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The Movie Critique
The Maltese Falcon

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The Maltese Falcon

jyoung-11


Date: 25 October 2001
Summary: Humphrey Bogart and John Huston

It wasn't until John Huston came along to lift Bogart's career that Bogart could be defined as a leading actor rather than a supporting actor or antagonist. 'The Maltese Falcon' defines Bogart as the protagonist, and all of his subsequent films would echo that trend.



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UNISOM


Date: 24 October 2001
Summary: the classic talk tough real fast film.

THE MALTESE FALCON is a classic tale of a gumshoe caught between several greedy factions wanting a valuable statue of a bird. The classic film, is mostly all dialogue and bogart dealing out mile a minute insults and threats to "would be assailants". The film was released in 1941, on the eve of the US entry into WW2. After this the next few Bogart films were war or espionage themed, yet he excelled at playing a smooth talking, tough as nails gangster or PI. When people think of JOHN WAYNE they think of westerns, war pictures or MC Q. When people think of BOGART they think of film noir gangster and PI films and films like CASABLANCA. Bogart was the poster boy for 1940's coolness in a suit and strutting on film into a crowded bar like he had a chip on his shoulder and he could kick the whole worlds ass. This is a fine film and well written. Enjoy.



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John G. Olson (johngolson@elkriver.k12.mn.us)
Elk River, Minnesota

Date: 5 October 2001
Summary: Just Another Fan

I wish film were so pure these days. This is a simple (on the surface) murder case which when looked at, has multiple layers of deceit and deception. The "bird" itself carries a curse, but there is the bird--is there really a bird? Those who hunt for it form a tenuous bond, devoting their very existences to the search. Bogart stumbles into the case, the lonely, baggage carrying private eye--intrepid to the bitter end. A man not to be bought. Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, multidimensional bad guys--Mary Astor--cool--confident--certain her charms will out. Everyone knows what happens. Comic relief comes in the form of Elisha Cook, the gunsel, overconfident and violent, and in way over his head. This is no longer a movie to me. It's a series of memorable lines, facial expressions and reactions, tension, and tears. Is Sam Spade the friend of the police or an adversary? Do they resent his skills or just him. Does he have a shady past? Miles, his partner, is a fool to Spade, but he is his partner and that is enough. He must play this straight so he can sleep at night.

The whole thing is pure atmosphere. Shades of gray. The film noir. Quick feints and moves of a fighter. This is one of those pieces of film heritage which will never grow old.



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Snow Leopard
Hilliard, Ohio

Date: 21 September 2001
Summary: One of the Most Entertaining Films of Its Kind

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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latsblaster
rebro, Sweden

Date: 31 August 2001
Summary: Humphrey Bogart is Sam Spade!

It would be interesting to see the first version of this movie from 1931. But in the same time, this movie is based on a novel. So does it matter?

I have never seen many Film-Noir movies, not because they are bad, just because you can't find to many of them nowadays. This is perhaps suppose to be the best, or one of the best. I can say that this movie was for me more impressive than "Touch of Evil", not because I didn't like that movie, just because this one is much older but in the same time very good. I guess this is one of those movies you always can enjoy and discover references to younger movies.

My expectations were huge. The result was good, witch was nice. I don't like the acting, the music or any of that stuff, it is more the mood and plot that catches me. Sam Spade is the GUY! Bogart has never been better since this movie, and I think this is the big reason that he became a star. A true must see - a bit better than Casablanca according to me.

Rating: 9 of 10.



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Rob Deschenes (kalibur@softhome.net)
Toronto, Ont. Canada

Date: 12 August 2001
Summary: Fast action . . . with words.

Not too many movies have the class and intelligence like THE MALTESE FALCON. Like a stage play, the characters are: witty, crafty, highly smart, and can speak and respond with the greatest of ease. THE MALTESE FALCON succeeds and suffers from this effect since slower people will have a very hard time registering what the characters are saying. THE MALTESE FALCON demands very little minus this fact and the superb acting make this a movie film buff's choice.

It's San Francisco. A woman from New York walks into the office of Spade and Archer, two private detectives requesting they find her sister who is being held by a sinister man. Archer investigates and gets killed. Spade picks up and does some investigating of his own that leads him into a chase for the titled statuette.

Yet another tale of greed, THE MALTESE FALCON has its own style of story telling. Much of the movie revolves around Spade's brilliance and intelligence by maneuvering around the police, Archer's widow and his own feelings to solve the mysteries and discover the whole story. This type of acting is a rare gem itself and is all done in only 101 minutes! Try recreating this movie today at such a time!



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Ian Rigby (feelthetempest@hotmail.com)
Lancashire, England

Date: 4 August 2001
Summary: When a mans partner is killed, he's supposed to do something

That one line, for me sums up the incredible character of Sam Spade. 'The Maltese Falcon is, without a doubt, one of the very finest films that has been made. Humphrey Bogart's portrayal of the moody, intelligent Sam Spade is enough to keep all members of the audience hooked on this classic Film Noir. However, Humphrey doesn't take over the film, which gives every other member of the cast a chance to shine as well, giving the film the perfect mix of a wonderful plot and acting ability.

This type of film is one that i love to see. A film were if you do not pay attention to the plot, you can loose it after 10 minutes. It also has a distinct elegance, class and style, that you can not help but notice. The use of 'High' and 'Low' key lighting to convey emotions to the audience, classic lines such as: When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it. All these devices culminate in a film that is unmatched by today's standards. Watch it, and I'm sure you'll agree.



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Movie_Man 500
LaLaLand

Date: 20 July 2001
Summary: It's the stuff dreams are made of, sweetheart

Aye, Miss Bridget O'Shaunessey is playing a wicked game but Sam Spade won't be fooled and that's all I'm gonna say. Huston's dynamic film noir is ultimate Hollywood tough guy/ femme fatale pairing. And well, how can you beat the fat man and Peter Lorre's big eyes, and the title sought after item with its elusive appeal and dangerous attraction and it's still not found after all is said and done.

but listen sweetheart, the bullets, the bad guys, the good guys... ah, who am i kidding? there are no real good guys in this cynical master work. Just sit back and enjoy: black and white cinematography, rollicking supporting characters and Bogie's all time biggest hard lucked misanthrope. great slaps. better punches and a few gunshots at that...



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Guy Shurmer (guy-72)
Cornwall, UK

Date: 7 July 2001
Summary: Great film, but not the definitive Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon was John Huston's first chance at directing. He was 40 years old and he probably knew that if he failed he might never get another chance. And if that had happened, the Maltese Falcon would probably have been cut down and issued as a B film.

Everything was against Huston. He had been lumbered with an aging second-rank actor, Bogart; a fading actress Mary Astor who was quite unsuitable to play a vamp; a beginner Sydney Greenstreet; and Peter Lorre who was type-cast as the same psychotic type he had always played since he starred in Fritz Lang's 'M' in the 1920s. The studio wasn't going to waste money on a new script, and had simply dusted-off the one that had been used in the 1931 Maltese Falcon. And in 1941 the plot would have seemed ridiculously old-fashioned, with it's fanciful history of the Black Bird, and talk of Constantinople, Hong Kong, the 'Russian', etc.

What is miraculous is that Huston pulled it off so beautifully and created a film perfectly in tune with the mood of the times. It's not Film Noir as is so often claimed. There isn't the disturbing psychological tension that you get in real Film Noir from 1944 on. Neither is it the sleazy world of Dashiell Hammett - where's the sex element?

Huston recasts the story in the early 1940s mould where the hard-boiled hero was king. Huston adds little touches to build up Bogart's tough-guy persona. Bogart takes guns away from the gunsel (which is quite unnecessary to the plot), and Huston also adds a typical hard-boiled scene in a hotel lobby.

Nor can Bogart be allowed to appear as sleazy as Sam Spade was in the original book, so his affair with his partner's wife is played down - in fact in typical 1940s misogynist-fashion poor Iva gets all the blame! Neither does our hero strip-search Miss Wonderly as he does in 1931. And at the end his motives are the standard 'a man's got to do what a man's got to do' with no hint of the sleaze Dashiell Hammett envisaged. In the original story his secretary Effie is horrified at what he has done.

In the 1931 version, Effie (played by Una Merkel) comes across as a believable character, but here she has been turned into a 1940s clich. She is no longer a vulnerable teenage secretary for Sam Spade to paw, but a 'pal' who rolls cigarettes for him. This is to become part of Bogart's persona. In the Big Sleep a young female taxi driver is eager to give out her phone number to this middle-aged man, and another young woman closes her bookshop early just to get the chance to drink hard liquor with him - believable, it ain't!

But it is to Huston's credit that he created all this and made such a superb 1940s-style film. There are only a few respect in which the film fails, and those are due to the changes Huston was forced to make in the 1931 script. For example, to suit Bogart's persona he has to live in a 'modern' high-rise building with elevators, not an old fashioned apartment block - and that precludes the fire escape by which Joel Cairo sneaks into Spade's apartment in the 1931 version. The scene in the 1941 version lacks the logic of the 1931 version.

Similarly when Miss Wonderly says to Spade "But I thought you loved me, Sam!", the viewer might wonder how that came about. They have only seen each other a few times, and probably for less than an hour in total. The answer is a missing episode which the censors would never have passed in 1941. I won't give away what happens, but it's worth watching the 1931 version for that alone. In fact the scene where an apartment gets ransacked is as close to Film Noir as you can get.

The 1941 version is a great film, but it's not the best version of the Maltese Falcon. In my opinion that has to be the 1931 version. The dialogue is exactly the same, the story has better inner logic, and when you get right down to it and compare the Miss Wonderly's, the sexless Mary Astor couldn't hold a candle to Bebe Daniells.



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(pethly@hotmail.com)


Date: 28 June 2001
Summary: Brilliant Film Noir

The Maltese Falcon was the first film noir, the first major film role for Humphrey Bogart, and the first film to use the typical hard-boiled detective persona. It created the usual patterns for the film noir, such as its use of shadows, the untrustworthy characters, the complex and tortous plot, the bleak and melancholy atmosphere, and the pessimistic protagonist.

Many film noirs are easy to forget, but The Maltese Falcon unforgettable, due to its memorable characters, such as the cynical Sam Spade, the femme fatale, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, the twisted Joel Cairo, the sinister Fat Man, and the low-life punk, Wilmer.

The Maltese Falcon is a truly remarkable film that can be viewed without any attempts to follow it's plot. It is a tale of greed with several crooks all trying to get a hold of "the stuff that dreams are made of," the black bird statuette filled with priceless gold and jewels. It is a film well worth watching whether you are familiar with film noir or not.



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doctorklopek-1


Date: 8 June 2001
Summary: The Maltese Falcon

Although it seems I am against the whole world on this, I say The Maltese Falcon is a relatively poor film. This may have been one of the first noirs, but does that alone make it one of the best? Perhaps in its time it was influential, but now it's just boring. There is nothing of interest or significance to keep my attention. In my opinion a far superior Bogart noir is The Big Sleep, directed by Howard Hawks... This ranks up there with Some Like It Hot as one of the most overrated films of all time; I think both are films that people call classic simply because they've been called that for so long.



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tedg (tedg@infi.net)
Virginia Beach

Date: 10 June 2001
Summary: The Mystical Narrator

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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marquis de cinema
Boston, MA

Date: 5 June 2001
Summary: The Start of an Illustrious Filmmaker

The Maltese Falcon(1941) Marked the directorial debut of a director who helped create the film noir genre. One of the greatest film debut by a director in the person of John Huston. The director shows off his talents in filming and story telling. Both Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon were done in the same year and done by talented and young directors. It is very rare that the first film of a film maker would be a masterpiece as with the case with John Huston's The Maltese Falcon(1941).

Responsible for the transformation of Humphrey Bogart from Screen villain to Romantic tough guy. After the success of High Sierra(1940), the producers at Warner Brothers though it was time for a change in the film persona of Humphrey Bogart. This film and Casablanca(1942) help define the Bogart mystique. The actor's road to legendary status was difficult, long, but career rewarding. Bogart after The Maltese Falcon(1941) would not play a screen villain until the early 1950s with his role in The Desperate Hours(1955).

There were many changes made in the film adaption of the book. First, the relationship between Sam Spade and Iva Archer is more complex and fully developed in the book than in the film. Second, a few characters are ommitted from the film like for example the daughter of Kasper Gutman, Rhea. Third, the homoerotic aspects of the book has been toned down with small hints scattered thoughout. Finally, a scene in the last section of the book where Spade asks Miss O'Shaughnessy to undress herself in the bathroom in his presence to see if she's hiding a 1000 dollar bill in her dress.

Humphrey Bogart gives a great performance as the tough but romantic hopeless, Sam Spade. His performance is the role model for the behaviors of many detectives in many Film Noirs. The actor's performance is strong and three dimensional. The Maltese Falcon(1941) made a star out of Humphrey Bogart in the same way that Stagecoach(1939) made a star out of John Wayne. Humphrey Bogart was the ideal choice for the role of Sam Spade for its hard to see anyone else play the character with the same kind of restraint and subtleness as Bogart does here.

The Greenstreet/Lorre/Cook Jr triangle is an intriquing element of The Maltese Falcon. The triangle motif is an essential part of the John Huston filmography. Motif of the triangle also shows up in Treasure of the Sierra Madre(1948), Beat the Devil(1954), and Annie(1982). The Gutman/Cairo/Cook threesome is the most memorable team of villains in film history. Beat the Devil gave a homage/parody to the excellent performances from the three actors.

In the book, Effie Perine is presented as a tough minded secretary who is able to state her personal opinion to Sam Spade without backing down. In the film, she is basically a one dimensional character. Mary Astor plays the first Femme Fatal of the Film Noir era. No one plays a femme fatal with such erotic and intellegent tendecies like Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon. The actress gives a perfect balace between being treacherous and vulnerable.

A few themes find its way in the Maltse Falcon(1941) and other John Huston pics. One, theme of greed(Maltese Falcon[1941], Treasure of the Sierra Madre[1948], Beat the Devil[1954], and Annie[1982]). Two, theme of obsession(Maltese Falcon[1941], Moby Dick[1956], and Wise Blood[1979]). Three, theme of honor over love(Maltese Falcon[1941] and Prizzi's Honor[1986]). Four, theme of redemption(Across the Pacific[1942], Key Largo[1948], Red Badge of Courage[1951], and Fat City[1972]).

A major mistake made by the filmmakers was the ommission of the Flitcraft tale from the film's plot. The tale of Flitcraft is about the unpredictable and unset patterns of nature. A line from the tale that follows in the idea of the previous sentence is "Life could be ended for him at random by a falling beam:he could change his life at random by simply going away". The Flitcraft tale is one element of the novel that made it fascinating to read. Its importance lies in the story's notions of the unpredicatabilty of human nature that applies to the film's main central theme.

Both the main characters of The Maltese Falcon and Prizzi's Honor are given the choice of honor or love. Sam and Charley are in love with the main female character who has a shady past. The two characters from The Maltese Falcon and Prizzi's Honor are reluctant at first to turn on the main female character. In the end Charley and Sam decide that their honor must be upheld in lieu of love. Both Charley and Sam are broken hearted after each making their decision.

The ending of the book differs from the ending of the film. The book ends with Sam Spade and Iva Archer getting back together again. The final scene of Prizzi's Honor(1986) is similar to the final scene in the novel of The Maltese Falcon(1941). The closest thing to another Humphrey Bogart is Jack Nicholson who would make an excellent Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe. The acting is excellent and the San Fransico of the early 1940s is wonderfully depicted by John Huston.



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Geofbob
London, England

Date: 5 June 2001
Summary: A portrait of cynicism - in black and (hardly any) white!

This is the Hollywood film noir par excellence, because it is - well - so black, including of course the fabulous black bird. There is hardly an uncynical line in the movie, and you can be sure that if any character says anything remotely soft they're lying!

The whole theme of the film is deceit and manipulation, Everybody is trying to chisel everybody else, so that you have no idea who's on who's side. Is Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) for or against Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet); what was the relationship between Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) and dead Thursby; and where does Captain Jacobi (Walter Huston, briefly) fit in? You can't tell, and it doesn't matter, because the characters change their relationships as casually as they change their underwear. In fact, it could be argued that one of the only honest characters in the movie is the "gunsel" Wilmer Cook, played by his namesake Elisha Cook Jr, who is no more and no less than he seems to be - a cheap crook with gaudy patter.

And what about Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade; is he the tough, but essentially moral, character, Bogart would play in Casablanca and The Big Sleep; does he behave ethically and honorably? Some postings on IMDb would have you believe so, but I think that beneath a fairly thin veneer of charm Spade is as cold, venal and self-seeking as the rest. His treatment of ex-lover, Iva Archer (Gladys George), goes beyond hardboiled-ness, and is downright cruel; the alacrity with which he erases his dead partner's name from the office door is cheap and mean; and does anyone believe him when he says that he will wait 20 years for O'Shaughnessy while she serves her time? (Though, with a good lawyer, she'll probably get off anyway.) In turning in the villains he seems to be acting as a good citizen, but is simply looking after his own interests, as he knows that otherwise the police will probably get him - in any case, since when has grassing been an honorable profession?

The dialogue and acting in the movie are impeccable, with of course Greenstreet as the standout; his achievement is even more impressive when you realise that - after a long stage career - this was his debut movie at the age of 62! As someone else has pointed out, it's a pity that we tend to remember Lorre as Greenstreet's sidekick in this and subsequent films, though Lorre was a major film actor well before this; but this was probably only one of many disappointments in Lorre's career.

Perhaps the most successful and satisfying aspect of The Maltese Falcon is its consistency of mood, even if that mood is unremitting in its cynicism.



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dshafer (shaferdaniel@yahoo.com)
New York

Date: 24 May 2001
Summary: Much Ado About Nothing

Detective Sam Spade is the quintessential depiction of objectivism in this classic film noir of high wit and surprising twists. As all other characters chase "the stuff that dreams are made of", Spade casually cuts through their foolish antics with unwavering stoic strength. He is unmoved when his partner is murdered, as he is having an affair with his wife. He immediately casts all of Ms. O'Shaunessy's tales aside as "lies" in spite of her appealing looks and attempts at seduction (A man in love would not have sent her to the hole). He knocks out the quivering Joe Cairo with an easy jab. He deftly manipulates the Fat Man and his mutinous partners. As all of the other characters swirl about the film with high emotion, to the point of multiple murders, he is the bedrock of stark objectivism. He is the Anti-romantic hero in a dash for a prize that is a figment of the imagination.



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eibon04
New York City, NY

Date: 3 April 2001
Summary: Impressionable Debut for John Huston

The Maltese Falcon(1941) is a great film loaded with excellent images, acting, directing , and story. The theme of greed is very big in the films of John Huston. They play a major role in Treasure of the Sierra Madre(1948), Key Largo(1948), The Maltese Falcon(1941), Asphalt Jungle(1950), Beat the Devil(1953), and Annie(1982). The romantic style of The Maltese Falcon is used in Prizzi's Honor. In fact the main characters in the film make a choice at the end that they regret. Humphrey Bogart is hard boiled and tough as the detective, Sam Spade. Peter Lorre is uncharacteristicly thin for the role of Joel Cario. The film is not a faithful adaptation to the novel for many reasons. First, the relationship between Sam Spade and Mrs. Archer in the book is more complex and deep. Second, the film plays down the homosexual characteristics of Joel Cairo and Kasper Gutman. Third, the ending of the book is completely different from the film. Fourth, the book has Sam Spade tells the Falcraft tale to Brigid at Spade's place before Joel Cario comes in for a meeting. The exculsion of the Falcraft tale is a major one and this is something that I wished was included in the film.



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JackReese (sasso15@yahoo.com)


Date: 17 February 2001
Summary: There is Conspiracy Here...

This is one of the great ones of the day. I enjoyed the storyline's twists and turns, it made me want to watch it more and more. You will not go to sleep watching this. It also has it's bits of humor as well from minor actors. I found this film very entertaining. There are a few problems though. The 'romance' aspect of it is casually inserted wherever it feels necessary and we really don't understand why. Bogart's acting is superb as usual, but the real delight comes from the way we are drawn into the story. It is definitely worth watching.



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LoneWolf617


Date: 2 February 2001
Summary: Far and Away the Best of Film Noir

Humphrey Bogart is simply brilliant! Without a doubt one of his best performances. His character, Sam Spade, is such a fascinating character because he appears unscrupulous and somewhat crooked in his actions but, he doesn't hesitate to take the case to unravel the mystery of his murdered partner. Although Bogart, without a doubt, steals the show, Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet provide great precursoring performances to their later roles of Ugarte and Ferrari in Casablanca. Looking at the movie from a whole, I love the fact that their are basically only a small handfull of characters in the this film. When casts lack numbers, I believe it provides more insight to all the characters instead of trying to concentrate on a hoard of characters coming in and going out. Film Noir films always provide a unique way of shooting, and THe Maltese Falcon is no different. I loved this movie far more than Double Indemnity, which many consider the best of this genre.



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The_KinG_0F_iR0n_FiST
usa

Date: 22 January 2001
Summary: old school, baby

The Maltese Falcon...what do you think of when you hear this? Film-noir? Suspense? Classic? It's all these. There are not many movies that can capture this kind of magic. Bogey as Sam Spade....brilliant casting. No one else could've pulled it off. I don't really know what it is about this movie. It's not the most interesting movie, in the conventional sense...but, something keeps you glued to the screen....maybe it's just me, i dunno. Crime movies are just wonderful, and if the movie has the coolest man to ever grave the silver screen in it, that's always a big plus. I mean, c'mon, who doesn't want to be Bogey? Anyway, if you haven't had the privelege of seeing this monster of a classic yet, what are you waiting for?



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TxMike
Houston

Date: 7 January 2001
Summary: Bogart at his best, as detective Sam Spade.

Bogart stars in this 1941 film, "The Maltese Falcon", near the middle of his 80-film career spanning 1928 through 1956, and a couple of years before his great role as Rick in "Casablanca." He plays Sam Spade who is hired to help recover the mythical Maltese Falcon, supposedly a jeweled statue from 1500s that was lost in a ship wreck. Each scene turns up new surprises, several people are killed, and eventually the bad guys get caught.

We never see the real falcon, only the lead one that was recovered, so maybe there will be a sequel?? :-) This was writer/director John Huston's first film, and the snappy and often funny dialog is just so perfect. Bogart of course delivers them as only he could during those times. It reminds me of the style modern actor Matt Damon uses at times, to wit, his monologue in "Good Will Hunting" where he is explaining why he does not want to work on code-breaking for the government.

Filming techniques have come a long way in 60 years, but it still is remarkable what they were able to do in the days before color and special effects.