The Maltese Falcon
1941 | Film Noir | 101 minutes | In English
In San Francisco in 1941, private investigators Sam Spade and his partner Miles Archer take on a client, the beautiful Ruth Wonderly. She wants them to locate her missing sister, who she feels has been abducted. The situation becomes complicated when Archer is murdered. Shortly thereafter, Spade is visited by Joel Cairo, a nefarious character who offers Spade $5,000 to fadditionally reveals that Kasper Gutman (known as the “Fat Man) is also pursuing the Maltese Falcon and happens to be in town. Spade meets Gutman who relates to Spade the history of the Falcon, a statue with an exterior of black porcelain that encases gold and precious jewels. Gutman offers Spade a large sum of money if he can deliver the Maltese Falcon. A few days later Spade meets up with Gutman and delivers a fake statue. Gutman and Cairo, suspecting a police set-up, try escaping to Istanbul to continue their search for the Falcon. The two are apprehended. Spade now knows that it was Brigid who ordered the killing of his partner Archer. She confesses but begs Spade not to turn her over to the police. She professes a deep love for him. Spade is a tough law-and-order investigator but he is also definitely attracted to the seductive Brigid. Should he let her go or should he inform the police?
Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade) / Mary Astor (Ruth Wonderly/Brigid O’Shaughnessy) / Sydney Greenstreet (Kasper Gutman) / Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo) / Jerome Cowen (Miles Archer)
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
- Metacritic Score: 96
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet); Best Adapted Screenplay (John Huston).
The film was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 1989.
It was included in Roger Ebert’s GREAT MOVIE Series.
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Among the movies we not only love but treasure, THE MALTESE FALCON stands as a great divide. Consider what was true after its release in 1941 that was not true before: The movie defined Humphrey Bogart’s performances for the rest of his life; it was the first film directed by John Huston, who for more than 40 years would be a prolific maker of movies that were muscular, stylish and daring. Some film historians consider THE MALTESE FALCON as the first film noir.
This is one of the best examples of actionful and suspenseful melodramatic story telling in cinematic form. The film displays outstanding excellence in writing, direction, acting and editing combining in overall as a prize package of entertainment for the widest audience appeal.
THE MALTESE FALCON turns out to be the best mystery thriller of the year. We had almost forgotten how devilishly delightful such films can be when done with taste and understanding and a feeling of the fine line of suspense.
THE MALTESE FALCON is the first crime melodrama with finish, speed and bang to come along in what seems ages. The chief character in the story is Humphrey Bogart, a man of explosive action in an iron mask. He is not a villain here, though a pretty hard type; but it doesn’t make any difference: he has some of that magnetism you can feel through the screen; he is a villain with appeal.
THE MALTESE FALCON is going to be one of the most profitable and talked about pictures of the year. It’s a distinguished celluloid entertainment.
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