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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 18 October 1941 (USA)
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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Top Rated Movies #204 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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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 Wonderly, 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 Wonderly 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:

A guy without a conscience! A dame without a heart! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

18 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Gent from Frisco  »

Box Office

Budget:

$375,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although this was the 62-year old Sydney Greenstreet's film debut, he had already worked as a prominent stage actor for 40 years. See more »

Goofs

When searching for the body, Sam's handkerchief is ruffled only while he is in the room, not before or after. 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: Customer?
Effie Perine: I guess so. You'll want to see her anyway. She's a knockout.
Sam Spade: Shoo her in, Effie darling, shoo her in.
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Connections

Referenced in Anonymous Rex (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Absorbing and worthy suspense film about blackmails , killings , corruption and strong intrigue
14 March 2015 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

This one of the all-time grand films , a classic Noir Film with gritty interpretation , atmospheric settings and powerhouse filmmaking , at John Huston's first effort directorial . This is a story as explosive as his blazing automatics . Womanizer Sam Sapade is a two-fisted and cynical private detective operating in the big city . When his secretary tells him the new customer (Mary Astor) waiting outside his office is a knockout, he wastes no time before seeing her. It turns out she's a knockout with money. And she wants to spend it on his services as a private detective . This lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of the notorious private detective . She has some story about wanting to protect her sister. Neither he nor his partner, Miles Archer, believes it. But with the money she's paying, who cares? The job proves to be more dangerous than either of them expected. It involves not just the lovely dame with the dangerous lies, but also the sweaty Casper Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet) , the fey Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) , and the thuggish young Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook Jr) . Three crooks, and all of them are looking for the statuette of a black bird they call the Maltese Falcon . Spade is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon . As Sam fights to get hold of a black bird ¨the stuff that dreams are made¨ (a line suggested by Humphrey Bogart was voted as the #14 movie quote by the American Film Institute) .

This first-rate and entertaining picture draws its riveting tale and power from the interaction of finely drawn roles as well as drama , emotion and moody atmosphere . This classic mystery thriller follows Dashiell Hammett's book fairly closely otherwise , he also wrote ¨The thin man¨. Twisted film Noir about murders , troubled relationships , treason , dark secrets , including an unforgettable dialog ; being based on the novel ¨The Maltese Falcon¨¨and screen-written by the same Huston . Frustrated at seeing his script for Juárez (1939) rewritten by Paul Muni, the film's star, John Huston vowed that from then on he would direct his own screenplays and therefore not have to see them get meddled with. He was fortunate in that he had a staunch ally in the form of producer Henry Blanke who was happy to fulfill Huston's wish. Word-for-word and scene-for-scene virtually the same as the original novel. It packs a good realization , an original script , haunting atmosphere , intriguing events ; for that reason madness and murder prevail .The climactic confrontation scene lasts nearly 20 minutes, one-fifth of the entire running time of the film. It involves all five principal characters, and filming required over one full week . Here Bogart is extraordinary and as cool as ever ; he plays as the tough-talking P.I. Although George Raft was originally cast as Sam Spade , he allegedly turned it down because it was "not an important picture," taking advantage of a clause in his contract that said he did not have to work on remakes . For decades this film could not be legally shown on US television stations because of its underlying suggestions of "illicit" sexual activity among the characters (i.e., O'Shaughnessy's promiscuity, indications that Joel Cairo was a homosexual). Much of the movie is filmed over Humphrey Bogart's shoulder so that the audience can be in on his point of view. His scenes with Mary Astor are awesome and at their best compared to those he subsequently shared with Lauren Bacall in ¨Dark passage¨ , ¨Key Largo¨ , ¨The big sleep¨ and ¨To have and to have not¨ . The couple Bogart-Astor throws in enough sparks to ignite several lighters . This was the first pairing of cynical Humphrey Bogart and Femme Fatale Mary Astor . Mary Astor's off-screen notoriety was instrumental in her casting , she had been in several scandals concerning affairs she had been involved in during her marriage. And she was having an affair with John Huston during the making of the film. Magnificent support cast , here was the first pairing of Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, who would go on to make nine more movies together. Exciting as well as complex film , possessing a mysterious and fascinating blend of gripping thriller , serenity , baroque suspense in which especially stands out the portentous performances , evocative cinematography in black and white by Arthur Edeson and magnificent musical score by the classic Adolph Deutsch . And also shown in horrible computer-colored version . The motion picture was masterfully directed by John Huston ; filming was completed in two months at a cost of less than $300,000.

A former version in 1931 by Roy Del Ruth , it was also pretty good starred by Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly , Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade , Dudley Digges as Casper Gutman and Una Merkel as Effie Perine . In fact , Warner Bros. planned to change the name of the film to "The Gent from Frisco" because the novel's title had already been used for this The Maltese Falcon (1931) , the studio eventually agreed to keep the original title at John Huston's insistence.


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