Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Maltese Falcon

1941 American Feature

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan and Elisha Cook Jr.
Writer/Director: John Huston, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett

Private eye Sam Spade's hunt for the killer of his partner leads him into a world of deception and double-crosses as a trio of criminals searches for a priceless statue known as the Maltese Falcon.


  • Internet Movie Database: 8.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 100% / Audience: 92%
  • OMG rating: 8/10

  • DVD/Blu-ray: Available
  • Soundtrack: Available
  • Book: Available


  • Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Greenstreet) and Writing - Screenplay.

  • Dashiell Hammett's 1930 detective novel The Maltese Falcon, originally serialized in the magazine Black Mask, was adapted for film two times prior to this (inarguably the most famous) version: in 1931 starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, and 1936's Satan Met a Lady, a light-comedy adaptation starring Bette Davis.
  • Directorial debut of John Huston. His father, actor Walter Huston, makes an uncredited cameo appearance as the freighter captain who delivers the Maltese Falcon to Sam Spade's office.
  • Casting Call: Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Havilland, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Rita Hayworth and George Raft.
  • Peter Lorre's character, Joel Cairo, was clearly homosexual in the novel, but this was downplayed considerably to avoid problems with the censors. Nevertheless, Cairo is still noticeably effeminate; for example, his calling cards and handkerchiefs are scented with gardenias, and he makes subtle fellating gestures with his cane during his interview with Sam Spade. By contrast, in the novel Cairo is blatently referred to as "queer" and "fairy".
  • Film debut (at age 62) of stage actor Sydney Greenstreet. His character, Kasper Gutman (a.k.a. the "Fat Man"), has also been interpreted as homosexual.
  • Additionally, Elisha Cook Jr.'s Wilmer Cook is referred to as a "gunsel", a slang term that could mean a young gay man in a relationship with an older man. However, it must be noted, "gunsel" could also refer to a "fall guy" or a "stool pigeon".
  • Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet would later co-star in 1942's Casablanca. Lorre and Greenstreet co-starred together in a total of ten films.
  • Three of the Maltese Falcon statuettes still exist and are conservatively valued at over $1 million each, making them some of the most valuable film props ever made. In fact, they are now worth more than the film cost to make.
  • There has been many unofficial remakes and sequels, including 1975's The Black Bird, a spoof starring George Segal as "Sam Spade, Jr." (with Elisha Cook Jr. and Lee Patrick reprising their roles from the 1941 film) and 1977's The Jade Pussycat, a hardcore pornographic remake starring John C. Holmes.
  • In 1988, The Maltese Falcon was ranked #23 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Movies" list.
  • In 1989, The Maltese Falcon was inducted into the National Film Registry, one of the first 25 films to be so honored.
  • In 2001, The Maltese Falcon was ranked #26 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Thrills" list.
  • In 2005, "The stuff that dreams are made of" was ranked #14 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Movie Quotes" list.
  • In 2007, The Maltese Falcon was ranked #31 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Movies - 10th Anniversary Edition" list.
  • In 2008, The Maltese Falcon was ranked the #6 Mystery on the American Film Institute's "10 Top 10" list.

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