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The Maltese Falcon (3-Oct-1941)

Director: John Huston

Writer: John Huston

From novel: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Music by: Adolph Deutsch

Keywords: Mystery, Treasure Hunt

A woman hires private detectives Sam Spade and Miles Archer to locate her sister, who supposedly in the company of Floyd Thursby. Both Archer and Thursby turn up dead, the woman isn't who she claims she was, and a shady character named Joel Cairo offers spade $5,000 to find an antique statue of a Maltese Falcon. Hard boiled detective tale and early film noir is John Huston's directorial debut, coming in $50,000 under budget. George Raft turned down the lead role, contending "this is not an important picture." Received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay. Entered 1989 into the National Film Registry. Dashiell Hammett's novel saw two earlier adaptations, The Maltese Falcon (1931) and Satan Met a Lady (1936).

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NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Mary Astor
3-May-1906 25-Sep-1987 The Maltese Falcon
Humphrey Bogart
25-Dec-1899 14-Jan-1957 Casablanca
Ward Bond
9-Apr-1903 5-Nov-1960 Wagon Train
Elisha Cook, Jr.
26-Dec-1903 18-May-1995 The Maltese Falcon
Jerome Cowan
6-Oct-1897 24-Jan-1972 Miracle on 34th Street
Gladys George
13-Sep-1900 8-Dec-1954 Valiant Is the Word for Carrie
Sydney Greenstreet
27-Dec-1879 18-Jan-1954 Kaspar Gutman in The Maltese Falcon
Peter Lorre
26-Jun-1904 23-Mar-1964 The Maltese Falcon
Barton MacLane
25-Dec-1902 1-Jan-1969 Gen. Peterson on I Dream of Jeannie
Lee Patrick
22-Nov-1901 21-Nov-1982 Henrietta Topper on Topper


Humphrey Bogart   ...   Sam Spade
Mary Astor   ...   Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Gladys George   ...   Iva Archer
Peter Lorre   ...   Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane   ...   Lt. of Detectives Dundy
Lee Patrick   ...   Effie Perine
Sydney Greenstreet   ...   Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond   ...   Det. Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan   ...   Miles Archer
Elisha Cook, Jr.   ...   Wilmer Cook
James Burke   ...   Luke
Murray Alper   ...   Frank Richman
John Hamilton   ...   Bryan


Review by Mark J. Shallow (posted on 12-Dec-2008)

It is a daunting task to take a film that ranks prominently among the AFI's 100 Most Influential films and bring it down a notch or two, but it seems like this version of Dashiell Hammett's gritty detective yarn is not the pristine classic that so many people think it is. More daunting still is to cite the major flaw as being the performance given by Humphrey Bogart in what is generally thought to be the role that made him a star(CASABLANCA did that). Bogart's characterization seems stilted, and at times, forced. As often as not, he's not so much breathing life into his lines as merely speaking them. When Joel Cairo comes to his office and attempts, in vain, to find the falcon, Bogart's laugh lacks credibility. His thrusts and jabs with Brigid O'Shaughnessey seem like recitations from a handbook given to all private detectives on how to deal with sultry female clents. When he tries to exert his authority over Kaspar Gutman, he comes off as more smug than anything else. Hammett's Sam Spade is hard-boiled. Bogart makes him look and feel more like he's poached. As a side note, an infinitely more satisfying potrayal of a private eye by Bogart can be seen in the Howard Hawks version of Raymond Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP.

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