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Year:
1941
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
8.2
Director:
John Huston

 

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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
The Maltese Falcon 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
'I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble."
A great film noir featuring the hugely talented and suave Humphrey Bogart. Bogart was a phenomenal character, playing the smooth detective. The story was very unpredictable and had several plot twists that kept my interest in the film. The action was very fast-paced and exciting. The lighting was very dramatic causing sharp shadows and low-lit streets which cause for an eerie and suspenseful style. The visual composition was very well done and the editing was flawless. Though the ending didn't provide all the information or tie up every single loose end, it was still satisfying and mysterious. Overall it was a great film for anyone who enjoys film noir.
2014-12-13
A well paced thriller
History's first film noir, characterized by cynicism and "immoral" sexual attraction, The Maltese Falcon is a masterpiece of the crime drama genre. The opening theme music is ominous with lots of brass and strings. The cinematography throughout is nothing less than cool, with lots of low key lighting and sharp contrasts. The protagonist, Sam Spade, is a classic Bogart character. He is extremely intuitive, intelligent, and charismatic. Though he is weary of trusting law enforcement as a private detective, his independent case work yields great success and collaboration between himself and the police. Spade's counterpart is a woman named Ruth who goes by Brigid for the majority of the film, due to her ties to criminal activity. The viewer can sense that Spade knows Brigid is a liar and guilty of murder, but his affection for her jeopardizes the viewer's certainty about Brigid being brought to justice. However, Spade values his work more and eventually turns Brigid in to the cops. Overall, this film is extremely well written and expertly paced. There are no slow scenes and from the first scene the viewer is drawn intensely into the narrative.
2017-03-09
Maltese Falcon ***
This is supposedly one of the first of the film noir genre, but I ask, what's the big fuss here?

Humphrey Bogart is Sam Spade and his partner, played by Jerome Cowan who briefly appears, is murdered.

Before the murder, both guys are visited by Mary Astor, who in reality, steals the film. A very complex woman, Astor first comes across as sympathetic and vulnerable, but as the film goes on, she is shown to be in the thick of murder and intrigue. For sure, she is certainly the femme fatale here. Lee Patrick is convincing as the widow of Cowan, who really loved Spade. Peter Laurie is up to his old cynicism as ever and Sydney Greenstreet again proves that he shall do whatever is possible to gain his objective, no matter how sinister he has to be.

The plot of trying to retrieve a valuable falcon statue from the crusade period is rather average at best.
2014-11-22
The First Film-Noir !!!
'The Maltese Falcon' is highly influential, oppressively dark and it presents a deeply pessimistic view of the world and life in Depression Era USA. The screenplay is very carefully structure and maneuvered to keep the viewer in the dark for almost the entirety of the film just like its protagonist Sam Spade. There is very impressive camera-work and crafty usage of lighting on show here which to a great extent laid down the framework for the visual language for film-noir. Reminiscent of German Expressionism, we see deliberately prominent shadows everywhere and a big chunk of the film gets engulfed by an oppressively, dark visual texture complimenting the thematic tone of the film. Like other noir films, the characters, including Spade himself are deliberately made to lack a sense of morality and they are shown to be greedy emotionless organisms who have opted to choose a life involving a constant pursuit of material gains, instead of being burdened by the worthless weight of a conscience.

However if I have to be honest, even though I found myself relatively pleased and impressed by Huston's edginess and the colourful characters, I was never really bowled over by the film. I can easily understand and admire why it is so influential and important in American film history, but I'd be lying if I say the film and its contents lingered in my thoughts for a long time after it came to its conclusion. Whenever there is a film where the director is deliberately forcing the characters and the plot to remain and feel distant to the viewer, it has to be captivating and for the lack of a more appropriate term - fun. I find this aforementioned fun(along with thematic depth) in abundance while watching other noir films like 'Sunset Boulevard', 'Sweet Smell of Success', 'Ace in the Hole', etc. to name a few. Unfortunately 'The Maltese Falcon' never did manage to give me a similar fun experience at least on this first viewing which prevented me from being swept up by the film.

I admire the quippy, razor sharp dialogue, I admire the technical elements like Huston and his cinematographer's lighting and intricate camera-work, I admire the colourful characters and the actors portraying them, but unfortunately I couldn't 'love' the film and as a whole it left me a bit underwhelmed.
2017-05-02
Bird Breeds Greed
Ward Bond plays a cop in The Maltese Falcon. The actor with the most appearances in American Film Institute Top 100 movies (7 in all) is electric in this picture His charisma catches your eye and his final line "huh?" should've been on the AFI's list of Top 100 Quotes. Bond's performance is...

I'm just jerkin' your chain! Yeah, Ward Bond acts in the most AFI films and he does play a cop here, but Humphrey Bogart is the story. This was Bogie's big breakout (along with High Sierra that same year) and he lights it up. The man paid his dues for a while and played the heavy in 1930s films before they finally gave him the chance to be a leading man. Interesting that he often played shady "heroes"---including in The Maltese Falcon---rather than being straight-up nice-nice.

Bogie's Sam Spade sees his partner get killed and he gains (and then loses) a love interest all in what seems like a few days. He also comes one phony statue shy of being a rich man. They all want that bird. Crooks all. Each of the villains in this piece is memorable: Sydney Greenstreet (debutting as Kasper Gutman), Peter Lorre (slimy and fey), Elisha Cook (weird, as always) and Mary Astor (constantly on the verge of hysteria or passing out).

The last half-hour is tense, yet it's just 5 people waiting around in a room. Writer/director John Huston (in his own breakout) didn't change much from Dashiell Hammett's novel, making him a smart writer/director. Apparently, the AFI agreed. They had it at 23rd and then 31st on their 2 Top 100 lists. They're correct. This one is a honey. And Bogart is outstanding. He still had Casablanca and Treasure Of The Sierra Madre in his future, but his work in Falcon is...corny alert...the stuff that dreams are made of. And then Ward Bond follows with "huh?" See? Great follow-up line. Attaboy, Wardo!

If you dug this snapshot review, check out the website I share with my wife (www.top100project.com) and go to the "Podcasts" section for our 38-minute Maltese Falcon 'cast...and many others. Or find us on Itunes under "Top 100 Project".
2013-11-27
Interesting Crime Drama
A main focus of this film was the relationship between the characters, more so how they interacted with each other, not necessarily how they changed in the end. Sort of like a chain reaction? Spade takes on a case, his partner ends up killed and that sets off the entire movie. Though Spade seemed indifferent towards the death of his partner, and was rather a little intimate with his wife, his motives were clear if you ask me. He was going to get revenge, but Spade isn't the kind of person to just go about and spill his true feelings to anyone.

I find that the movie did its job with the interactions and relationships. The script was well done and it helped you along the way. Who really did kill who? What's the real motive and why? The Maltese Falcon was well done Crime Drama considering it's based off a novel.
2014-10-18
Classic Detective Picture.
John Huston directed this all-time classic detective picture that stars Humphrey Bogart as San Francisco private detective Sam Spade, who takes the case of a mysterious woman named Brigid O'Shaughnessy(played by Mary Astor) Things quickly turn violent when his partner Miles Archer is murdered, and Sam finds himself in trouble with the law,and soon meets up with two more suspicious characters called Kasper Gutman(played by Sydney Greenstreet) & Joel Cairo(played by Peter Lorre) who are in search of a valuable statue called the Maltese Falcon, which is worth a fortune, but has proved elusive to obtain. Elisha Cook Jr. costars as inexperienced gunman Wilmer Cook. Superbly written, directed, and acted picture is a treat from start to finish, with witty dialogue and atmosphere to burn, leading to unforgettable finale. Not to be missed.
2013-11-05
The Greek dealer, Charilaos Konstantinides
I can attest to that it's a great joy to revisit a classic and be able to testify to its power. This is augmented by the fact that it's the one famous John Huston film I did not like, and I consider Huston the most talented and diverse of his Hollywood generation, he took more risks than anyone, with the possible exception of Hitchcock, but when Huston gambled - Freud, Fat City, Wise Blood - it was not to titillate his audience.

We know this as the film that set the ball rolling on noir, a conventional credit, since a long tradition supports it both in film and print, but very much like Kane the previous year, the innovation here is that a large array of cinematic elements is made to coalesce into a confident, polished expression. Huston did not invent film noir, but watching this you get the impression that he might as well have.

Now I was not a fan of this before because it lacked the most powerful engine of film noir; the invisible karmic design. It comes not from the Weimar narrative but the American print tradition of hardboiled detectives making the world spin fast enough to reveal itself. No, what this has going for it is something altogether different, either taken wholesale from Hammett or improvised by Huston on the set with this dreamy set of actors.

The game is overcooked detective plot mischievously annotated with commentary on the process.

Your first clue is the many times that Fat Man refers to Spade as a 'character', like a viewer gleefully amused from his armchair at Bogie's bluster and theatrics in his living-room. Bogie himself plays Spade like an actor performing according to the situation, and he's often seen exiting a scene of dangerous confrontation highly amused at his show.

Your second clue is the many times that Spade drops hints of the movie being assembled around him, for instance commenting on the plot that it's 'ridiculous... or thrilling', or 'the lowlier the crook, the gaudier the patter' while he's very much a crook himself and spouting the gaudiest patter throughout the film. You can tell that everyone's having a helluva time playing their part, the effect is that often it feels like we're eavesdropping on a rehearsal; a story has to unfold at face value, while everyone relishes perfecting their trade. This is never more obvious than when the two policemen storm the hideout and everyone chimes in on the ridiculous story Bogie makes up on the spot.

Third clue and one that wraps everything together, let's say the totemic object at the center of the ritual, is of course the highly coveted bird. We're told quite openly; the treasure was enameled to obscure it not once but twice, and of course the whole story behind it - involving knights, kings, buccaneers, and spanning centuries - is bogus, Huston's fabrication.

So not one but two layers of polish concealing the thing that matters.

One is of course the actual plot, a pedestrian, convoluted affair designed to throw off the audience into piecing together improbable clues and stories. Following this thread, you get the trite resolution that the actual bird is back in Istanbul with a Russian general Kemidov. Of course the film is going to seem slight for so much energy spent. Fortunately, this is easy to peel off now.

The second layer is that every actor is performing two roles, and you don't know most of the time which one's on top. This is a little harder to keep track of because the camera will not clue you in, you have to closely follow the rehearsal. An example of this is near the end, when Bogie and Astor are taken in by the gang and Bogie for the umpteenth time starts riling up the gunsel - notably the only one in all this who's not an actor and basically this unpleasant stiff we first see, with no hidden dimensions, made to be German presumably so WWII US audiences would cheer at the abuse he suffers at the hands of Spade.

The Fat Man presumes that Spade is merely bluffing because he knows they can't kill him so long as he knows where the bird is hidden. We presume this is part of the gaudy patter that buys time, and that Bogie is putting on a show. What is actually going on, is that Spade brings the gunsel to the boiling point where he knows he can knock him off and put his hands on the only gun in the room.

So ridiculous detective story plus layered acting by the participants slipping from characters to commentators, all the fun being in following the roles a moment too late, being a step behind, the whole being spun again as the viewer is starting to orientate.

And a whole other post should be devoted to the commentary of sizzling sexuality pushed off-screen to sidestep the Code, the shared soul between the three women, that Spade's secretary - a spinster, living with her mother - is in fact the highly deductive/detective mind, the cinematic history the bird maps to - rediscovered in 1923 in Paris and taken to Russia and out again.
2012-04-14
Maltese Falcon
I really enjoyed watching The Maltese Falcon. Film Noirs are always exciting to watch to me. It takes place in San Francisco and is about two partners, Sam Spade and Miles Archer, who are both detectives. A woman by the name of Miss Ruth Wonderly entered their office one night in hopes of hiring them to help her find her sister that is missing. Chaos breaks out the night Mrs. Wonderly came and asked them for help. Archer was killed while he was tailing a man. Nobody is who they say they are and Sam didn't realize what he had gotten himself into when he agreed to help Mrs. Wonderly. People are dying all over the place and people are put in danger all because they were in search of a golden statue of a falcon. Sam confronts "Mrs Wonderly" who was now known as Brigid O'Shaughnessy at the end of the movie about killing Archer where she admits that she did but begged him to not turn her in. Sam ended up turning her in and ending her life of crime and destruction that she was living. The lighting changes a lot throughout the movie as well as the lengths of long and short takes. They both change a lot throughout the film. The Maltese Falcon was entertaining to watch!
2015-05-12
Maltese Falcon (1941
Sam Spade and Miles Archer are private investigators who reside in San Francisco. They are hired by Ruth Wonderly to her find her sister, who has runaway. Wonderly wants to meet the man she believes her sister is mixed up with, Floyd Thusby.

After the investigators meet with Wonderly; Archer and Thursby are killed and Wonderly has checked out of her hotel room. As the film progresses, you learn Wonderly's real name is Brigid O'Shaughnessy. After she confesses her real name, Spade then agrees to take on her case.

This movie definitely did not turn out the way I expected. There are many twist and turns in this film. I thought it was going to turn out to be your normal love story where the boy gets the girl, but that definitely did not happen.
2014-10-18
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