Sunday, February 15, 2015

On video: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

I read Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon when I was in high school. I knew there'd been a film version with Humphrey Bogart as detective Sam Spade, and it was just a matter of time before I obtained the film on video or DVD.

Anyway, personal thoughts aside, it was the directorial debut of John Huston, and it's a dandy.

Spade starts off as 1/2 of a firm with Miles Archer, who ends up getting killed while tailing a possible suspect when the partners are hired by Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor). It all has to do with the titular bird, a statue that dates back centuries, and is pursued also by Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and Kasper Gutman, a most polite individual (Sidney Greenstreet). When we first meet Cairo, he makes the mistake of drawing a gun on Spade in the detective's office, and winds up eating a quick KO. To think that Bogart, Lorre, & Greenstreet would team again in "Casablanca". Warner Bros. must've treated them pretty well. If you've never read the book or previously seen the movie, trust me, the twist ending is not too surprising.

Anyway, here's a trailer to get you interested.

Too bad there weren't any sequels. WB could've made a ton using the Sam Spade radio show as a template for later films.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

If you think this film is a hoot, perhaps you should see the original version.

Yup - this film is actually a remake of a film made a decade earlier. In that one, there's a lot more explicit stuff - being pre-Code and all. Ricardo Corez plays Sam Spade.

You get stuff shown on cam that was barely hinted at in the remake. Definitely worth a compare and contrast.

hobbyfan said...

Did not know there was an earlier version. WHOA!