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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 91,910 users  
Reviews: 312 user | 143 critic

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

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(screenplay), (based upon the novel by)
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Title: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

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Top 250 #156 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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A lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of a private detective, who is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Lee Patrick ...
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Jerome Cowan ...
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James Burke ...
Murray Alper ...
John Hamilton ...
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Storyline

Spade and Archer is the name of a San Francisco detective agency. That's for Sam Spade and Miles Archer. The two men are partners, but Sam doesn't like Miles much. A knockout, who goes by the name of Miss Wanderly, walks into their office; and by that night everything's changed. Miles is dead. And so is a man named Floyd Thursby. It seems Miss Wanderly is surrounded by dangerous men. There's Joel Cairo, who uses gardenia-scented calling cards. There's Kasper Gutman, with his enormous girth and feigned civility. Her only hope of protection comes from Sam, who is suspected by the police of one or the other murder. More murders are yet to come, and it will all be because of these dangerous men -- and their lust for a statuette of a bird: the Maltese Falcon. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He's a Killer When He Hates! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Gent from Frisco  »

Box Office

Budget:

$375,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #31 Greatest Movie of All Time. See more »

Goofs

When Sam first goes to see Gutman in 12C, as he walks down the corridor we can see that directly in front of him is a chair, a table with flowers on and a silhouette of a diamond framed window and the flowers on the wall, but when he leaves we can see two chairs either side of the table and the diamond frame silhouette is not there. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sam Spade: Yes, sweetheart?
Effie Perine: There's a girl wants to see you. Her name's Wonderly.
Sam Spade: A customer?
Effie Perine: I guess so. You'll want to see her anyway. She's a knockout.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Mole People (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
"I Won't Play The Sap For You."
20 January 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Maltese Falcon has a totally atypical Hollywood history. After two previous filmings of Dashiell Hammett's novel, the third time a classic film was achieved. Usually the original is best and the remakes are the inferior product.

These characters that John Huston wrote and breathed life into with his direction are so vital and alive even 65 years after the premiere of The Maltese Falcon. You can watch this one fifty times and still be entertained by it.

I'm not sure how the code let this one slip through. Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade is partners with Jerome Cowan in a detective agency Spade and Archer. Client Mary Astor comes into their office requesting help in getting rid of a man who's intruding in on her life. Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer eagerly takes the assignment and gets himself bumped off for his troubles.

Cowan is quite the skirt chaser and he certainly isn't the first or the last man to think with his hormones. That's OK because Bogart's been fooling around with his wife, Gladys George. That gives the police, Barton MacLane and Ward Bond, motive enough to suspect Bogart might have had a hand in Cowan's death.

As fans of The Maltese Falcon are well aware, there's quite a bit more to the story than that. Bogart's investigation leads him to a crew of adventurous crooks, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr. who are in pursuit of a statue of a Falcon that is said to be encrusted in gold and precious jewels.

The Maltese Falcon is a milestone film role for Humphrey Bogart. It is the first time that Bogey was ever first billed in an A picture while he was at Warner Brothers. In fact this is also John Huston's first film as a director. He had previously just been a screenwriter and in fact got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay he wrote here. There are some who will argue that this first film is Huston's best work and I'd be hard up to dispute that.

After a long career on stage The Maltese Falcon was the screen debut of Sydney Greenstreet. Greenstreet may be orally flatulent here, but there's no doubt to the menace he exudes while he's on screen. Greenstreet got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley. Greenstreet created quite a gallery of characters for the next ten years, mostly for Warner Brothers.

A favorite character of mine in The Maltese Falcon has always been Lee Patrick as Effie, the secretary at Spade&Archer. She's loyal, efficient and crushing out on Bogey big time. This and the part of Mrs. Topper in the television series Topper are Lee Patrick's career roles. I never watch The Maltese Falcon without hoping that Bogey will recognize how really "precious" Effie is.

The Maltese Falcon will be entertaining people hundreds of years from now. And please no more remakes of this one.


61 of 86 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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