The Maltese Falcon (1941) Poster

Sydney Greenstreet: Kasper Gutman



  • Kasper Gutman : I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it's possible to get another. There's only one Maltese Falcon.

  • Kasper Gutman : You're a close-mouthed man?

    Sam Spade : Nah, I like to talk.

    Kasper Gutman : Better and better. I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking's something you can't do judiciously, unless you keep in practice.

    [sits back] 

    Kasper Gutman : Now, sir. We'll talk, if you like. I'll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.

    Sam Spade : Swell. Will we talk about the black bird?

  • Kasper Gutman : I distrust a man who says "when." If he's got to be careful not to drink too much, it's because he's not to be trusted when he does.

  • Kasper Gutman : The best goodbyes are short. Adieu.

  • Sam Spade : [impatiently]  Now, let's *talk* about the black bird.

    Kasper Gutman : Let's. Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can be got for that black bird?

    Sam Spade : No.

    Kasper Gutman : Well, sir, if I told you... If I told you *half*... you'd call me a liar.

    Sam Spade : No, not even if I thought so.

  • Kasper Gutman : Well, sir, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names... or shall we go to Istanbul?

    Joel Cairo : Are you going?

    Kasper Gutman : Seventeen years I've wanted that little item and I've been trying to get it. If we must spend another year on the quest... well, sir, it will be an additional expenditure in time of only... five and fifteen seventeenths percent.

  • Sam Spade : Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.

    Kasper Gutman : Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.

  • Sam Spade : If you kill me, how are you going get the bird? And if I know you can't afford to kill me, how are you going to scare me into giving it to you?

    Kasper Gutman : Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill.

    Sam Spade : Yes, that's... That's true. But, there're none of them any good unless the threat of death is behind them. You see what I mean? If you start something, I'll make it a matter of your having to kill me or call it off.

    Kasper Gutman : That's an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgment on both sides. Because, as you know, sir, in the heat of action men are likely to forget where their best interests lie and let their emotions carry them away.

    Sam Spade : Then the trick from my angle is to make my play strong enough to tie you up, but not make you mad enough to bump me off against your better judgment.

    Kasper Gutman : By gad, sir, you are a character.

  • Kasper Gutman : Here's to plain speaking and clear understanding.

  • Kasper Gutman : By Gad, sir, you are a character. There's never any telling what you'll say or do next, except that it's bound to be something astonishing.

  • Kasper Gutman : These are facts, historical facts, not schoolbook history, not Mr. Wells' history, but history nevertheless.

  • Sam Spade : Here.

    [hands him Wilmer's guns] 

    Sam Spade : You shouldn't let him go around with these on him, he might get himself hurt.

    Kasper Gutman : Well, well, what's this?

    Sam Spade : A crippled newsie took 'em away from him. I made him give 'em back.

  • Kasper Gutman : That's an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgment on both sides. 'Cause as you know, sir, in the heat of action men are likely to forget where their best interests lie and let their emotions carry them away.

  • Kasper Gutman : This is going to be the most astounding thing you have ever heard of, sir, and I say that knowing that a man of your caliber, in your profession, must have known some astounding things in his time. What do you know, sir, about the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, later known as the Knights of Rhodes and other things?

    Sam Spade : Crusaders or something, weren't they?

    Kasper Gutman : Very good. In 1539, these crusading knights persuaded the Emperor Charles V to give them the island of Malta. He made them but one condition: They were to pay him, each year, the tribute of one falcon, in acknowledgment that Malta was still under Spain. Do you have any conception of the extreme, the immeasurable wealth of the Order at that time?

    Sam Spade : I imagine they were pretty well fixed

    Kasper Gutman : Pretty well is putting it mildly. They were rolling in wealth, sir. For years they had taken from the East, nobody knows what spoils of gems, of precious metals, silks, ivories, sir. We all know that the Holy Wars were to them largely a matter of loot. The Knights were profoundly grateful to the Emperor Charles for his generosity toward them. They hit upon the happy thought of sending him for the first year's tribute, not an insignificant live bird, but a glorious golden falcon, encrusted from head to feet with the finest jewels in their coffers. Well, sir, what do you think of that?

    Sam Spade : I don't know.

    Kasper Gutman : These are facts, sir. Not school book history, not Mr. Wells's history, but history nevertheless. They sent this foot-high jeweled bird to Charles, who was then in Spain. They sent it in a galley commanded by a member of the Order. It never reached Spain. A famous admiral of buccaneers took the Knight's galley and the bird. In 1713 it turned up in Sicily. In 1840 it appeared in Paris. It had by then acquired a coat of black enamel so that it looked like nothing more than a fairly interesting black statuette. In that disguise, sir, it was, you might say, kicked around Paris for more than three score years, by private owners too stupid to see what it was under the skin... Then in 1923, a Greek dealer named Charilaos Konstantinides found it in an obscure shop. No thickness of enamel could conceal value from his eyes. You begin to believe me a little?

  • Kasper Gutman : You begin to believe me a little?

    Sam Spade : I haven't said I didn't.

    Kasper Gutman : Well, sir, to hold it safe while pursuing his researches into its history, Charliaos re-enameled the bird. Despite that precaution, I got wind of his find. Ah, sir, if only I had known a few days sooner. I was in London when I heard. I packed a bag and took the boat train immediately. On the train I opened a paper, The Times, and read that Charilaos' establishment had been burglarized and him murdered. Sure enough, I discovered upon arriving there that the bird was gone. That was seventeen years ago. Well, sir, it took me seventeen years to locate that bird, but I did. I wanted it and I'm not a man that's easily discouraged when I want something. I traced it to the home of a Russian general - one Kemidov - in an Istanbul suburb. He didn't know a thing about it. It was nothing but a black enameled figure to him, but his natural contrariness kept him from selling it to me when I made him an offer. So I sent some - ah - agents to get it. Well, sir, they got it, and I haven't got it. But I'm going to get it... Your glass, sir.

    Sam Spade : Then the bird doesn't belong to any of you but to a General Kemidov?

    Kasper Gutman : Well, sir, you might say it belonged to the King of Spain, but I don't see how you can honestly grant anybody else clear title to it - except by right of possession. Well, now, before we start to talk prices, how soon can you - or how soon are you willing to produce the Falcon?

  • Kasper Gutman : It's the Russian's hand, there's no doubt about it.

See also

Release Dates | Official Sites | Company Credits | Filming & Production | Technical Specs

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