Critic Reviews

96

Metascore

Based on 15 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
The movie is essentially a series of conversations punctuated by brief, violent interludes. It's all style. It isn't violence or chases, but the way the actors look, move, speak and embody their characters.
100
Empire
The Maltese Falcon is an unassailable triumph of script, casting, direction and editing.
100
The film that brought the detective movie into the modern world, complete with novel film-noir techniques (shadows, low-angled shots, anti-heroes and duplicitous dames) and assembled one of the most enjoyable casts ever to play off each other.
100
It's the slickest exercise in cerebration that has hit the screen in many months, and it is also one of the most compelling nervous-laughter provokers yet.
100
On a number of accounts it is distinguished celluloid entertainment, but it is of great interest to the trade because it reveals, in startling terms, the unheralded talent of topflight scenarist, John Huston, who, in the dual capacity of writer and director of this picture, is now entitled to take his place among the most important creative artists in the industry.
100
This is one of the best examples of actionful and suspenseful melodramatic story telling in cinematic form. Unfolding a most intriguing and entertaining murder mystery, picture displays outstanding excellence in writing, direction, acting and editing--combining in overall as a prize package of entertainment for widest audience appeal.
100
A stunning directorial debut from screenwriter John Huston.
90
The Maltese Falcon is the first crime melodrama with finish, speed and bang to come along in what seems ages, and since its pattern is one of the best things Hollywood does, we have been missing it.
90
What makes it a prototype film noir is the vein of unease missing from the two earlier versions of Hammett's novel. Filmed almost entirely in interiors, it presents a claustrophobic world animated by betrayal, perversion and pain, never - even at its most irresistibly funny, as when Cook listens in outraged disbelief while his fat sugar daddy proposes to sell him down the line - quite losing sight of this central abyss of darkness, ultimately embodied by Mary Astor's sadly duplicitous siren.
88
With Hammett's dialogue incorporated virtually verbatim into the screenplay, Bogart in top form, and Huston allowed total directorial freedom, watching this first of the films noir is an experience to be embraced.

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