The Maltese Falcon
More About The Maltese Falcon
Hard-drinking private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) sleuths the backyard of San Francisco in search of an elusive black bird statuette while evading the setups of three disparate miscreants: the duplicitous Brigid, the perfumed Mr. Cairo, and the scheming Fat Man. John Huston's brilliant directorial debut is aided by first-rate performances, excellent camera work, as well as the director's acute attention to detail while shooting the film. Based on the crime novel by Dashiell Hammett. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet), and Best Screenplay. Previous versions of the story were filmed in 1931 (a.k.a. DANGEROUS FEMALE) and in 1936 (as SATAN MET A LADY, starring Bette Davis), and poorly redone in 1975 (THE BLACK BIRD).
Main Cast & Crew
John Huston - Director
Elisha Cook Jr.
THE MALTESE FALCON was an original selection to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989. Dashiell Hammett's novel was first adapted for the screen in 1931. Known alternately as "The Maltese Falcon" and "Dangerous Female," this version was directed by Roy del Ruth and starred Bebe Daniels, Ricardo Cortez, Dudley Digges, Robert Elliott, Thelma Todd, Una Merkel, and Dwight Frye. In 1936, a second adaptation appeared. The William Dieterle film, "Satan Met a Lady," featured Bette Davis, Warren William, Alison Skipworth, and Arthur Treacher. After years of screenwriting, John Huston made his directorial debut with "Falcon." His father, actor Walter Huston, has a cameo in the film. Sydney Greenstreet made his sound-film debut with "Falcon." He was previously a member of the Lunt-Fontaine theater troupe. Mary Astor and Humphrey Bogart were cited by the National Board of Review for their acting achievement in "The Maltese Falcon." A colorized version of the film is also available.
"...The real spark in this suavest of mysteries is provided by its eccentric collection of villains..." -- 5 out of 5 stars - 03/01/2000 Total Film, p.84
"...Bogart was always in control....The movie is refreshingly cynical..." - 09/03/1998 Los Angeles Times, p.C18
"...Huston's strategy is crafty....It's all style. It isn't violence or chases, but the way the actors look, move, speak and embody their characters..." - 05/13/2001 Chicago Sun-Times, p.5
"...FALCON is the archetypal American detective yarn..." - 12/01/2003 Premiere, p.5
"Boldly manipulative light and shadow, utilizing drastic camera angles, and introducing Bogart's Sam Spade, the first-time director's detective classic defines film noir." -- Grade: A - 10/06/2006 Entertainment Weekly, p.57
4 stars out of 5 -- "[The film] remains enjoyable for its razor-sharp dialogue....A great example of vintage studio alchemy." - 03/01/2007 Uncut, p.121
"There is a spareness of style here that puts many of today's bloated thrillers to shame." - 03/01/2007 Sight and Sound, p.83
5 stars out of 5 -- "This is pure essence of film noir -- essentially starting the genre..." - 03/01/2007 Ultimate DVD, p.97
"Bogie kills as the private investigator Sam Spade, the quintessential taciturn anti-hero." - 04/01/2020 Chicago Sun-Times