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Bogart, the hero who was exactly right for his time…
Nazi_Fighter_David22 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Forties were the years when Hollywood decided that the mystery thriller deserved big-budget, big-star treatment, threw up a new kind of hero who was exactly right for his time: they were the fabulous years which established the private eye adventure as the irremovable all-time favorite in the whole field of suspense… The field was so rich, the choice so lavish in that decade, that it was difficult to know where memory should stop and call "Encore".

As the author of the screenplay, Huston made every effort to do justice, and remain faithful, to Dashiell Hammett's novel… But in remaining faithful, the newest version asked audiences to accept the complicated plot at its full strength and that is where the film's main flaw occurs… Names, murders, and intrigues turn up so quickly that it is extremely difficult to understand exactly what is happening in this tale of an assortment of characters in search of a fabulous jewel-encrusted statue…

Probably in no other film will a viewer find a gallery of such diverse human beings whose perfect1y constructed portrayals remain permanently locked in one's memory…

Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaughnessy is a striking picture of feminine deceit and betrayal… Able to shed tears on command, she is a confirmed liar who can be as deadly as she is beautiful; she can make passionate love to Bogart, but wouldn't hesitate a moment to kill him if it suited her plan… Her performance is surely one of the screen's most brilliant portrayals of duplicity masked with fascination…

Sydney Greenstreet, in his movie debut, was equally memorable as the menacingly mountainous man behind the search for the elusive black bird, and almost stole the picture… Cunning, determined, appreciative of the fine arts, Greenstreet—who seemed to get more dangerous as he got more imperturbably polite—is a man who would devote his entire life to a single quest if need be…

Peter Lorre's Joel Cairo was a resolute picture of classic villainy… With curled hair and impeccably clean dress, he is an unpredictable accomplice of Greenstreet, difficult to deal with…

But it is Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade that remains classic in its construction… Obviously cynical, he still maintains his own code of ethics which he adheres to faithfully… He is doubtful, but not foolhardy… He is courageous, but not without fear… Spade uses everyone he comes in contact with… He wins not because he's smarter than his enemies, but because he is the only character in a central position… Spade is every bit as ruthless as the crooks who try to use him… His tactics in dealing with them, however, are necessary for his survival...

His treatment of the two women in the film seems equally as harsh, but neither is a wide eyed innocent and both attempt to deceive him in one manner or another… His exchanges with Brigid O'Shaughnessy are electric... Their mutual attraction is undeniable... But Spade will play the fool for no woman… He is a loner, but he has contacts, and knows where to go for what he wants… Even with very little money, he is totally incorruptible… He has no apparent friends… He is laconic, but he can throw a wisecrack as fast as he can throw a punch...

"The Maltese Falcon" molded the image we remember of Bogart all through the early years of the Forties—an image elaborated upon and reinforced in "Casablanca," and the one which all Bogart fans remember with great affection and admiration…
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A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Humphrey Bogart makes his highly deserved tryst with super-stardom in John Huston's directorial debut
murtaza_mma25 July 2011
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

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The Fat Man Cometh
Lechuguilla4 November 2007
Considered by many film historians as the very first noir film, "The Maltese Falcon" is cinematically important also for making Humphrey Bogart into a Hollywood star, and for being the debut of John Huston as film Director.

The film's story is complex and convoluted, typical of detective films of that era, and involves a valuable statuette. The plot stalls and meanders throughout most of the film, as we encounter an assortment of strange characters and side issues. But this is not a plot-driven film. It is character-driven.

And the main character, of course, is PI Sam Spade (Bogart). He's not a particularly nice guy. He comes across as overconfident and egotistic. He smirks a lot. But he's tough as nails. And he knows how to nail the bad guys. A big part of the film is Spade's relationship to femme fatale Brigid (Mary Astor). They engage each other in a battle of wits. And there's more than a hint of romantic involvement between the two. But Brigid is the one who propels Spade into the deceiving and double-crossing world of bad guys who yearn with greed for the priceless Maltese Falcon.

Enter Kasper Gutman, that thoroughly rotund and intimidating (in a gentlemanly sort of way) king of greed, portrayed with verve and panache by the inimitable Sydney Greenstreet. Gutman, AKA the "Fat Man", is nothing if not erudite and self-assured. In one scene, Sam Spade makes a bold offer. Gutman responds articulately: "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 Peter Lorre is a hoot as Gutman's mischievous elf, Joel Cairo, who tries, without success, to threaten Sam Spade, but only succeeds at getting on Sam's nerves.

The film's high contrast B&W lighting renders an effective noir look and feel, one that would be copied in films for years to come. Acting varies from very good to overly melodramatic. The script is very talky. For the most part, the film is just a series of conversations that take place in interior sets.

Stylistic and cinematically innovative, "The Maltese Falcon" has endured as a film classic. I suspect the main reason for its continued popularity is the continued popularity of Bogart. But I personally prefer the performance of Sydney Greenstreet, the enticing fat man. Yet, together they would reappear in later films, one of which would follow, in 1942, as the classic of all classics.
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Noir at its best
relias30 April 2003
Humphrey Bogart died nearly fifty years ago, but polls still put him at the top of all-time Hollywood stars. What turns a man into a legend? The man himself wasn't much: a slight build, not too tall, no Stallone muscles to swell his suit. What he had in classic films like `The Maltese Falcon' was a voice that cut through a script like a knife. `The Maltese Falcon,' directed by John Huston in 1941, reprised Dashiell Hammett's thriller. (It had been filmed before.) Hammett practically invented the tough guy so deep in cynicism nobody could hope to put anything past him. The novel, thick with plot, wasn't easy for director John Huston to untangle. Few people who cherish this film can summarize its story in a sentence or two. I'll try. San Francisco private eye Sam Spade (Bogart) is pulled into the search for a fabulously valuable statue by a woman who seeks his help. First, his partner is killed, then Spade pushes through her lies to uncover connections to an effete foreigner (Peter Lorre) and a mysterious kingpin (Sydney Greenstreet). The story unfolds like a crumpled paper. But the whodunit becomes less important than how we respond to the strong screen presence of Bogart and his co-stars. That's what makes `The Maltese Falcon' a classic. We see more and appreciate more each time we watch it. The art of Huston and Bogart doesn't come across until a second or third viewing. Huston invented what the French called film noir, in honor of Hollywood films (often `B' movies, cheap to make, second movies in double features) that took no-name stars into city streets to pit tough guys, often with a vulnerable streak, against dangerous dames. Audiences knew that when the tough guy said, `I'm wise to you, babe,' he'd be dead within a reel or two. Bogart was luckier than most noir heroes, but it cost. Struggling to maintain his own independence – against the claims of love or his own penchant towards dishonesty – the Bogart hero can do little better than surrender, with a rueful shrug, to the irony his survival depends on. The climax of `The Maltese Falcon' ranks with the last scene of `Casablanca,' another Bogart vehicle, in showing how the tough guy has to put himself back together after his emotions almost get the better of him. That assertion of strength, bowed but not broken, defines the enduring quality of Bogart on screen. For Huston, telling this story posed a different problem. Telling it straight wasn't possible – too many twists. Huston chose to focus on characters. One way to appreciate Huston's choices is to LISTEN to the movie. Hear the voices. Notice how in long sequences narrating back story, Huston relies on the exotic accents of his characters to keep us interested. Could we endure the scene in which Greenstreet explains the history of the Maltese falcon unless his clipped, somewhat prissy English accent held our attention? Also, we watch Bogart slip into drug-induced sleep while Greenstreet drones on. Has any director thought of a better way to keep us interested during a long narrative interlude? And is there a bit of wit in our watching Bogart nod off during a scene which, if told straight, would make US doze? All of this leads to the ending, minutes of screen time in which more goes on, gesture by gesture, than a million words could summarize. He loves her, maybe, but he won't be a sucker. The cops come in, and the emotional color shifts to gray, the color of film noir heroes like Bogart. Bars on the elevator door as Brigid descends in police custody foreshadow her fate in the last image of Huston's film. But after the film, we're left with Spade, whom we like and loathe, a man whose sense of justice squares, just this once, with our own, maybe. Black and white morality prevails in a black and white movie, but Sam Spade remains gray – and so does our response to this film classic.
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"The Greatest Movie Star of all time" and more
JFHunt28 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Bogart. The coolest guy to ever live?

Have you ever wondered what makes someone possess an essence that's defined as being "cool"? They seem to have that combination between imagery and soul that few people truly have. Is it in the style of clothes you wear or one's knowledge of independence? Is it the way you comb your hair or your unkempt humility for everything out there? It could be in your talk or how you walk, but maybe it's more about what you say and where you're going. In a sense it's an attitude that seeks to define character and break the mold of control. It's the fine line between knowing when to speak up and when saying less means more. So is Bogart the coolest guy to ever live? In a single word, absolutely.

The Maltese Falcon is basically a showcase for Bogart. A role that seems to be made for him, even with two previous attempts at the film. He is and always was born to play Sam Spade. The tough guy private investigator, who always has the right things to say. More likely to fire a witty comeback than a gun. Able to fall in love, even if only for the moment, and then send her to the gallows. All in the name of doing the right thing. It's not an emotional business.

The movie itself wrote the book of the crime and mystery drama story. Probably the best written plot in it's genre. No doubt that Bogart makes the character come alive, with that infectious voice and his uncompromising demeanor. But the movie itself is, to say the least, very good. The ending just does it for me. The last couple of lines are some of the best in film history.

Although it took me a while to finally see this film, I realize that it's one of Bogart's triumphs and has all the main reasons why I love the guy so much. Please, see this film and remember Bogart as he was.

"Heavy. What is it? The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of."
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A great, smart noir whose pace covers the plot holes and is based on some great performances
bob the moo2 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Private detectives Sam Spade and Miles Archer are hired to follow a man called Thursby for a woman. When Archer is murdered and Thursby gunned down, the police and Spade are keen to get answers. When the woman reveals she was lying about her motivations and her identity (she is really Bridget O'Shaughnessy), Sam finds out that she and Thursby were hiding a valuable statute of a falcon. The situation gets more complex when Bridget and Sam come under pressure form other sources that also want the falcon for themselves - namely the pompous Kasper Gutman and the weasely Joel Cairo.

The fact that this film is considered a classic almost makes it difficult to come to this with an objective view, but I did the best I could when I came to see it again for the first time in quite a few years. The film is pretty much a classic that deserves it reputation and stands out as a great bit of hardboiled detective stories from the period. The plot is a little complex at the start as the characters are introduced, but it quickly settles down to be a film with a solid plot that is enjoyable despite the fact that it falls down occasionally. The plot details are too often blurred or just forgotten about - giving the impression of a plot that is more complex than it actually is. However this isn't a problem as the film has enough pace and tough energy to cover these weaknesses and never let you linger for very long on them. The direction from Huston is very good, using almost totally interior shots to increase the tension and the feeling - amazingly this was his first film as director, but you wouldn't know it to watch it. Of course, needless to say, the writing (both source and screenplay) is top notch and is one of the big selling points of the film.

The dialogue is really tough and full of memorable lines, 'When you're slapped you'll take it and like it' probably being the one that everybody remembers. A big reason that the dialogue works as well as it does is down to the fantastic performances from all the cast, although having said that it is dominated by the lead. Bogart summed up his most famous roles for future generations in this one film. He is a complex guy who we're never sure is straight of crooked, he is tough and violent - sleeping with his partner's wife and unafraid of anything. The dialogue fits him like a glove and this is one of my favourite of his performances as it is the one of the ones where he seems to have got everything bang on. Astor is good because, for me, she doesn't fit into the usual role of femme fatale - she is quite needy and demur and that is even more dangerous than the women who are overtly sexual and manipulative, as they were frequently in the later noirs. Lorre is the wonderful, weedy, snivelling character than he does so well and is remembered for. Likewise Greenstreet is a great actor and manages to be overblown without being silly. Cook has a small role but shows his talents in little ways - his reaction when he realises how expendable he is to Gutman is great.

Overall this is a classic film that will please all fans of detective stories and the noir genre. It has a flawed plot but it's dialogue and tough energy cover those up enough to keep things moving all the time. The characters are complex, none more so than Spade himself who is as smart as he is gullible and as cold as he is loving , and they are brought to life by a series of great performances. On top of all this, the film is dominated by a Bogart performance that acts as a perfect example of his most famous work.
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Top notch mystery that kicked off the film noir genre of the 1940s
back2wsoc1 December 2002
"The Maltese Falcon", scripted and directed by Hollywood first-timer John Huston (from Dashiell Hammett's novel), would go on to become an American film classic. Humphrey Bogart chews the scenery in his star-making turn as acid-tongued private eye Sam Spade, whose association with the beautiful and aloof Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), neurotic Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), and morbidly obese Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet, in his Oscar-nominated screen debut) over the recovery of the title object, sets in motion a movie experience that is as much crackling as it is dazzling. While much of the action and dialogue is considerably dated by modern standards, the film's essential power to mystify and entrance remains undiminished despite its age. While this was the third adaptation of Hammett's story (the first was made in 1931 and the second was "Satan Met a Lady" (1936)), this is also the best remembered and most praised, due largely in part to Bogart's seemingly effortless portrayal of the tough but softhearted, world-weary hero. Mary Astor and Lee Patrick were, respectively, the definitive femme fatale and girl Friday, and the villianous roles of Cairo, Gutman and Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) were equally remarkable. What may not be wholly obvious is the fact that these three men have homosexual tendencies (as given in the novel), but just look at what's given: Cairo's delicate speech and manner, Wilmer's questionable quick tempered attitude towards Spade (could this be covering up the fact that he finds Spade attractive?) and Gutman's clutching of Spade's arm when Sam arrives at his hotel room. A polished film noir that gave rise to Bogart's mounting popularity. (Sidenote: The character of Sam Spade was originally offered to George Raft, who turned it down. Raft also turned down "Casablanca" (1942), "High Sierra" (1941) and William Wyler's "Dead End" (1937), all of which went to Bogart and helped to boost his star status. Bogart had Raft to thank for his enduring popularity.) A must-see masterpiece. ****
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"I Won't Play The Sap For You."
bkoganbing20 January 2006
The Maltese Falcon has a totally atypical Hollywood history. After two previous filmings of Dashiell Hammett's novel, the third time a classic film was achieved. Usually the original is best and the remakes are the inferior product.

These characters that John Huston wrote and breathed life into with his direction are so vital and alive even 65 years after the premiere of The Maltese Falcon. You can watch this one fifty times and still be entertained by it.

I'm not sure how the code let this one slip through. Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade is partners with Jerome Cowan in a detective agency Spade and Archer. Client Mary Astor comes into their office requesting help in getting rid of a man who's intruding in on her life. Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer eagerly takes the assignment and gets himself bumped off for his troubles.

Cowan is quite the skirt chaser and he certainly isn't the first or the last man to think with his hormones. That's OK because Bogart's been fooling around with his wife, Gladys George. That gives the police, Barton MacLane and Ward Bond, motive enough to suspect Bogart might have had a hand in Cowan's death.

As fans of The Maltese Falcon are well aware, there's quite a bit more to the story than that. Bogart's investigation leads him to a crew of adventurous crooks, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr. who are in pursuit of a statue of a Falcon that is said to be encrusted in gold and precious jewels.

The Maltese Falcon is a milestone film role for Humphrey Bogart. It is the first time that Bogey was ever first billed in an A picture while he was at Warner Brothers. In fact this is also John Huston's first film as a director. He had previously just been a screenwriter and in fact got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay he wrote here. There are some who will argue that this first film is Huston's best work and I'd be hard up to dispute that.

After a long career on stage The Maltese Falcon was the screen debut of Sydney Greenstreet. Greenstreet may be orally flatulent here, but there's no doubt to the menace he exudes while he's on screen. Greenstreet got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley. Greenstreet created quite a gallery of characters for the next ten years, mostly for Warner Brothers.

A favorite character of mine in The Maltese Falcon has always been Lee Patrick as Effie, the secretary at Spade&Archer. She's loyal, efficient and crushing out on Bogey big time. This and the part of Mrs. Topper in the television series Topper are Lee Patrick's career roles. I never watch The Maltese Falcon without hoping that Bogey will recognize how really "precious" Effie is.

The Maltese Falcon will be entertaining people hundreds of years from now. And please no more remakes of this one.
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One of the Most Entertaining Films of Its Kind
Snow Leopard21 September 2001
With a fine combination of cast, characters, story, and atmosphere, this classic is one of the most entertaining films of its kind, enjoyable even after several viewings. It gets you right into the action and introduces you to a list of interesting personalities, who mesh together nicely and who are also matched well with the cast members. Beyond that, it's also effective as a character study involving greed, trust and distrust, and conflicting ethics.

Sam Spade is an ideal role for Bogart, giving him plenty to work with and some very good dialogue as well. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet are very entertaining, providing suitable foils for Bogart, and they really take the film up a notch. The rest of the cast also works well (worth mentioning is Elisha Cook, Jr., whose character doesn't do a lot, but who provides Bogart with some very amusing moments at his expense). The story is nicely adapted from the novel, and each scene is constructed well, with everything moving along nicely from start to finish.

If you are a fan of either film noir or mysteries, make this a must-see. There are very few films that work as well as "The Maltese Falcon".
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Bogie Tracks The Black Bird!
cariart21 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
'The Maltese Falcon' is the granddaddy of the modern detective movie, as well as the first of the 'film noir' genre, which should impress any film buff looking for an 'essential' film for his collection...But even if you're not, I'd STRONGLY recommend this film, as a terrific mystery with a first-rate cast!

Hollywood legend has it that George Raft had been cast as detective Sam Spade, in this third version of the Dashiell Hammett novel (it had been filmed 10 years earlier, with Ricardo Cortez as Spade, and a few years later, with Bette Davis in the Astor role). Raft refused to work with novice director John Huston, however, and Humphrey Bogart, fresh from his breakthrough success in 'High Sierra', inherited the role...and a legendary team was formed! Huston was a master of sharp, witty dialogue and character, and nobody could play a loner with a code of honor better than Bogart; together, they were unbeatable!

The premise involves a statue of a falcon said to have a fortune in jewels under the lead paint covering it, but this is really a tale of greed, betrayal, and murder. The cast of characters is unforgettable; in addition to Bogart's Spade, there is the beautiful and mysterious Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), slickly effeminate Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), gregarious and self-centered Kasper Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet, in his finest role), and Gutman's young, psychotic hitman (Elisha Cook, Jr.). Even the minor characters are indelibly etched, with great performances by Lee Patrick, Jerome Cowan, Barton Maclaine, and Ward Bond.

We follow Spade, as he journeys deeper and deeper into a web of deception, hunting for the statue and investigating his partner's murder, while becoming romantically involved with O'Shaughnessy. The film never loses momentum, and the climax has the kind of irony that became a John Huston trademark!

'The Maltese Falcon' is a tale that never gets old, and if you have never seen it, check it out! It truly is "the stuff that dreams are made of".
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A classic with good reason
Surecure21 March 2006
While there are films that are considered classic for their technical achievements and classics that resound with audiences for a feel-good emotion, The Maltese Falcon stands in that group that is a classic for every aspect of its creative makeup. With a brilliant script, talented direction and some outstanding performances, The Maltese Falcon stands up today as well as it did upon release.

When Sam Spade -- played brilliantly by Humphrey Bogart -- and his partner Archer are hired to tail a rich eccentric by a woman who claims her sister is being unwittingly kept separated from her by the rich eccentric, it seems like just another case. But when Archer and the eccentric are gunned down and all fingers point to Sam Spade for conflicting yet damning reasons, Spade is thrown into a whirlwind of deceptions that all point in one direction: a Maltese statue of a falcon.

Bogart demonstrates clearly why he is one of the great classic actors of the 20th century, and indeed one of the most natural screen actors ever. His charisma, charm and intense masculine looks give him a presence that simply dominates the screen. With a host of other great talents to fill the screen, there is not a moment of wasted performance. The direction is tight and driving and the pacing never lets up. And the script demonstrates why there are less and less truly great films being released in present day: the writers and directors of the golden age of cinema knew that subtlety works ten times more effectively than the modern in-your-face all-the-time works.

The Maltese Falcon is a timeless work that deserves its place in the list of greatest films ever made.
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The best detective story.
rmax30482319 November 2003
I love this movie. I didn't love it until I'd watched it a couple of times.

And I didn't love it quite so much until I'd read Harvey Greenberg's "Movies on Your Mind."

But I now think that, within the strictures of its budget, it's about as good as it can get. Sam Spade is a marvelous character in this film. He gives practically nothing away, while gathering information from others simply by letting them talk, kind of like a shrink.

And it's hard to believe that they could have found a cast that fit the templates of the novel so perfectly. Sidney Greenstreet IS the "fat man." Peter Lorre IS the queer. My nomination for best scene: When Greenstreet attempts to peel off the black enamel from the captured bird and finds that it's nothing but lead and begins to hack away at it, as if it were alive and he were trying to kill it. Nothing is more amusing than a fat man lipid with rage.

If you see this one, and I hope you do, make note of the phenomenal black and white photography. (I hope you have a good connection.) Watch, for instance, the glissade of the camera when Bogart says, "You have brains. Yes, you do."

In case you're worried about this being too sophisticated for enjoyment by an ordinary audience, I should mention that I showed this (in one connection or another, I forget) to a class of Marines at Camp Lejeune. They enjoyed the hell out of it, especially the scene in which Mary Astor kicks Peter Lorre in the shins.

Don't miss it.
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Entertainment defined
ametaphysicalshark25 October 2007
"The Maltese Falcon" would be nothing without the muscular, cynical, and very entertaining lead performance from Humphrey Bogart. Well, 'nothing' maybe a bit of an overstatement- the film is inventive and interesting otherwise but Bogart's performance makes the film. This film established his career, helping him escape the dozens of cheap crime films he was in prior to this film. It's easy to see why audiences were impressed with his charismatic portrayal of no-nonsense tough guy Sam Spade. I wasn't overly impressed with Mary Astor's performance in the film; she wasn't a compelling love interest and failed to live up to the script's strong characterization. Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, however, completely make up for Astor's performance.

This film was John Huston's debut film, and it doesn't really feel like a debut film. It's quite accomplished, actually. The film is heavily stylized, perhaps more than any other film before it. It is also unflinching in its moral ambiguity (it was named the first film in the 'film-noir' genre by French critic Nino Frank, though I think other films qualify such as Howard Hawks' "Scarface") portraying harsh, cruel, cold individuals. Sam Spade is a realistic character, stylized perhaps, but realistic. He is not the perfect John Wayne all-American hero; he is harsh, cold, and even capable of murder. When his partner is killed Spade does not feel much of anything, reacting indifferently to the death and even kissing his widow during their first meeting after he hears the news. John Huston wanted this film to be more character-based and less plot-based than the two previous adaptations of the novel (which he called 'wretched pictures'). The care taken to provide good characterization in the script is clear to the audience. Indeed, "The Maltese Falcon" has a fairly complicated plot and it's easy to understand how a film can get bogged down in the plot and fail to entertain the audience or even tell a good story. Huston made a wise choice in reducing the plot to the background and focusing on the characters and dialogue.

Huston also pays close attention to visual composition of shots, painstakingly recreating the sleazy underbelly of San Francisco. San Francisco is traditionally used in film as a romantic setting, and it is remarkable how drastically different Huston's portrayal of the city is from the norm and how effective it is. Huston, after writing the very fun and smart script, storyboarded every scene in the film and the attention to detail is clear to those viewing the film. Often such meticulous planning carries over to the screen and interrupts the dramatic flow, but not in this case. The film flows exceptionally well and feels much shorter than its 100 minute running time. The result of all the care that went into the film is, by all accounts, excellent entertainment. It's smart, stylish, generally well-acted, and always captivating. "The Maltese Falcon" is surely one of the most promising debut films in history, promise and potential which Huston most certainly delivered on later in his career.

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Absorbing and worthy suspense film about blackmails , killings , corruption and strong intrigue
ma-cortes14 March 2015
This one of the all-time grand films , a classic Noir Film with gritty interpretation , atmospheric settings and powerhouse filmmaking , at John Huston's first effort directorial . This is a story as explosive as his blazing automatics . Womanizer Sam Sapade is a two-fisted and cynical private detective operating in the big city . When his secretary tells him the new customer (Mary Astor) waiting outside his office is a knockout, he wastes no time before seeing her. It turns out she's a knockout with money. And she wants to spend it on his services as a private detective . This lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of the notorious private detective . She has some story about wanting to protect her sister. Neither he nor his partner, Miles Archer, believes it. But with the money she's paying, who cares? The job proves to be more dangerous than either of them expected. It involves not just the lovely dame with the dangerous lies, but also the sweaty Casper Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet) , the fey Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) , and the thuggish young Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook Jr) . Three crooks, and all of them are looking for the statuette of a black bird they call the Maltese Falcon . Spade is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon . As Sam fights to get hold of a black bird ¨the stuff that dreams are made¨ (a line suggested by Humphrey Bogart was voted as the #14 movie quote by the American Film Institute) .

This first-rate and entertaining picture draws its riveting tale and power from the interaction of finely drawn roles as well as drama , emotion and moody atmosphere . This classic mystery thriller follows Dashiell Hammett's book fairly closely otherwise , he also wrote ¨The thin man¨. Twisted film Noir about murders , troubled relationships , treason , dark secrets , including an unforgettable dialog ; being based on the novel ¨The Maltese Falcon¨¨and screen-written by the same Huston . Frustrated at seeing his script for Juárez (1939) rewritten by Paul Muni, the film's star, John Huston vowed that from then on he would direct his own screenplays and therefore not have to see them get meddled with. He was fortunate in that he had a staunch ally in the form of producer Henry Blanke who was happy to fulfill Huston's wish. Word-for-word and scene-for-scene virtually the same as the original novel. It packs a good realization , an original script , haunting atmosphere , intriguing events ; for that reason madness and murder prevail .The climactic confrontation scene lasts nearly 20 minutes, one-fifth of the entire running time of the film. It involves all five principal characters, and filming required over one full week . Here Bogart is extraordinary and as cool as ever ; he plays as the tough-talking P.I. Although George Raft was originally cast as Sam Spade , he allegedly turned it down because it was "not an important picture," taking advantage of a clause in his contract that said he did not have to work on remakes . For decades this film could not be legally shown on US television stations because of its underlying suggestions of "illicit" sexual activity among the characters (i.e., O'Shaughnessy's promiscuity, indications that Joel Cairo was a homosexual). Much of the movie is filmed over Humphrey Bogart's shoulder so that the audience can be in on his point of view. His scenes with Mary Astor are awesome and at their best compared to those he subsequently shared with Lauren Bacall in ¨Dark passage¨ , ¨Key Largo¨ , ¨The big sleep¨ and ¨To have and to have not¨ . The couple Bogart-Astor throws in enough sparks to ignite several lighters . This was the first pairing of cynical Humphrey Bogart and Femme Fatale Mary Astor . Mary Astor's off-screen notoriety was instrumental in her casting , she had been in several scandals concerning affairs she had been involved in during her marriage. And she was having an affair with John Huston during the making of the film. Magnificent support cast , here was the first pairing of Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, who would go on to make nine more movies together. Exciting as well as complex film , possessing a mysterious and fascinating blend of gripping thriller , serenity , baroque suspense in which especially stands out the portentous performances , evocative cinematography in black and white by Arthur Edeson and magnificent musical score by the classic Adolph Deutsch . And also shown in horrible computer-colored version . The motion picture was masterfully directed by John Huston ; filming was completed in two months at a cost of less than $300,000.

A former version in 1931 by Roy Del Ruth , it was also pretty good starred by Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly , Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade , Dudley Digges as Casper Gutman and Una Merkel as Effie Perine . In fact , Warner Bros. planned to change the name of the film to "The Gent from Frisco" because the novel's title had already been used for this The Maltese Falcon (1931) , the studio eventually agreed to keep the original title at John Huston's insistence.
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The Mystical Narrator
tedg10 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

There are films which shuffle the vocabulary of past films, and then there are the few films which add to that vocabulary. This is one such, and all the more remarkable because it was Huston's first.

His vision was shocking and established a new genre. The conventional filmmaking skills are pretty poor on this. The photography is soso, the editing poor, the women's acting atrocious. But the manipulation of the narrative in this way was new to film.

Until this point in Hollywood product, the camera was the surrogate of the theater audience-goer. You could trust it. The convention was that you (the camera) would know more than the characters you see. And everything would make sense.

Here, some new things are introduced:

-- the world is against the characters; everyone's life is bleak; no happy ending is in sight

Many people think this defines noir. (Later, the photography would be bleak as well.) but there is another innovation here:

-- the world is against you the viewer to the same extent as the characters. You get no special breaks.

This was a big deal. The same year, Orson Welles would break the position of the camera. No longer would it be bound to where a human would be naturally placed. But here, the very soul of the viewer was compromised: you are swept up in the rules of the created world.

That created world itself wasn't so novel to the book writers, but the notion of a mystery gave a special scaffold. The whole game there is to establish a detective in the world. Then there is a game among you, the detective and the author to see who can outguess whom. It was a great invention in narrative.

Here, you still have three players, all trying to trick one another, but the author gets in the first trick -- declaring that you do not have the safety of your seat, your perspective, your own world: you have to live in the created world, the same as Spade.

The Malta business was built into the book to add some notion of the ancient supernatural as an excuse to disrupt the reader. They got it all historically wrong (they meant the Knights Templar, the same folks who hid Indiana Jones' ark), and in any case glossed over that element in the translation from book to film.

I think Huston was smart enough to know what he was doing. I don't think the actors were. Fortunately, Bogart was effectively mean. But for my money Sidney Greenstreet is the genius here. He is the one around whom this noir world is created, so with Huston can be considered the co-inventors of the genre.

As with Huston, this was Greenstreet's first film. Imagine that.
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Detachment as Aura...and the way they talk!
secondtake13 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
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?
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Your Move!!!
dataconflossmoor-115 December 2008
This has got to be one of the greatest movies ever made, why? Everything was about strategy, strategy which ultimately led to successfully walking away with the trophy (in a manner of speaking). Ultimately, everything turned out to be a false alarm, and it's back to the drawing board!! Seems as though this whole fiasco accomplished one thing however, it did serve as a tremendous test for everybody's morals, or, shall I say, the lack of them. You'll have to watch the movie to know what I am talking about!! This website ranks "Maltese Falcon" the 73rd best picture ever made. AFI (American Film Institute) rates "Maltese Falcon" 34th best American movie ever to be produced. Finally, the famous quote from "Maltese Falcon" "This is the stuff that dreams are made out of" is ranked the 14th most famous quote from any film made whatsoever!! What is so remarkable about this film is that it immediately establishes ground rules. These ground rules vicariously and unabashedly obviated all caitiff behavior for everybody involved! For purposes of survival, these wry mannerisms are instantaneously detected, and dealt with accordingly. The art of masquerading pretenses gets metaphorically and emphatically defenestrated with this film. Humphry Bogart (Who was on the head of the list as a desirable selection for numerous detective roles, and hence, Bogart was concurrently chosen with the advent of the "film noir") is absolutely sensational in this movie. His mercurial disposition establishes the premises which harbor his formidable awareness, this becomes his principle component for nourishing his yearning for survival. His chicanery is essential in terms of dealing with his predatory and nefarious adversaries. The disconcerting genre to "Maltese Falcon" cultivates an intrepid set of circumstances which makes the plot to this film plausibly entertaining. Interaction was predicated on going under the guise of a sordid collusion, as well as the clarification of euphemistic phraseology. The writing in the movie "Maltese Falcon" was very unique to the cinema in 1941!! Mary Astor plays the role of the spawn of a plutocratic offspring. Her inherent megalomaniac's nature seemingly accommodates her extra curricular activity of lying, it is just too bad that she is amongst a bevy of professional liars. These professional liars are boxed into a precarious situation whereby they must now tell the truth- This creates a very interesting paradigm!! The visceral affection between Astor and Bogart articulates both characters' struggle with a tenacious and lethal monotony. Sydney Greenstreet is virulently scruple-less beyond belief!! Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook are discarded in one way or the other, and, they become the newly ostracized guinea pigs for purposes of pecuniary expediency. It becomes a proverbial case of who is fit and trim for emerging victorious in an onslaught of sophisticated and conniving emotional game plans!! All film critics rate "Maltese Falcon" to be one of the most fascinating and well produced American films to ever hit the silver screen, I concur!! The plethora of prime quality acting performances in "Maltese Falcon" utterly astounds me!! Hal B Wallis is the executive producer of this movie (He is best known for "Casablanca"). John Huston directs this film, he is nationally renowned for other greats such as "Treasures of Sierra Madre" , "Key Largo", "African Queen" and copious others!! Huston also made an appearance in the all-time movie classic "Chinatown". The aggregate summation of this movie is that it possesses top notch talent from head to toe!! If you have not seen "Maltese Falcon", please make it a point to do so.... I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!!!!! THE FILM "MALTESE FALCON" IS A TOTALLY MARVELOUS MOVIE!! PLEASE SEE THIS FILM!!
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theshining_198011 March 2018
The performance of a lifetime by Humphrey Bogart, the masterclass of acting from one of the greatest German actors of all time, Peter Lorre, yet sprinkled by some magnificent performances from Mary Astor, Lea Patrick, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook Jr. and others, couple that to the twists and turns, the drama and suspense, the movie "The Maltese Falcon" is indeed legendary so much so that it's legacy survives even today, The Maltese Falcon statuette being sold at a whooping $4 million at an auction. The Movie being referred to as one of the Hollywood classics. It takes you on a Roller-coaster ride entertaining you every single minute and by the time you finish watching it, it's already entrenched to the core of your grey matter forever. In short, there are very few movies which stand the test of time. This movie has for several generations. Miss it at your own risk! If ever there was movie to save the day, "This is It"
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"For twenty years, I will wait for you. If they hang you, I will always remember you."
elvircorhodzic4 June 2016
In this case, the term "director's debut of" falling into the water. This beginning of a career for me is incomprehensibly good. I am aware that this is a film adaptation of the novel. However, this directorial beginning is rarely seen.

The story revolves around a private investigator, who gets involved with three greedy, reckless and murderous adventurers who compete with each other to get the famous statue of the falcon encrusted jewels worth millions. The story is formidable circled, accompanied by excellent „detective dialogues" and I have nothing to add. Layered story full of plot provides a true pleasure and unusual experience for film buffs, regardless of taste. The atmosphere is mesmerizing. Light, darkness and shadows cast in this film as much as those of flesh and blood. The term of Maltese Falcon is certainly mystical, but the mysteries of the statue is in relation to other elements of the film fell into the background. Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade) with his left hand epitomized detective of all time. Ambiguous hero who is both honorable and greedy. Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy is femme fatale. Damsel in distress or rather trouble in the girl. I think that Astor is not up to Bogart. Although I'm not sure in my statement given to the scene at the end of the film. Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo just shines. Slimy, polished and professional. He's hard to find fault with. Every phenomenon requires slap in the face, shifty is sleek and evil. Perfect. Sidney Greenstreet as extremely eloquent Kasper Gutman, the nicest character. The villain which is pleasant to look at. The dramatic declines other characters are great too.

Spade is the heart of the story. The central figure around which everything revolves. A lone wolf who knows very well for himself, has his principles, but the game is only his, but others are just assistants, agents and sources. Masterfully complicated by the action in which the dark complications transform into each other. Houston with visible ease skipped by frame to frame, draws our attention to what he wants, no matter where the rich and multifaceted actions, scenario comes to the fore, while like lightning striking quick, witty and memorable dialogues. Elegant film, such as the waltz, and in places like the fast train, leaving more than enough room for nuances, good, evil and funny The camera is a precise and captures exactly what we need to see.

THE MALTESE FALCON is a film about morality, justice, human imperfection, preferences vices from the perspective of the main character who is also a certain version of the anti-hero.
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Finally, finally, finally got a chance to watch this after it being on my watch-list for like forever. It is one of those classic films that most people know of but never get to watch. But yeah, AMC had it on and gave me a chance to watch it. It was okay. Classic noir film. It isn't the best noir I have ever seen but it is okay. The acting is frankly lacking, from pretty much everyone except Humphrey Bogart. So yeah, the film with such an iconic title and etc is a bit disappointing. It may just be a little too dated which shouldn't make much of a difference if the film was a better experience with a cleaner flowing story, better acting, set design and etc, etc. Ultimately the movie is a letdown. 6.5 out of 10.
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The 1931 original is a better movie and got the shaft
proverb1247 October 2009
As "classic" as this '41 version is, Roy Del Ruth's underrated original '31 version beats it out in a number of ways.

Spade's relationship to women is much better defined in the original. Bogart kissing Archer's wife at the start of the '41 version feels like a throwaway. It's easy to forget they even had an affair half way through the movie.

In the original it's a defining moment for Spade - painting him as a true womanizer. The film shows that Archer knows what's going on and isn't happy about it.

Spade's happy/sleazy persona in the original makes much better sense than Bogart's tough, smirky one. While it's lovable, it doesn't service the drama as well.

In the original, when Spade is alone with Ruth Wonderly at his place you wonder who is exploiting who and there's a lion's share of real sexual tension. It feels dirtier and truer despite being shot ten years earlier. It's great to watch.

In Huston's remake, Bogart's too smart to be gotten and there's so little actual attraction it's all cat-and-mouse with no real chance of romance.

When Ruth finally comes over to Bogart's apartment, Houston puts Cairo in the scene before the cops arrive. This kills all the sexual tension, turning it into more increasingly convoluted cat-and-mouse writing rather than something relatable.

There are elements Huston added to the '41 version that further convolute the story. The entire scene in which Bogart messes with the Wilmer character in the hotel while speaking to Joel Cairo about his night at the police station is unnecessary and confusing.

It's a scene that is smartly not in the '31 version.

Lastly, the ending is so much more profound in the original that the '41 version doesn't hold a candle to it. "The stuff that dreams are made of" is a famous Bogart line, but is a sad compensation for the power of the original conclusion in which Ruth actually does fall for Sam, but he realizes it after it's far too late.

The final scene takes place between them when he comes to visit her in prison, after getting a promotion. It's astonishingly heartbreaking and extraordinarily well done.

History be damned.

Incidentally Houston was nominated for a screen writing Oscar for this script. If you look at how much of the structure and screenplay remain the same in his remake, it's an outrageous nomination. The things Houston added actually detract from and confuse the narrative rather than making it better in any way.

See the original!
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Classic film-Noir, mysterious and interesting, but fails to deliver a solid climax.
ks423 May 2004
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.

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Film Noir At Its Best
cinemajesty10 March 2018
Movie Review: "The Maltese Falcon" (1941)

Director John Huston (1906-1987), just 34 years old, adapts the classic "hard-boiled" mystery-novel by author Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) on his own to present a shooting draft to Warner Bros. in the "Golden Hollywood" season of 1940/1941, when over-seas WW2 rages, which gets nevertheless put on the fast-track at Hollywood's major studio with a breakthrough role for leading man Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) as legendary private-eye character Sam Spade, losing his detective partner in the opening sequence before he stands alone in ultra-atmospheric San Francisco office space to unfold a film-noir of excellence in twisted story-telling machinery, not without having high-end entertainment factors along the way due to splendid supporting cast Mary Astor (1906-1987) as the uneasy, demanding feminine, Peter Lorre (1904-1964) as Joel Cairo entering Spade's office in taking-charges moods of pride and show-stealing actor Sydney Greenstreet (1879-1954) to hold-your-breath showdowns in a tiny hotel-room-suit all surrounding the believed to be priceless title-given world-traveling statuette, before Bogart, Greenstreet and Lorre play together again in Michael Curtiz directed "Casablanca" the year after.

"The Maltese Falcon" directed by set-ruling John Huston and shot to striking angles, shades and layers by black-and-white master cinematographer Arthur Edeson (1891-1970); together with the cast they deliver fabulous character signatures, Bogart becoming the star-actor from there on to his death, a plot twisting suspense with slides of easing-cool humor that even the dusty décor can not bring the picture down after 75 years out to be witnessed by any generation because its terrific and furthermore arguably "The Best Film-Noir in Motion Picture History".

© 2018 Cinemajesty Entertainments LLC
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Deserving of its iconic status
MissSimonetta17 May 2017
John Huston's adaptation of The Maltese is one of the earliest and best films noir. It may not have the prominent chiaroscuro or stylistic flourishes of later noir movies, but it is a gripping story told well, almost perfectly cast (I still cannot decide how I feel about Mary Astor's matronly though calculating femme fatale). The camera is almost always set at a subtle low angle, making the scenes take on a menacing feel, as though anything could happen and no one is to be trusted. Bogart is perfect in one of the two roles that made him an enduring Hollywood demigod, the patron saint of cinematic masculine toughness.

Despite the 1940s setting, TMF's themes of greed and human failing remain relevant. Except for the most superficial details, I would say the film has hardly dated at all and remains the definitive cinematic telling of the classic detective novel.
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1640abt19 November 2006
After having heard so much about this movie over the years I was surprised to find it so dull and so poorly executed. Of course there are good things about it: Peter Lorre's performance, aspects of the script, Sidney Greenstreet, and various amusing moments: but overall it's a poor example of the genre. First is the ludicrous plot. I don't expect this kind of movie to be realistic but it should at least be plausible. The movie begins well but as soon as Peter Lorre arrives the plot becomes so preposterous that it's almost impossible to believe anything that's going on. And what is that falcon prop supposed to be? It looks like something found at a fairground. It is supposed to be a work of the Renaissance after all even though disguised. The resolution of the plot is excruciatingly boring. Bogart was never much more than passable and this is not one of his best performances. At times he's called upon to act and fails miserably. The whole love story is so perfunctory that it has no reality whatsoever.
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