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Plot: 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. Runtime: 100 mins Release Date: 18 Oct 1941
"The Greatest Movie Star of all time" and more (by JFHunt)
Bogart. The coolest guy to ever live?Have you ever wondered what makes someone possess an essence that's defined as being "cool"? They seem to have that combination between imagery and soul that few people truly have. Is it in the style of clothes you wear or one's knowledge of independence? Is it the way you comb your hair or your unkempt humility for everything out there? It could be in your talk or how you walk, but maybe it's more about what you say and where you're going. In a sense it's an attitude that seeks to define character and break the mold of <more>
control. It's the fine line between knowing when to speak up and when saying less means more. So is Bogart the coolest guy to ever live? In a single word, absolutely.The Maltese Falcon is basically a showcase for Bogart. A role that seems to be made for him, even with two previous attempts at the film. He is and always was born to play Sam Spade. The tough guy private investigator, who always has the right things to say. More likely to fire a witty comeback than a gun. Able to fall in love, even if only for the moment, and then send her to the gallows. All in the name of doing the right thing. It's not an emotional business.The movie itself wrote the book of the crime and mystery drama story. Probably the best written plot in it's genre. No doubt that Bogart makes the character come alive, with that infectious voice and his uncompromising demeanor. But the movie itself is, to say the least, very good. The ending just does it for me. The last couple of lines are some of the best in film history.Although it took me a while to finally see this film, I realize that it's one of Bogart's triumphs and has all the main reasons why I love the guy so much. Please, see this film and remember Bogart as he was."Heavy. What is it? The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of."
The Maltese Falcon has a totally atypical Hollywood history. After two previous filmings of Dashiell Hammett's novel, the third time a classic film was achieved. Usually the original is best and the remakes are the inferior product.These characters that John Huston wrote and breathed life into with his direction are so vital and alive even 65 years after the premiere of The Maltese Falcon. You can watch this one fifty times and still be entertained by it.I'm not sure how the code let this one slip through. Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade is partners with Jerome Cowan in a detective <more>
agency Spade and Archer. Client Mary Astor comes into their office requesting help in getting rid of a man who's intruding in on her life. Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer eagerly takes the assignment and gets himself bumped off for his troubles.Cowan is quite the skirt chaser and he certainly isn't the first or the last man to think with his hormones. That's OK because Bogart's been fooling around with his wife, Gladys George. That gives the police, Barton MacLane and Ward Bond, motive enough to suspect Bogart might have had a hand in Cowan's death.As fans of The Maltese Falcon are well aware, there's quite a bit more to the story than that. Bogart's investigation leads him to a crew of adventurous crooks, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr. who are in pursuit of a statue of a Falcon that is said to be encrusted in gold and precious jewels. The Maltese Falcon is a milestone film role for Humphrey Bogart. It is the first time that Bogey was ever first billed in an A picture while he was at Warner Brothers. In fact this is also John Huston's first film as a director. He had previously just been a screenwriter and in fact got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay he wrote here. There are some who will argue that this first film is Huston's best work and I'd be hard up to dispute that.After a long career on stage The Maltese Falcon was the screen debut of Sydney Greenstreet. Greenstreet may be orally flatulent here, but there's no doubt to the menace he exudes while he's on screen. Greenstreet got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley. Greenstreet created quite a gallery of characters for the next ten years, mostly for Warner Brothers.A favorite character of mine in The Maltese Falcon has always been Lee Patrick as Effie, the secretary at Spade&Archer. She's loyal, efficient and crushing out on Bogey big time. This and the part of Mrs. Topper in the television series Topper are Lee Patrick's career roles. I never watch The Maltese Falcon without hoping that Bogey will recognize how really "precious" Effie is.The Maltese Falcon will be entertaining people hundreds of years from now. And please no more remakes of this one.
While there are films that are considered classic for their technical achievements and classics that resound with audiences for a feel-good emotion, The Maltese Falcon stands in that group that is a classic for every aspect of its creative makeup. With a brilliant script, talented direction and some outstanding performances, The Maltese Falcon stands up today as well as it did upon release.When Sam Spade -- played brilliantly by Humphrey Bogart -- and his partner Archer are hired to tail a rich eccentric by a woman who claims her sister is being unwittingly kept separated from her by the rich <more>
eccentric, it seems like just another case. But when Archer and the eccentric are gunned down and all fingers point to Sam Spade for conflicting yet damning reasons, Spade is thrown into a whirlwind of deceptions that all point in one direction: a Maltese statue of a falcon.Bogart demonstrates clearly why he is one of the great classic actors of the 20th century, and indeed one of the most natural screen actors ever. His charisma, charm and intense masculine looks give him a presence that simply dominates the screen. With a host of other great talents to fill the screen, there is not a moment of wasted performance. The direction is tight and driving and the pacing never lets up. And the script demonstrates why there are less and less truly great films being released in present day: the writers and directors of the golden age of cinema knew that subtlety works ten times more effectively than the modern in-your-face all-the-time works.The Maltese Falcon is a timeless work that deserves its place in the list of greatest films ever made.
Bogart, the hero who was exactly right for his time (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
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 <more>
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, Greenstreetwho seemed to get more dangerous as he got more imperturbably politeis 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 Fortiesan image elaborated upon and reinforced in "Casablanca," and the one which all Bogart fans remember with great affection and admiration
"The Maltese Falcon" would be nothing without the muscular, cynical, and very entertaining lead performance from Humphrey Bogart. Well, 'nothing' maybe a bit of an overstatement- the film is inventive and interesting otherwise but Bogart's performance makes the film. This film established his career, helping him escape the dozens of cheap crime films he was in prior to this film. It's easy to see why audiences were impressed with his charismatic portrayal of no-nonsense tough guy Sam Spade. I wasn't overly impressed with Mary Astor's performance in the film; <more>
she wasn't a compelling love interest and failed to live up to the script's strong characterization. Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, however, completely make up for Astor's performance.This film was John Huston's debut film, and it doesn't really feel like a debut film. It's quite accomplished, actually. The film is heavily stylized, perhaps more than any other film before it. It is also unflinching in its moral ambiguity it was named the first film in the 'film-noir' genre by French critic Nino Frank, though I think other films qualify such as Howard Hawks' "Scarface" portraying harsh, cruel, cold individuals. Sam Spade is a realistic character, stylized perhaps, but realistic. He is not the perfect John Wayne all-American hero; he is harsh, cold, and even capable of murder. When his partner is killed Spade does not feel much of anything, reacting indifferently to the death and even kissing his widow during their first meeting after he hears the news. John Huston wanted this film to be more character-based and less plot-based than the two previous adaptations of the novel which he called 'wretched pictures' . The care taken to provide good characterization in the script is clear to the audience. Indeed, "The Maltese Falcon" has a fairly complicated plot and it's easy to understand how a film can get bogged down in the plot and fail to entertain the audience or even tell a good story. Huston made a wise choice in reducing the plot to the background and focusing on the characters and dialogue.Huston also pays close attention to visual composition of shots, painstakingly recreating the sleazy underbelly of San Francisco. San Francisco is traditionally used in film as a romantic setting, and it is remarkable how drastically different Huston's portrayal of the city is from the norm and how effective it is. Huston, after writing the very fun and smart script, storyboarded every scene in the film and the attention to detail is clear to those viewing the film. Often such meticulous planning carries over to the screen and interrupts the dramatic flow, but not in this case. The film flows exceptionally well and feels much shorter than its 100 minute running time. The result of all the care that went into the film is, by all accounts, excellent entertainment. It's smart, stylish, generally well-acted, and always captivating. "The Maltese Falcon" is surely one of the most promising debut films in history, promise and potential which Huston most certainly delivered on later in his career.****/4
Spoilers herein.There are films which shuffle the vocabulary of past films, and then there are the few films which add to that vocabulary. This is one such, and all the more remarkable because it was Huston's first.His vision was shocking and established a new genre. The conventional filmmaking skills are pretty poor on this. The photography is soso, the editing poor, the women's acting atrocious. But the manipulation of the narrative in this way was new to film.Until this point in Hollywood product, the camera was the surrogate of the theater audience-goer. You could trust it. The <more>
convention was that you the camera would know more than the characters you see. And everything would make sense.Here, some new things are introduced:-- the world is against the characters; everyone's life is bleak; no happy ending is in sightMany people think this defines noir. Later, the photography would be bleak as well. but there is another innovation here:-- the world is against you the viewer to the same extent as the characters. You get no special breaks.This was a big deal. The same year, Orson Welles would break the position of the camera. No longer would it be bound to where a human would be naturally placed. But here, the very soul of the viewer was compromised: you are swept up in the rules of the created world.That created world itself wasn't so novel to the book writers, but the notion of a mystery gave a special scaffold. The whole game there is to establish a detective in the world. Then there is a game among you, the detective and the author to see who can outguess whom. It was a great invention in narrative.Here, you still have three players, all trying to trick one another, but the author gets in the first trick -- declaring that you do not have the safety of your seat, your perspective, your own world: you have to live in the created world, the same as Spade.The Malta business was built into the book to add some notion of the ancient supernatural as an excuse to disrupt the reader. They got it all historically wrong they meant the Knights Templar, the same folks who hid Indiana Jones' ark , and in any case glossed over that element in the translation from book to film. I think Huston was smart enough to know what he was doing. I don't think the actors were. Fortunately, Bogart was effectively mean. But for my money Sidney Greenstreet is the genius here. He is the one around whom this noir world is created, so with Huston can be considered the co-inventors of the genre.As with Huston, this was Greenstreet's first film. Imagine that.
Early film noir sets standards by explaining human race. (by Banshee57)
This film is known for being the definitive film noir. Twists, capers, madmen, seduction, betrayal, and murder, and all for what? A desirable object that may or may not be what we all hope it to be. This film is a classic statement on the human race, as a creature, or a population of greedy, powerful men. Bogart is swift and smooth,doing what he does best in this crime/drama. Many films that capture, or try to capture the same essence that this film creates are such movies as "Entrapment" and "Wild Things". The latter movie turned out to be a rather different story, but <more>
the previous is a good example of a modern film noir. The statement made at the end of the film describes the falcon as "the stuff dreams are made of". Back in 1941, we as humans were not ready to have this kind of power, and now, that propositions still goes today. "Sphere" has a good way of telling the same story at the end as Dustin Hoffmann explains that the human race cannot handle having a power of manifestation. Even though that is a totally different movie, it is still the same message to be said. It's a shame the message has been muddied all over in the past 60+ years. Maybe we will realize this again, until then? We as creatures are evil, greedy beings. Will there ever be an end???
Absorbing and worthy suspense film about blackmails , killings , corruption and strong intrigue (by ma-cortes)
This one of the all-time grand films , a classic Noir Film with gritty interpretation , atmospheric settings and powerhouse filmmaking , at John Huston's first effort directorial . This is a story as explosive as his blazing automatics . Womanizer Sam Sapade is a two-fisted and cynical private detective operating in the big city . When his secretary tells him the new customer Mary Astor waiting outside his office is a knockout, he wastes no time before seeing her. It turns out she's a knockout with money. And she wants to spend it on his services as a private detective . This lovely <more>
dame with dangerous lies employs the services of the notorious private detective . She has some story about wanting to protect her sister. Neither he nor his partner, Miles Archer, believes it. But with the money she's paying, who cares? The job proves to be more dangerous than either of them expected. It involves not just the lovely dame with the dangerous lies, but also the sweaty Casper Gutman Sidney Greenstreet , the fey Joel Cairo Peter Lorre , and the thuggish young Wilmer Cook Elisha Cook Jr . Three crooks, and all of them are looking for the statuette of a black bird they call the Maltese Falcon . Spade is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon . As Sam fights to get hold of a black bird ¨the stuff that dreams are made¨ a line suggested by Humphrey Bogart was voted as the #14 movie quote by the American Film Institute . This first-rate and entertaining picture draws its riveting tale and power from the interaction of finely drawn roles as well as drama , emotion and moody atmosphere . This classic mystery thriller follows Dashiell Hammett's book fairly closely otherwise , he also wrote ¨The thin man¨. Twisted film Noir about murders , troubled relationships , treason , dark secrets , including an unforgettable dialog ; being based on the novel ¨The Maltese Falcon¨¨and screen-written by the same Huston . Frustrated at seeing his script for Juárez 1939 rewritten by Paul Muni, the film's star, John Huston vowed that from then on he would direct his own screenplays and therefore not have to see them get meddled with. He was fortunate in that he had a staunch ally in the form of producer Henry Blanke who was happy to fulfill Huston's wish. Word-for-word and scene-for-scene virtually the same as the original novel. It packs a good realization , an original script , haunting atmosphere , intriguing events ; for that reason madness and murder prevail .The climactic confrontation scene lasts nearly 20 minutes, one-fifth of the entire running time of the film. It involves all five principal characters, and filming required over one full week . Here Bogart is extraordinary and as cool as ever ; he plays as the tough-talking P.I. Although George Raft was originally cast as Sam Spade , he allegedly turned it down because it was "not an important picture," taking advantage of a clause in his contract that said he did not have to work on remakes . For decades this film could not be legally shown on US television stations because of its underlying suggestions of "illicit" sexual activity among the characters i.e., O'Shaughnessy's promiscuity, indications that Joel Cairo was a homosexual . Much of the movie is filmed over Humphrey Bogart's shoulder so that the audience can be in on his point of view. His scenes with Mary Astor are awesome and at their best compared to those he subsequently shared with Lauren Bacall in ¨Dark passage¨ , ¨Key Largo¨ , ¨The big sleep¨ and ¨To have and to have not¨ . The couple Bogart-Astor throws in enough sparks to ignite several lighters . This was the first pairing of cynical Humphrey Bogart and Femme Fatale Mary Astor . Mary Astor's off-screen notoriety was instrumental in her casting , she had been in several scandals concerning affairs she had been involved in during her marriage. And she was having an affair with John Huston during the making of the film. Magnificent support cast , here was the first pairing of Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, who would go on to make nine more movies together. Exciting as well as complex film , possessing a mysterious and fascinating blend of gripping thriller , serenity , baroque suspense in which especially stands out the portentous performances , evocative cinematography in black and white by Arthur Edeson and magnificent musical score by the classic Adolph Deutsch . And also shown in horrible computer-colored version . The motion picture was masterfully directed by John Huston ; filming was completed in two months at a cost of less than $300,000. A former version in 1931 by Roy Del Ruth , it was also pretty good starred by Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly , Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade , Dudley Digges as Casper Gutman and Una Merkel as Effie Perine . In fact , Warner Bros. planned to change the name of the film to "The Gent from Frisco" because the novel's title had already been used for this The Maltese Falcon 1931 , the studio eventually agreed to keep the original title at John Huston's insistence.
It's very good but Bogart did several better films AND it was nearly a duplicate of the 1931 version (by MartinHafer)
I liked THE MALTESE FALCON and think it's a very good example of Warner Brothers Film Noir. However, for me, I can't see why this is among the very highest rated Bogart films on IMDb. Of course CASABLANCA is rated highest this is no surprise , but I actually preferred a few of Bogart's less famous films over THE MALTESE FALCON such as THE CAINE MUTINY . Instead of discussing all that has already been stated in many other reviews, I'll explain the one failing I noticed in this otherwise exceptional film. Despite the film being Noir, it had a surprisingly small amount of <more>
action and towards the end, it is way too talky as they explained the plot--sort of like they were filling in the missing pieces--most of which seemed like guesswork on Sam Spade's part. I really think the script could have been tightened up in this regard. Still, with exceptional supporting actors, a great cynical performance by Bogie AND the best last ten minutes you'll find in almost any film, it still is an exceptional film--well worth seeing.Also, I recently saw the 1931 MALTESE FALCON starring Ricardo Cortez. While Cortez was not as exciting in the lead as Bogart, the film was in many places word-for-word the same film. Dudley Diggs' version of the Fat Man was also essentially copied by Sidney Greenstreet a decade later.By the way, I have never seen an explanation for this, but I noticed one odd thing about the film. When Sidney Greenstreet is slashing at the statue and yelling, the voice does not appear to be his but was dubbed by another actor. I've seen the film several times and last time I even reviewed this scene and it just doesn't sound like him actually, it sounds a little like Claude Rains . I assume it was inserted sloppily later but am surprised others didn't point this out as well. If you can help explain this, drop me a line.