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
It was Howard Hawks who knew that John Huston wanted to direct. He suggested that Huston do this film, which was already owned by Warner Brothers and had been adapted to film twice before. Unlike the previous productions, Hawks suggested that Huston "film the book." Before going on a vacation, Huston gave his secretary a copy of the book and told her to type it up in screenplay form. Studio chief Jack L. Warner saw the script, read it and gave it a green light even before Huston had a chance to read it. See more »
Spade doesn't wear rings or a watch throughout the movie except for one scene. At one point he walks into his office wearing a wedding band on his left hand, another large ring on his right hand and an expensive-looking wristwatch. He sits down to have a quick chat with his secretary where the rings and watch are in plain view. He then walks through a doorway into his inner office and the rings and watch are gone. See more »
I love this movie. I didn't love it until I'd watched it a couple of times.
And I didn't love it quite so much until I'd read Harvey Greenberg's "Movies on Your Mind."
But I now think that, within the strictures of its budget, it's about as good as it can get. Sam Spade is a marvelous character in this film. He gives practically nothing away, while gathering information from others simply by letting them talk, kind of like a shrink.
And it's hard to believe that they could have found a cast that fit the templates of the novel so perfectly. Sidney Greenstreet IS the "fat man." Peter Lorre IS the queer. My nomination for best scene: When Greenstreet attempts to peel off the black enamel from the captured bird and finds that it's nothing but lead and begins to hack away at it, as if it were alive and he were trying to kill it. Nothing is more amusing than a fat man lipid with rage.
If you see this one, and I hope you do, make note of the phenomenal black and white photography. (I hope you have a good connection.) Watch, for instance, the glissade of the camera when Bogart says, "You have brains. Yes, you do."
In case you're worried about this being too sophisticated for enjoyment by an ordinary audience, I should mention that I showed this (in one connection or another, I forget) to a class of Marines at Camp Lejeune. They enjoyed the hell out of it, especially the scene in which Mary Astor kicks Peter Lorre in the shins.
Don't miss it.
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