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 September 4, 2013
This is a high quality DVD that has a twist, it contains 3 seperate versions of the movie. The best known being Bogarts version, but one of the others come very close. What a cast of characters, even a young Gunsel who went on to play Icepick on Magnum PI as an old man. Greenstreet and the lovely Mary Astor shine. Great movie, great actors. Buy this DVD, you won't be disappointed. I recommend this DVD.
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 February 21, 2002
This was John Huston's first film and some say his best. It features a most interesting cast led by Humphrey Bogart who, one can see, had a great time playing the devil-may-care and cynical private eye, Sam Spade, a creation of mystery novelist Dashiell Hammett, who also created another cinematic favorite, The Thin Man (1934) (and sequels) starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Playing opposite Bogey as the tearful and treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy is Mary Astor, at the time in her mid-thirties and a veteran of many films going back to the silent era. Interestingly enough one of the films was The Runaway Bride (1930). In Hollywood the films never change, they just get make-overs.
Peter Lorre plays the perfumed and villainous Joel Cairo in a style both humorous and sinister. His distinctive high pitched voice has become a staple of cartoon villains. Sidney Greenstreet, the rotund one, who catches up on his reading while they await the delivery of the falcon, plays Kasper Gutman, art connoisseur and sly crook. Elisha Cook Jr., the eternal little man with a gun, whose face seldom changes expression from that of hurtful vengeance, plays Wilmer Cook, Gutman's bodyguard.
What makes this film the favorite of so many is the supremely confident manner in which Sam Spade deals with not only the motley assortment of crooks and con artists, but with the police, tearful women and the district attorney. He's a man's man whose rationality and good old fashioned common sense allow him to spot deception in the twinkling of an eye and give him the power to turn his back on love if there are strings attached. The cosmopolitan air and the sophisticated script allow the players full scope and they are fascinating to watch. Astor's fake tears and feigned innocence cause both Bogey and the audience to grin broadly. And the tête-a-têtes among all the characters, but especially between Greenstreet and Bogart and Lorre and Bogart--the big eyes, the greedy grabbing of guns--are the kind of scenes you can watch again and again with pleasure.
Some see greed as the theme of this film, and indeed John Huston is very good at delineating the psychology of greed--witness also his The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)--but in the existential character of Sam Spade we see an American legend come to life. He is the thinking man of action living life by his wits and an independent code, the kind of man who takes life as it comes but without ever losing his sense of humor, the kind of guy we'd all like to be.
There are a couple of earlier version of this film, The Maltese Falcon (1931) with Bebe Daniels and Ricado Cortez, and one starring Bette Davis and Warren William called Satan Met a Lady (1936), neither of which I've seen, but I understand that the 1931 version is very good. With help from a script by Truman Capote, Huston made a kind of a spoof in Beat the Devil (1954).
Incidentally, in this and in The Big Sleep (1946), Bogart never really plays the gumshoe with the kind of hard-nosed disregard for conventional morality as envisioned in the novels, but is politically-corrected for the mass movie audience. Note here however that the first thing Sam Spade does when he gets the guys unconscious is to go through their wallets.
Bottom line: a classic and a treat. Don't miss it.
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 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 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 July 21, 2001
"The Maltese Falcon" remains one of the great detective films of all time. Humphrey Bogart was never better than as Sam Spade investigating the death of his partner Myles Archer. He soon turns his attention to finding a famous and valuable statue, the Maltese Falcon. A great supporting cast of actors hinders his search. First is "the dame," Mary Astor, who knows how to lie, except to Bogart. Next is "the fat man," capably played by Sidney Greenstreet. Elisha Cook Jr. is "the gunsel" who works for Greenstreet, but who can't match Bogie for toughness and savy. Peter Lorre is the perfumed "weasel" trying to lay claim to the falcon, but who is slapped down by Bogart who tells him that when he is hit he will "take it and like it." Ward Bond shows up as a police officer trying to keep Bogie out of trouble, but he is having a hard time smoothing things over with his lieutenant. This great film is a close adaptation of Dashiel Hammett's classic novel of the same name. Viewers who love the film will enjoy the book just as much and be prompted to get Bogie's other famous detective film, "The Big Sleep." In my opinion Humphrey Bogart is the single greatest American actor and "The Maltese Falcon" showcases his considerable talents.
on February 3, 2002
1941. A good year in cinema history in terms of memorable movies and performances, But when it came to film debuts, this was arguably the best year in movies. The first and probably most well known was Actor/Director Orson Welles (Which, I hope, no explanation is necessary). The other was Director John Huston for "The Maltese Falcon". While not as effecting or groundbreaking as "Citizen Kane", it's still nevertheless a tremendous first effort. A tight, well crafted, gripping mystery, this film is deserving of being considered one of the best movies ever made.
Star Humphrey Bogart also had a very good year in 1941. After a decade of playing parts in gangster films like "The Petrified Forest" and "The Roaring Twenties", Bogart finally hit it big with his performances as ex-convict 'Mad Dog' Earl in "High Sierra" and as Private Detective Samuel Spade in this movie. Bogart is excellent in his role, tough and brutal. He established with this role (And his Philip Marlowe in "The Big Sleep" what the detectives of later film noirs would be like. Considering this one of his trademark performances, it's surprising he didn't get nominated for this or "High Sierra".
In addition to Bogart's superb lead role, he is assisted by a colorful supporting cast. Mary Astor as a client who gets Sam involved with the falcon, Peter Lorre as Cairo, who is looking for the Falcon, Sydney Greenstreet (In his first talkie film) as "Fatman", who is also looking for the Maltese Falcon, and Elisha Cook, Jr. as Wilma, a thug of Fatman's.
As everyone knows who's seen the movie, the film's most famous quote comes at the end
when Spade, carrying the falcon in his hands, calls it "The stuff that dreams are made of". But with all the virtues of this production, could he have been referring to the movie? The debate goes on...
Some other great quotes from the movie:
Sam Spade: We didn't believe your story, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, we believed your 200 dollars.
Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Kasper Gutman: I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another.
Sam Spade: When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it.
Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation...
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?
Joel Cairo: You... you bungled it!
on October 25, 2000
'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 DVD edition, as a terrific film 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 spiderweb 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 DVD edition offers a wealth of 'extras', including a fabulous retrospective of Bogart's years at Warner Brothers, using his 'trailers' as guideposts. Hosted by Robert Osborne, of Turner Classic Movies, this documentary is worth the price of the DVD, by itself!
Treat yourself to a film you'll enjoy again and again! 'The Maltese Falcon' will be a prized film in your collection!