The Maltese Falcon

( 18 )

Overview

After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett's detective classic The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros. finally got it right in 1941-- or, rather, John Huston, a long-established screenwriter making his directorial debut, got it right, simply by adhering as closely as possible to the original. Taking over from a recalcitrant George Raft, Humphrey Bogart achieved true stardom as Sam Spade, a hard-boiled San Francisco private eye who can be as unscrupulous as the next guy but also adheres to his own personal code...
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Overview

After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett's detective classic The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros. finally got it right in 1941-- or, rather, John Huston, a long-established screenwriter making his directorial debut, got it right, simply by adhering as closely as possible to the original. Taking over from a recalcitrant George Raft, Humphrey Bogart achieved true stardom as Sam Spade, a hard-boiled San Francisco private eye who can be as unscrupulous as the next guy but also adheres to his own personal code of honor. Into the offices of the Spade & Archer detective agency sweeps a Miss Wonderly Mary Astor, who offers a large retainer to Sam and his partner Miles Archer Jerome Cowan if they'll protect her from someone named Floyd Thursby. The detectives believe neither Miss Wonderly nor her story, but they believe her money. Since Archer saw her first, he takes the case -- and later that evening he is shot to death, as is the mysterious Thursby. Miss Wonderly's real name turns out to be Brigid O'Shaughnessey, and, as the story continues, Sam is also introduced to the effeminate Joel Cairo Peter Lorre and the fat, erudite Kasper Gutman Sydney Greenstreet, in his film debut. It turns out that Brigid, Cairo and Gutman are all international scoundrels, all involved in the search for a foot-high, jewel-encrusted statuette in the shape of a falcon. Though both Cairo and Gutman offer Spade small fortunes to find the "black bird," they are obviously willing to commit mayhem and murder towards that goal: Gutman, for example, drugs Spade and allows his "gunsel" Wilmer Elisha Cook Jr. to kick and beat the unconscious detective. This classic film noir detective yarn gets better with each viewing, which is more than can be said for the first two Maltese Falcons and the ill-advised 1975 "sequel" The Black Bird.
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Special Features

Disc 1: New transfer of the 1941 film from restored elements; commentary by Humphrey Bogart biographer Eric Lax; Warner Night at the Movies short subjects gallery with a vintage newsreel, the Technicolor musical short The Gay Parisian, the cartoons "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt" and "Meet John Doughboy"; trailers for The Maltese Falcon and Sergeant York.
Discs 2 & 3: The '31 pre-code production of The Maltese Falcon with Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez; the more comedic '36 adaptation of the Dashiell Hammett text, Satan Met a Lady, featuring Bette Davis and Warren William; trailers for the '31and '36 productions; a new documentary entitled The Maltese Falcon - One Magnificent Bird; Robert Osborne hosts Becoming Attractions - The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart; a 1941 studio blooper reel; makeup tests; three audio-only radio adaptations of the text -- two of which feature the original stars, the other starring Edward G. Robinson.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hal Erickson
The first, 1931 film adaptation of Dashiel Hammett's The Maltese Falcon plays at times like the road-company version of the more famous 1941 John Huston-Humphrey Bogart adaptation. Ricardo Cortez stars as a slick, rogueish edition of Sam Spade, using his office as a trysting place for his various amours. Bebe Daniels plays the Brigid O'Shaughnessy character, here rechristened Ruth Wonderly. Ruth hires Spade and his partner Miles Archer (Walter Long) to locate her missing sister. Archer is killed while on duty, confirming Spade's suspicion that Ruth's lost-sister story was a subterfuge. In fact, Ruth is one of several disreputable types in search of a valuable falcon statuette encrusted with jewels. Others mixed up in the quest for the "black bird" are portly Casper Gutman (Dudley Digges), Gutman's neurotic gunsel Wilmer (Dwight Frye, better known as Renfield from Dracula) and effeminate Joel Cairo (Otto Matiesen). It is giving nothing away at this stage of the game to note that, after all the various intrigues concerning the falcon have come and gone, Spade turns Ruth over to the cops as the murderer of Archer. As would be the case with the 1941 version, the 1931 Maltese Falcon does not use Hammett's original ending, in which Spade callously resumes his affair with Archer's widow (Thelma Todd). Instead, we are offered a jailhouse coda, where a suddenly compassionate Spade asks the matron to treat the incarcerated Ruth gently during her 20-year stay. When Maltese Falcon was due for a reissue in 1936, it was denied a Production Code approval on the basis of one single line: Archer's widow, spotting Ruth Wonderly in Spade's bedroom, exclaims "Who's that dame in my kimono?" In between the 1931 and 1941 versions of Maltese Falcon, there would be a heavily disguised reworking of the Hammett novel, Satan Met a Lady (1936), starring Warren William and Bette Davis. To avoid confusion with the 1941 remake, the 1931 Maltese Falcon has been retitled Dangerous Female for television.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
While John Huston's screen adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon is widely regarded as a screen classic, it wasn't the first time Hammett's novel had been brought to the screen. The comedy drama Satan Met a Lady offers a decidedly different spin on the same story, as detective Ted Shayne (Warren William) is hired by a woman named Valerie Purvis (Bette Davis) to find a woman named Mme. Barrabas (Alison Skipworth). Valerie, however, won't tell Ted what she wants from her, and as he tries to track down Barrabas, Barrabas' people come to him in search of Valerie. When Ted and Barrabas finally meet, she claims Valerie has a valuable piece of her property — a jewel-encrusted ram's horn — and she'll gladly pay Ted to return it to her. Certain Valerie hasn't been on the level with him, Ted asks his partner to trail her, but when Valerie discovers she's being watched, she kills the second detective. Unaware that she's killed Ted's partner, Valerie asks that Ted pick up a package for her from a ship arriving from Asia the next day, which Ted realizes is the precious horn that has caused all the trouble. Satan Met a Lady was actually the second feature film based on The Maltese Falcon; the first, also called The Maltese Falcon, was released in 1931.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Adapting Dashiell Hammett's novel -- and staying as close to the original story as the Production Code allowed -- first-time director John Huston turned The Maltese Falcon into a movie often considered the first film noir. In his star-making performance as Sam Spade, Humphrey Bogart embodied the coolly ruthless private eye who recognizes the dark side of humanity, in all its greedy perversity, and who feels its temptations, especially when they are embodied by a woman. While Huston's mostly straightforward visual approach renders The Maltese Falcon an instance of early noir more in its hardboiled attitude than in the chiaroscuro style common to other films noirs, the collection of venal characters, colorfully played by Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr.; Mary Astor's femme fatale; and Bogart's morally relativistic Spade pointed the way to the mid-1940s flowering of noir in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), Otto Preminger's Laura (1944), and Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep (1946). A critical as well as popular success, The Maltese Falcon was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, establishing Huston as a formidable dual talent and Bogart as the archetypal detective antihero.

Adapting Dashiell Hammett's novel -- and staying as close to the original story as the Production Code allowed -- first-time director John Huston turned The Maltese Falcon into a movie often considered the first film noir. In his star-making performance as Sam Spade, Humphrey Bogart embodied the coolly ruthless private eye who recognizes the dark side of humanity, in all its greedy perversity, and who feels its temptations, especially when they are embodied by a woman. While Huston's mostly straightforward visual approach renders The Maltese Falcon an instance of early noir more in its hardboiled attitude than in the chiaroscuro style common to other films noirs, the collection of venal characters, colorfully played by Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr.; Mary Astor's femme fatale; and Bogart's morally relativistic Spade pointed the way to the mid-1940s flowering of noir in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), Otto Preminger's Laura (1944), and Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep (1946). A critical as well as popular success, The Maltese Falcon was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, establishing Huston as a formidable dual talent and Bogart as the archetypal detective antihero.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/3/2006
  • UPC: 012569676015
  • Original Release: 1941
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Presentation: 3-Disc Special Edition / Full Frame
  • Time: 2:58:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 30,756

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Humphrey Bogart Samuel Spade
Mary Astor Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Peter Lorre Joel Cairo
Sydney Greenstreet Kasper Gutman the Fat Man
Ward Bond Detective Tom Polhaus
Barton MacLane Detective Lt. Dundy
Gladys George Iva Archer
Lee Patrick Effie Perine
Jerome Cowan Miles Archer
Murray Alper Frank Richman
James Burke Luke
Elisha Cook Jr. Wilmer Cook
Charles Drake Reporter
Creighton Hale Stenographer
John Hamilton Attorney Bryan
Robert E. Homans Policeman
William Hopper Reporter
Walter Huston Capt. Jacobi, the Ship's Officer
Hank Mann Reporter
Jack Mower Announcer
Emory Parnell Ship's Mate
Technical Credits
John Huston Director, Screenwriter
Robert M. Haas Art Director
Arthur Edeson Cinematographer
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Perc Westmore Makeup
Hal B. Wallis Production Designer
Adolph Deutsch Score Composer
Dashiell Hammett Source Author
Henry Blanke Associate Producer
Tom Richards Editor
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Oliver S. Garretson Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Maltese Falcon, Disc One
1. Credits and Foreword [1:21]
2. Sweet New Client [4:41]
3. Killed in Action [4:02]
4. Where Spade Stands [3:12]
5. Grieving Widow [3:41]
6. Dangerous Lady? [5:34]
7. Joel Cairo [6:13]
8. Losing a Shadow [1:21]
9. A Little Trust [3:32]
10. To Take It And Like It [3:05]
11. Strong-Arm of the Law [4:38]
12. Lies About the Bird [2:47]
13. Evicting a Cheap Gunman [3:06]
14. Stashing Brigid [3:32]
15. Plain Speaking [5:40]
16. Falcon Lore [7:25]
17. Off the Boat [2:40]
18. Dead Man's Delivery [5:18]
19. We're All Here [1:45]
20. Fall-Guy Candidates [5:04]
21. The Details [3:56]
22. A Joke and Advice [3:24]
23. The Maltese Falcon [3:30]
24. Gutman's Adieu [1:57]
25. Taking the Fall [4:28]
26. Bad Vs. Good Business [2:13]
27. The Stuff That Dreams Are... [1:22]
28. Cast List [:43]
Disc #2 -- Maltese Falcon, Disc Two
1. Credits [:38]
2. Sam Spade, Ladies Man [4:01]
3. Partners on Her Case [3:56]
4. Dead of the Night [2:12]
5. Everydody's Foot Slips [2:57]
6. Shady Lady in Need [5:37]
7. Doc Caire [4:58]
8. Unexpected Visitors [5:44]
9. Apartment Search [3:27]
10. Trouble With His Women [2:19]
11. Gutman's Proposal [6:20]
12. Treacherous Toast [3:59]
13. Seaman's Suitcase [3:11]
14. 24-Hour Deadline [3:06]
15. Fall Guy Required [4:18]
16. The Choice; Wilmer [6:49]
17. Lump of Lead [3:46]
18. Gutman's Regrets [2:06]
19. Hope They Don't Hang You [3:25]
20. Beauty Found Guilty [2:08]
21. Be Nice to Her [3:19]
1. Credits [:52]
2. Partners Again [5:27]
3. Just Like Old Times [2:31]
4. Valerie Purvis' Case [3:46]
5. Graveyard Deaths [4:03]
6. Detectives Like Her [5:00]
7. Revamping the Vamp [2:57]
8. Making Shayne's a Shambles [3:05]
9. Legendary Horn [5:54]
10. The Drop on Shayne [4:19]
11. Meaning Something Really [5:44]
12. Madame Barabbas [4:25]
13. Money Talks [2:47]
14. Constant Protection [3:52]
15. City Fathers [2:35]
16. Waterfront Targets [3:36]
17. Multiple Crosses [3:10]
18. Horn of No Plenty [3:19]
19. Ame's Killer [4:22]
20. The One Woman [2:20]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Maltese Falcon, Disc One
   Warner Night at the Movies
      Play All
      Sergeant York Theatrical Trailer
      Newsreel
      The Gay Parisian
      Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt
      Meet John Doughboy
      The Maltese Falcon
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Commentary by Eric Lax
      Warner Night at the Movies
         Play All
         Sergeant York Theatrical Trailer
         Newsreel
         The Gay Parisian
         Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt
         Meet John Doughboy
         The Maltese Falcon
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Language: English
      Subtitle: English
      Subtitle: Français
      Subtitle: Español
      Subtitle: Off
Disc #2 -- Maltese Falcon, Disc Two
   The Maltese Falcon
      Play Movie
      Scene Selections
      Languages
         Spoken Language: English
         Subtitle: English
         Subtitle: Français
         Subtitle: Español
         Subtitle: Off
   Satan Met a Lady
      Play Movie
      Scene Selections
      Theatrical Trailer
      Languages
         Spoken Language: English
         Subtitle: English
         Subtitle: Français
         Subtitle: Español
         Subtitle: Off
Disc #3 -- Maltese Falcon: Bonus Features Disc Three
   The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird
   Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart
   Breakdown of 1941
   Makeup Tests
   Audio Vault
      2/8/1946 Lux Radio Broadcast
      9/20/1943 Screen Guild Theater Broadcast
      7/3/1946 Academy Award Theater Broadcast
      Web Info
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    An old classic worth watching

    An old classic, but slight flaw in story line, but most people probably will not notice it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Theis is a masterpiece mystery.

    This is a movie masterpiece of all time. I enjoy watching this movie time after time. I have the three disk set and two more movie versions, the 1931 verision and Satan Met A Lady. This is a must have movie.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Maltese Falcon

    I saw this movie when a very young boy when it was first released. I can remember going home that day and telling my father all about this movie. Well each time I see this movie, I never get tired of watching it. As you can see this was a very low budget film with almost all of the scenes taking place in an office or a room.

    I have seen this movie several times on TCM. The last time I watched it was a week ago on April 18, 2009. It was just as thrilling to see it then as it was when I first saw it in 1942.

    A film such as this would make a fine addtion to anyone's collection. All of the actors leave the audience with a memory of fine performances without flubbing their lines. This cast is full of professionals. What really makes this film outstanding is there is no profanity in any of the dialog nor any sex scenes to disgust the viewer.

    VEETZ...

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thriller

    Sam Spade is given a case to solve for a woman named o'shaunesy.
    He is told to tail a man by the name Thursby His partner Archer gets killed in the process and later the same night Thursby is killed on Bush street.
    Sam Spade is pinned for the killings and love association with Archer's wife,Ida. But Sam Spade will get to the end of all this madness ending up with the woman he falls in love with killed Archer and well, the rest is history........

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted April 26, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews