeming qualities in this film. For a while you might think Spade's secretary is above the scam, but in the narrative, she really ends up getting in on the action and following the boss's orders. Peter Lorre, like Greenstreet, is evil, too, and like many of his rolls as an unsavory type, you still might find yourself cheering him on. You will find new elements in the film each time you watch it, and if you're a real buff for the hard- boiled pulp of the era, watch it soon for your first time, then start it all over again, and identify what you missed the first time!
2016-12-07
Third Time's the Charm in the 1941 Version of Hammett's Classic
The classic 1941 version of THE MALTESE FALCON (TMF) was the third movie adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's seminal detective novel about cynical private eye Sam Spade's adventures with the alluring but treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy and other greedy no-goodniks vying for the titular falcon statue. It proves the old adage "The third time is the charm." No wonder John Huston's taut, wryly cynical take on Hammett's tale put him on the map as a writer/director. His version has the best of everything in one package: the best private eye thriller, the best Dashiell Hammett movie adaptation, the best remake, and the best nest-of-vipers cast, including the signature Humphrey Bogart role/performance.

Huston's powerhouse cast was born to play these characters. Between the perfect performances (even the great Walter Huston is memorable in his brief cameo as the dying Captain Jacobi), Huston's lean, mean pacing and striking visuals (Arthur Edeson's expressionistic photography and Thomas Richards' editing work beautifully), and the overall faithfulness to the novel, it's as if Huston & Company just opened the book and shook it until the characters fell out, then started filming.

Humphrey Bogart doesn't match Hammett's description of Sam Spade as a "blond Satan," but he's got Spade's attitude down perfectly, and besides, he's Bogart! What's not to like? Bogie deftly balances toughness, trickiness, and tenderness, but he never lets his tender side make a sap out of him. I find Bogart's Spade sexier than skirt-chasing Ricardo Cortez or Warren William in the previous films because the dames are drawn to Bogie because of his sheer charisma and strength of character, as opposed to him aggressively pitching woo at them until they give in from sheer exhaustion. In an early scene with Brigid, Spade has a line about how all he has to do is stand still and the cops will be swarming all over him; substitute "women" for "cops" and the line would still be accurate! :-) Mary Astor's real-life shady-lady past informs her spot-on performance as quicksilver Brigid O'Shaughnessy, but it's her watchful eyes, elegance, and that beseeching "throb in (her) voice" as she enlists Spade's aid that makes her so fascinating and believable as an avaricious adventuress with a prim, sweet facade—a woman who'd kill a guy as soon as kiss him, and keep him guessing about her intentions until the bitter end. That's what made Astor and Bogart such a great team; in their capable hands, Brigid and Spade are two wily, street-smart people who are onto each other as well as into each other.

Every actor in TMF shines, from Bogart and Astor to Ward Bond and Barton MacLane as Sgt. Polhaus and Lt. Dundy, to Jerome Cowan as Spade's doomed partner Miles Archer, to Gladys George as clingy, vindictive Iva Archer, to the only cast members who reprised their roles in the otherwise so-so 1975 sequel/spoof THE BLACK BIRD: Elisha Cook Jr. as gunsel Wilmer Cook and Lee Patrick as Spade's trusty secretary Effie Perine. After Spade's tomcatting with Effie and other babes in the early films, it was refreshing that Effie's interest in Spade here is more professional than personal. There's warmth between them, but it stops well short of neck-nuzzling and lap-sitting. :-) Cook has many memorable moments, particularly one brilliant scene where he's on the verge of shooting the cool, calm Spade, his eyes filling with tears of rage as he whispers, "Get on your feet. I've taken all the riding from you I'm gonna take." When Wilmer comes to after Spade punches him out, dread and horror spreads over his face as each of the conspirators stares at him coldly (another triumph of editing and photography), and he realizes he's being set up as their fall guy. You can almost hear Wilmer frantically thinking, "Oh, s***!!!" Still, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre come closest to stealing the show. As Kasper Gutman, Greenstreet blends menace with avuncularity, his voice a cultured growl. Greenstreet's performance is so assured, it's hard to believe TMF was this veteran stage actor's first movie job, but it's easy to see why he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. TMF made Greenstreet an in-demand character actor and one of cinema's most memorable villains, especially in his team-ups with Peter Lorre. Lorre's witty, sly performance as the smoothly effeminate yet ruthless weasel Joel Cairo is a marvelous addition to the rogues' gallery of lowlifes Lorre played over the course of his long career. After TMF's success, the great cast worked together in various combinations in many movies, including CASABLANCA. I've always wondered what a TMF caper film sequel following Gutman and Cairo to Istanbul would've been like, considering Greenstreet and Cairo's antihero buddy chemistry.

TMF has so much memorable dialogue, often laced with sardonic humor, that I'd be virtually transcribing the whole script if I quoted all my fave lines. In my family, "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter" and "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it" have often been jokingly quoted. Then there's Gutman's deliciously ironic toast with Spade: "Here's to plain speaking and clear understanding." Plain speaking and clear understanding with this band of greedy, duplicitous cutthroats?! Good luck! :-) But the talk's a joy to listen to; as Gutman says, "I distrust a closed-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says all the wrong things. Talking is something you can't do judiciously unless you keep in practice." TMF has one of cinema's greatest last lines, Spade's answer when Polhaus asks what the statue is: "The stuff that dreams are made of." I also love the climactic scene with all the principal players, especially the dialogue between Spade and Gutman about how to go about getting what they want ("...If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can't afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?...") Truly, TMF is "The stuff that dreams are made of"!
2007-03-24
classic noir film
In San Francisco in 1941, private investigators Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) meet prospective client Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor). She claims to be looking for her missing sister, who is involved with a man named Floyd Thursby, whom she is to meet. After receiving a substantial retainer, Archer agrees to follow her that night and help get her sister back.

That night, Spade is awakened by a phone call from the police and is informed that Archer has been killed. He meets his friend, Police Detective Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond), at the murder scene and they determine how Miles has been murdered. He tells Polhaus he doesn't need or want to see anything else, and abruptly leaves. He tries calling Wonderly at her hotel, but she has checked out. Back at his apartment, he is grilled by Polhaus and Lieutenant Dundy (Barton MacLane), who inform him that Thursby was also murdered the same evening. Dundy suggests that Spade had the opportunity and motive to kill Thursby, who likely killed Archer, immediately after he learned of Archer's death. Archer's widow Iva (Gladys George) believes that Spade shot his partner so he could have her.
2016-12-18
The best detective story.
I love this movie. I didn't love it until I'd watched it a couple of times.

And I didn't love it quite so much until I'd read Harvey Greenberg's "Movies on Your Mind."

But I now think that, within the strictures of its budget, it's about as good as it can get. Sam Spade is a marvelous character in this film. He gives practically nothing away, while gathering information from others simply by letting them talk, kind of like a shrink.

And it's hard to believe that they could have found a cast that fit the templates of the novel so perfectly. Sidney Greenstreet IS the "fat man." Peter Lorre IS the queer. My nomination for best scene: When Greenstreet attempts to peel off the black enamel from the captured bird and finds that it's nothing but lead and begins to hack away at it, as if it were alive and he were trying to kill it. Nothing is more amusing than a fat man lipid with rage.

If you see this one, and I hope you do, make note of the phenomenal black and white photography. (I hope you have a good connection.) Watch, for instance, the glissade of the camera when Bogart says, "You have brains. Yes, you do."

In case you're worried about this being too sophisticated for enjoyment by an ordinary audience, I should mention that I showed this (in one connection or another, I forget) to a class of Marines at Camp Lejeune. They enjoyed the hell out of it, especially the scene in which Mary Astor kicks Peter Lorre in the shins.

Don't miss it.
2003-11-19
Maltese Falcon
The camera angles were supremely creative. Such as, profile and facial shots, sky view and other beautiful angles. I loved how the picture was visualised in San Fransico.For example, the city buildings, expensive cars, rich costume and production designing, the bridge of San Fransico and other high standard ingredients. The storyline was complex. It had pulling twists and turns. As an audient the film made me read between the lines. The title was extremely stylish and suspicious. In my opinion the monochrome, cinematography, exposer was well imaged. The movie director had more cinematic portraits than the city landscape. It was slightly disappointing for me. But on the other hand, I was very impressed with the orchestra. The instruments played it rich tunes. The treasured picture is a gift for film buffs and artists.

I will give the movie an 8/10
2014-01-24
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