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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
One of Humphey Bogart's Best
The Maltese Falcon isn't about the treasure of legend. Its about Private Detective Sam Spade's undertaking to find it. Humphrey Bogart play the part of aloof detective perfectly. Yet even though Sam doesn't personally care about anything in the mystery he still controls the scenes. The rest of the cast's performance don't match his but do perform considerably well. Although Mary Astor's performance as Brigid O'Shaughnessy is lacking. She never gives the impression she has any sort of plan or purpose, that she is weaving things behind the scenes, even though the script tells us she does. This stands out starkly when Sam and Brigid are alone together. The mystery is quite intricate as well, never once confusing the viewer but still not letting on any concrete clues. One flaw is that the score does not match the tone of the film. Whenever Sam successfully tricks another character in the film dainty lighthearted music plays. Supposedly this is to inform the viewer this is a clever "I gotcha" moment but it is unnecessary and lasts too long. Dainty music does not fit well in a dark crime mystery. Bogart's great performance holds this film together despite some immersion breaking flaws.
2015-10-21
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Humphrey Bogart makes his highly deserved tryst with super-stardom in John Huston's directorial debut
Seven decades have passed but the suspense and thrill of The Maltese Falcon still reign supreme. The movie, despite being in black & white, appears strikingly refreshing both to the eyes and the intellect. Primarily remembered as John Huston's directorial debut, the movie played a decisive role in giving Film-Noire its true identity as a genre. The Maltese Falcon also gave Humphrey Bogart his highly deserved super-stardom that had hitherto eluded him. Huston creates an environment of suspicion, doubt and uncertainty that is so convoluted that even Hitchcock would be proud of it. The movie has multiple layers of mystery and suspense that keeps the viewer engaged throughout.

Sam Spade is a private detective who runs an agency with his partner Miles Archer. An ostensibly naive lady, Miss Wanderly offers them a task to pursue a man, Floyd Thursby, who has allegedly run off with her younger sister. The over-simplicity of task arouses Spade's suspicion, but Wanderly's lucrative offer makes the duo overlook it initially. Miles is killed during the pursuit and the police inform Spade of the mishap. Spade only discreetly tells the police that Miles was after a man named Thursby without disclosing anything about Miss Wandely. The police soon find Thursby dead as well and suspect Spade for killing him in an act of revenge. Soon Miles Archer's widow shows up at Spade's office and insinuates of her romantic involvement with Spade, who shuns her away after she tries to incriminate him for the murder. The police come across an anonymous lead and begin suspecting Spade for killing his partner, Miles. The plot thickens with the entry a couple of obscure characters including Joel Cairo, who happens be an acquaintance of Miss Wanderly. He is in pursuit of a highly precious, antique, gold statuette of Maltese Falcon and offers Spade five grands to help him find it. A game of cat and mouse soon ensues, between the various stake holders, which becomes deadlier as the stakes are raised.

Humphrey Bogart perfectly fits into the shoes of Spade—a sleek and sharp sleuth—and makes it his own in a manner that only someone of his grit and caliber could. Bogart is in top form right from the inception to the finale, stealing the spotlight in almost every scene that is he is part of. Bogart could only demonstrate his prodigious talent and acting prowess in short bursts during his long "B movie" stint in which he was mostly type-casted as a gangster. The Maltese Falcon was Bogart's big break after years of anticipation and he didn't leave a single stone unturned to prove his mettle. Bogart shows his class and stamps his authority as a performer during the portrayal of Spade: he is ever so quick-witted thanks to his sublime articulacy and his prowess at repartee seems unparalleled; the inherent cynicism in Spade and the perspicacity with which he operates soon became Bogart's trademark and catapulted him to super-stardom. Many regard Bogart's performance in Casablanca as his absolute best, but I rate his portrayal of Spade second only to his supernal portrayal of Dobbs in The Treasure of Sierre Madre, where he took acting to hitherto unattainable and unforeseeable heights.

John Huston uses the Midas touch he had as a screenwriter to strike all the right cords in his directorial debut. Almost everyone in the supporting cast gives a memorable performance with special mention of Peter Lorre as the deceptive Joel Cairo, Sydney Greenstreet as the witty yet dangerous Kasper Gutman and Mary Astor as the scheming Brigid O' Shaughnessy. The taut plot of the movie, which is masterfully adapted from the novel of the same name by Huston himself, is well complemented by the impressively written dialogs that are delivered with an equal prowess. Amidst the everlasting suspense the movie has an obvious undertone of dark humor that adds great value to the movie. The cinematography undoubtedly features amongst the best works of the time.

The Maltese Falcon is not merely a Noire masterpiece but also a testament to the true spirit of cinema that has kept itself alive despite decades of relentless mutilation and sabotage in the name of commercial movie-making. Despite being devoid of modern-day gimmicks the movie is incredibly high on suspense and holds the viewer in a vice-like grip throughout its runtime. It's a real shame that movies like these are seldom made these days. The tone of the movie is such that it makes suspense thrillers of today appear like kids cartoon.

PS. The movie is an ode to Bogart, Huston and all those who made it a reality. It's suspense cinema at its absolute best with a completely different treatment to themes propagated by the likes of Hitchcock. It's a must for all the Bogart fans worldwide, and absolutely essential for all those who have a penchant for Film-Noire as a genre. 10/10

http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/
2011-07-25
The Maltese Falcon Review
The Maltese Falcon was a great movie! An iconic scene was the end of the movie when the private detective realizes that the woman he has fallen in love with has killed his partner.

The main character hands the love of his life over to the police in the end; this shows his honesty and loyalty. Throughout the entire movie his goal is to find his partner's , not knowing it was the woman's case he was working on the entire time, and his/her motive behind it. The movie is primarily about deception lies and loyalty.

This movie goes hand in hand with the other Bogart film 'Casablanca' when the main character, Bogart, has to pull back together his tough guy image, after showing a more emotional side.
2014-10-11
Bogart makes it watchable.
Bogart made this film watchable. The rest of the cast acted well in it too though and and some of the dialogue is superb. However, upon viewing the film, I discovered that the story itself lacked any real zest or spark that could keep my interest. I had referred to the high rating on this website and the 5* rating Empire (film magazine) had given the film when it came to making my purchase, but needless to say I was very disappointed.

After much double crossing amongst the ensemble cast, the movie lets us know the movies main concerns - the whereabouts of the Maltese Falcon and who killed Miles Archer. By this time, however, I had lost interest in the film considerably and I was neither surprised to discover who had killed Mr Archer nor did I care for the character who had. Also, the fact that the Maltese Falcon itself doesn't turn up in the end made the main resolution of the film redundant, futile and again highly predictable.

So to conclude, I wouldn't call this movie good nor would I recommend you watch it. And the only reason it got 4/10 (2*) as oppose to 2/10(1*) is because of the intense and often intriguing performance of Humphrey Bogart as Samuel Spade.
2011-05-30
Jewel encrusted
Whenever I see this film I am always impressed with how good the story is.

These days we are used to brilliant crime/mystery series and movies on TV and cable, but back in its day "The Maltese Falcon" was head and shoulders over just about every film in the genre, which often had unbelievable stories and lightweight characters.

It not only had that great story, but crackling dialogue and a perfect cast. From Bogart as Sam Spade, Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy to Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet as Joel Cairo and Kaspar Gutman, the cast almost seemed divinely inspired.

When I finally read the book, I discovered that the great story and that crackling dialogue is in there: "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it…", "I distrust a man who says when…", and all the others, they were author Dashiell Hammett's all along.

But what director John Huston and the cast did was to bring the characters alive; they gave them shadings beyond Hammett's words. The film added to the book. That isn't always the case. How often has the indefinable magic in a book failed to come through in the film? But in this case the film added the magic.

Although Hammett came up with the plot and just about every word we hear spoken, it's hard not to picture Bogart as Sam Spade even when Hammett describes him as a blonde Satan.

No, something unique happened on that film, it was Huston's first directing job and he just laid out the pages, edited them a bit, and shot the whole thing pretty much in sequence – and he sharpened the ending.

In his impressively researched "The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre", author Stephen D. Youngkin tells how Lorre regarded this as the most enjoyable filmmaking experience of his career. Huston created a family atmosphere among the cast and crew. That wasn't necessarily the atmosphere Huston always created – Ray Bradbury on "Moby Dick" probably didn't think so – but this was his first film as director and there was no shortage of enthusiasm.

Although the film is nearly 80-years old, the story and the characters are so strong you soon forget that there isn't a smartphone or computer in sight. I love Bogart's tough, cynical Sam Spade, he's seen it all, but he is not without empathy.

In fact it's those characteristics that are the secret to all the truly successful PI's and cops in movies and on TV ever since.
2016-11-22
A story led by characters
The film had a great mystery (Which I wasn't spoiled on!) and a really diverse and interesting set of characters. Usually movies of this variety use their main character as a moral center; I really enjoyed that the Maltese Falcon didn't quite do that. Sure, Sam was our protagonist, but he was rough around the ages and put his feelings before those around him. That being said, my favorite relationship in the film was between him and his girl Friday, Effie. They worked against each other seamlessly and I would have gladly watched an entire movie about them.

As film noir goes, this is up there for me in favorites.
2014-04-18
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
Classic film-Noir, mysterious and interesting, but fails to deliver a solid climax.
The Maltese Falcon

Sam Space is a private detective, one day a mysterious woman comes to see her, she wants a man shadowed. Sam's partner does the job and gets killed, by who, is unknown. While investigating the murder he finds himself getting involved with dangerous men, seeking the myth of a Maltese Falcon statue, so valueable, they're willing to do anything it takes to get it.

This movie is most of the way a real original film-noir, where our head character and supposed good guy finds himself getting involved in something larger and more dangerous than he should be able to handle. Although whether Humprey Bogart is playing that good a guy in his character, Sam Spade, can be discussed, Sam Spade is portrayed as a sort of egocentric partly greedy man, who is obviously supposed to be our hero, but on his journey we see greedy and often cynic and egocentric sides of him.

The strength of this movie is the constant curiousity we have for how the story will unfold, there is always a mysterious look for the story, and it feels interesting because it is this detective story where we are participating in slowly unfolding the mystery. However, the movie has quite a few plot holes, and the many fast paced match cuts doesn't give us much time to think deeper into what's happening, everything is really going too fast, something that also means the atmosphere in the movie feels pretty non existant and my interest were never gathered 100%.

The acting in the movie is actually quite great, especially for this old a movie. In older movies I often think that the acting seems to many of the actors to be awkvard, but not in this movie, in this movie it's quite convincing, despite a few flaws, flaws though that is a part of giving this movie the charming oldies feel.

To sum it all up a bit. The movie, despite having quite a number of flaws, is overall an interesting experience, that will leave you guessing and hold your interest for most of the time, even though it has its drop downs, it's still a pretty well done mystery story, following the classic film-noir model much of the way. However despite having a good story, that unfolds good, but too fast, the movie never really managed to impress me with the climax, actually i felt the climax never reached the heights it should have. Something that leaves an overall less convincing opinion upon the movie, especially a murdery story like this, which is highly dependant on a good climax.

6/10
2004-05-23
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
3rd and most famous film version
i enjoyed this most famous version of the story.it's as good as the previous two.Humphrey Bogart plays the Sam Spade role and is good,there's no question there.but the real standout to me is Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo.Lorre exudes menace from every pore.he owns the movie in my opinion.i also liked Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman.overall,this third version is comparable to the other two.i can't say it's any better or worse.i think the reason it's so acclaimed is because it's directed by John Huston and Stars Humphrey Bogart,which doesn't automatically make it a better movie.don't get me wrong.it's a good film but i wonder how many people have actually watched the two previous version of this story first,and would this version bee rated as high if more people had seen the other versions first?anyway,for me, this third version of The Maltese Falcon is a 7/10
2010-03-30
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