on June 29, 2004
Director: John Huston
Format: Black & White
Studio: Warner Studios
Video Release Date: February 1, 2000
Humphrey Bogart ... Private Detective Sam Spade
Mary Astor ... Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Gladys George ... Iva Archer
Peter Lorre ... Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane ... Det. Lt. Dundy
Lee Patrick ... Effie Perine
Sydney Greenstreet ... Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond ... Det. Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan ... Miles Archer
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Wilmer Cook
James Burke ... Luke
Murray Alper ... Frank Richman
John Hamilton ... Bryan
Charles Drake ... Reporter
Chester Gan ... Bit part
Creighton Hale ... Stenographer
Robert Homans ... Policeman
William Hopper ... Reporter
Walter Huston ... Capt. Jacobi
Hank Mann ... Reporter
Jack Mower ... Announcer
Emory Parnell ... Ship's mate
This is a cult classic Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) film. The cast included all-time greats Peter Lorre, Sidney Greestreet, Walter Huston, Ward Bond, and other veterans like Mary Astor and Jerome Cowan.
John Huston directed, and kept the tension high throughout.
This is a story about a statue of a falcon that the Knights Templar had made as a gift for the King of Spain in gratitude. It was lost in transit to the king. Crusted with jewels of immense value, but covered with black lacquer to disguise its worth, it was lost for centuries. This story is about the struggle between factions of villains to get the bird.
If you have never see Bogart in this movie, you have missed one which is partly responsible for his fame.
Joseph (Joe) Pierre
on May 24, 2004
In order to follow merely the plot of this story the first time round you need a brain that goes clickety-click fast enough to match Bogart's machine-gun-like delivery. I can't believe anyone ever talked as fast as he did on film. Partly because the plot is so intricate, it gets better each time you see it: everything eventually falls into place with perfect logic. But there's very much more to it. There's a terrific undertow of all kinds of deeper meanings below the surface: the campy amorality of the misfit crooks with their greed and false values, pursuing nothing. The ferocious bitterness in Bogart's staccato angel, precious, darling, sweetheart. It's as if he hated the whole female race. There's no love here, just off-screen pairing. It's pointless to complain that Mary Astor is melodramatic. That's the whole point of her character: she doesn't lie in order to gain some advantage, it's her feminine nature to put on an act, deceive and mislead. Her opposite is the role of the staunch and loyal secretary: "You're a good man, sister!" In fact the whole movie is suffused with gender-bending confusion. The cops are a couple of boyfriends. The womanising jerk, Archer, is Bogart's partner. Add to this the fantastic character-acting of, especially, Sydney Greenstreet. An amazing screen presence, he really was. This is a film which matures the more you see it, and it is definitely for the mature. I didn't think much of it, the first time I saw it.
on April 25, 2004
The film is very clever and kind of twists you up a bit at the end. You have to pay attention to really capture the essence. Some greedy lowlifes want to get the Maltese falcon which apparently was part of the treasure given to the Knights Templar from the kingdom of Spain. Does anybody remember the Knights from the Da Vinci Code. Anyways, detective Sam Spade gets involved. His partner gets killed early on in the story and he hooks up where his partner left off. The cops think he killed his partner and most everybody sees him as a good for nothing. He plays it like that, trying to play his hand to the highest bidder, acting as if he wants the money, that thats all he is concerned with. The lowlifes project that on to him, because thats what they see in themselves. The cops don't trust him. He seems to be a one man show but is it for the money or for the need to see justice proclaimed. Bogart does a real good job in his character and the film noir is never better! The dialog is snappy and intelligent. I'm glad I am watching these movies. I thought the classics would be sort of silly, and old fashioned but this film shows real clarity.
on April 11, 2004
Brigid O'Shaughnessy hires Sam Spade and his partner, Miles Archer, to bring back her sister who's been living with a "dangerous" man. Miles sets off to tail the man, but winds up murdered. Trying to discover who killed his partner before the police can lay blame on him, Spade gets more involved with Brigid's search for a missing statue, the Maltese Falcon. She must find it before the nervous Joel Cairo or the mysterious Kaspar Gutman can get their hands on it.
Director John Huston, who also wrote the screenplay based on Dashiell Hammett's novel, a crafted one of the finest examples of film noir to hit the screen. Humphrey Bogart's star-making turn as Detective Sam Spade is full of sharp-tongued intelligence as he plays each of the characters against themselves to get to the truth. Peter Lorre is devious as the nervous Joel Cairo, determined to locate the Maltese Falcon for his employer, Kaspar Gutman, played with finesse by Sydney Greenstreet. Mary Astor does a fine job as Brigid, but to me, she comes across as a bit too melodramatic. I found it hard to take her seriously in the role of a woman out to use whatever it takes to get the statue. The script is fast paced with excellent dialogue, especially the scenes between Spade and Gutman.
The DVD transfer has some satisfactory extras, such as movie trailers and a history of the film. I'm a bit surprised at the picture quality. Many grainy spots, noise lines, and other imperfections. I hope they release a restored version of this in the near future.
"The Maltese Falcon" is a marvelous film and is a must for any cinephile.
on February 29, 2004
The Maltese Falcon (black and while; running time 101 minutes; not rated) stars Academy Award winner actor, Humphrey Bogart, along with Mary Astor, Jerome Cowan, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. The Maltese Falcon was expertly directed by John Huston in 1941 for Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc. In this film, suspense, murder and mystery surround the search for the Maltese falcon.
When a beautiful woman, Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), enters the private investigation offices of Archer and Spade and asks for help, little do Samuel Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) know the effect she will have on their lives. Miles is murdered while working for Ms. O'Shaughnessy and Sam Spade must now find who killed his partner. While strongly attracted to the beautiful Ms. O'Shaughnessey, he soon realizes that she has difficulty with the truth. As events unfold, and more are murdered, Sam Spade discovers that everything revolves around the search for a rare and valuable statute of a falcon, the Maltese falcon. Not only is this what is behind the beautiful Brigid O'Shaughnessy's plea for help, but he also finds that Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and Kasper Gutman, "the Fat Man" (Sydney Greenstreet), will do anything to put their hands on the "mislaid ornament". Through a twist of fate, Sam ends up in possession of the Maltese Falcon and then uses the statute to pull together all the people and all the information he needs to reveal the murderers. However, is this the real Maltese falcon, or does it remain "the mislaid ornament"?
This film is rated five stars (*****). The suspense, twists and turns, will keep you on the edge of your seat; and the direction by John Ford and the performance by Humphrey Bogart are timeless and classic.
on May 21, 2003
This is a fine noir treatment of the Dashiell Hammett hard-boiled novel, and Humphrey Bogart is great as the cynical, highly controlled, and yet passionate Sam Spade. The Warner's supporting cast is familiar to any Bogart fan: Sidney Greenstreet as "the Fatman", Elisha Cook Jr. as the wannabe tough-guy thug, and Peter Lorre as the sleazy but dangerous criminal entrepreneur who would betray his mother for the golden bird. Mary Astor has a tough role to play in this film: vulnerable yet ruthless, scheming, and yet with a smoldering passion that ignites Bogart's own desire. She pulls it off, although Sam Spade was clearly thinking with the more private part of his anatomy when he fell for her. Watching the film, you can just see she's trouble, but Spade wouldn't be the first guy to let his drum major do his thinking for him. Yet he never loses his cool. And in the end, the seductive femme fatale gets what's coming to her. As for the bird, well the gleam of desire in the eyes of everyone in the film when they finally get it in their hands shows what it means . . . as Bogie said, "It's the stuff that dreams are made of." Great dialogue, great cast, great film.
on March 10, 2003
Yes Virginia, this is the best detective movie of all time. In fact, this is the one that set the gold standard for all detective films. The one that everybody imitates, the one that everybody quotes, the one that made the career of Humphrey Bogart. Its fascinating murder plot is engaging, and the performances by Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet are unforgettable. John Huston’s great direction should also be noted.
This DVD is the sharpest, clearest version I’ve yet seen of “The Maltese Falcon,” and it is quite probably the sharpest and clearest version I ever will see. While there are still plenty of scratches, the image is a wonder to behold.
My only quibble is the comparative lack of extras. While there is a unique “The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart” documentary, “A History of Mystery” Essay, and the amusing “Maltese Falcon” theatrical trailer, a legitimate documentary or a film historian’s commentary would have been appreciated.
on December 10, 2002
Seldom has any novel been so successfully interpreted on screen: in approaching Dashiell Hammett's seminal private-eye novel, director John Huston not only stayed meticulously true to the plot, he also lifted great chunks on the novel's dialogue directly into the script--and then styled the pace, cinematography, and performances to reflect Hammett's stripped-for-action tone. And the result, to borrow a phrase from the film, is "the stuff that dreams are made of." THE MALTESE FALCON is a iconographic landmark in twentieth century cinema.
The story is well known. Private eyes Sam Spade and Miles Archer are employed by an attractive but decidedly questionable Brigid O'Shaughnessy to track down a man named Thursby--but within hours of taking the case both Miles Archer and Thursby are shot dead, and Spade finds himself embroiled in a search for a legendary lost treasure: the figure of a falcon, encrusted with jewels.
The cast is remarkable. Humphrey Bogart made a name for himself first on the stage and then in films with a series of memorable gangster roles, and was fresh from his great success in HIGH SIERRA; Sam Spade, which offered a new twist on his already established persona, was an inspired bit of casting. Mary Astor had been a great star in silent film, but the late twenties and early thirties found her dogged by scandal; perhaps deliberately playing on those memories, she brought a remarkable mixture of toughness, tarnish, and absolute believability to the role of the very, very dangerous Brigid. And the chemistry between Bogart and Astor is a remarkable thing, a simmering sexuality that more glossy casting could have never achieved.
The supporting cast is equally fine. Although a great star in Europe and the star of a number of 1930s films, Peter Lorre was still something of an unknown quanity in American film; Sidney Greenstreet was a minor stage actor with no screen experience; Elisha Cook was a well-liked but neglected character actor. But THE MALTESE FALCON would fix all three firmly in the public mind, and to some extent all three would continue to play variations of their FALCON roles for the rest of their lives.
FALCON is particularly noted as one of several films that craftily circumvented the notorious "Production Code" by effectively implying but never directly stating the various sexual relations between the characters. Spade has clearly had an affair with Archer's wife, Iva; Archer is clearly a man on the sexual make, and leaps at the chance to tail Brigid. Lorre's lines effectively expose Brigid as man-hungry, and the script and situations do everything but flatly state that Lorre's character is homosexual. Perhaps most startling is the implied sexual relationship between Sidney Greenstreet and the hoodlum Elisha Cook, and the concluding implication that Lorre may well replace Cook in Greenstreet's affections. Just as the plotlines swirl and twist, so do the layers of innuendo and the tangles of sexual uncertainty--all of it adding to the film's feel of uneasy decadence and grittiness.
The DVD bonuses are enjoyable but slight--two film trailers and a documentary that uses trailers to show how Warner Bros. marketed Bogart during the 1930s and 1940s. But even if it came without any bonuses the DVD would still be greatly welcomed: although it has not been restored in a computer-corrected sense, this is the finest print I have ever seen of the film, far superior to anything available on VHS. A great film, a true essential, and strongly, strongly recommended.
on October 25, 2002
"The Maltese Falcon" is such a famous movie, and so often parodied, that it can be difficult to separate your mind from it's history and just enjoy it. If you can do that, you are in for a treat.
This if Film Noir at it's finest. All the dames are dangerously beautiful, and all the detectives are hard-boiled. Never, ever trust the Fat Man or anyone named Joel Cairo. Tense, moody and harsh are all adjectives that describe this film. The dialog is as sharp and as clever as Jane Austin. "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter." The ending scene is one of cinema's greatest. You just can't go wrong with a true classic of this caliber.
The DVD is great. The black and white is crisp and clear, and completely essential to the mood of the flick. Why anyone ever colorized the Maltese Falcon is beyond me, but here it is completely restored. The extra feature, "Becoming Attractions," is very interesting. It examines the Hollywood selling of Humphrey Bogart from background "heavy" to leading man.
on September 13, 2002
THE MALTESE FALCON is my favorite detective movie of all time. It is considered a classic today because so many different facets of the film's making seem to have come together magically in this one production.
John Huston was a screenwriter who wanted to remake the old MALTESE FALCON as his first film as a director. He not only did a superb job in his directing debut but also acted as screenwriter.
The selection of Sydney Greenstreet to fill the role of Kaspar Gutman at age 61 after specializing in playing butlers on Broadway was another fortunate choice. Greenstreet had no previous Hollywood experience.
The most important decision of all was probably to cast Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade after George Raft had turned down the offer. It helped that the film had an all-star array of actors to complement Bogart. It would be difficult to find more suitable picks than Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, Ward Bond and Elisha Cook, Jr. Even a mere cameo appearance by Walter Huston resulted in an unforgettable scene. The director's father portrayed the dying Captain Jacobi of the La Paloma delivering the Falcon to Spade's office.
THE MALTESE FALCON is certainly not a love story in the style of CASABLANCA. The Bogart characters in both films, however, strike me as being quite similar. I see them both as ordinary men who rise to heroic heights by sticking to a few basic rules of decency - in spite of their many human failings.
I highly recommend THE MALTESE FALCON and am sure that I will no doubt see it again - and again.