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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Approved | | 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 #210 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 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

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

Genres:

Film-Noir | Mystery

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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Company Credits

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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

In real life, Dashiell Hammett had been a one-time operative for Pinkerton's Detective Agency. Brigid O'Shaughnessy was partly based on his secretary, Peggy O'Toole, and partly on a woman who once employed him to fire her housekeeper. Joel Cairo was based on a man Hammett picked up on a forgery charge in 1920, while Wilmer, the gunman, was drawn from a petty criminal who went by the nickname of "The Midget Bandit". See more »

Goofs

The crawl at the beginning of the movie refers to the falcon as being "encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels". Yet when we finally see it, apparently the falcon's surfaces are all smooth. Even with the black enamel coating to disguise it, should we not be able to see the rough texture of the jewels below the enamel? (This has been bothering me for 50 years, yet I have never heard anyone else mention it.) 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 Max Payne (2001) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A classic with good reason
21 March 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

While there are films that are considered classic for their technical achievements and classics that resound with audiences for a feel-good emotion, The Maltese Falcon stands in that group that is a classic for every aspect of its creative makeup. With a brilliant script, talented direction and some outstanding performances, The Maltese Falcon stands up today as well as it did upon release.

When Sam Spade -- played brilliantly by Humphrey Bogart -- and his partner Archer are hired to tail a rich eccentric by a woman who claims her sister is being unwittingly kept separated from her by the rich eccentric, it seems like just another case. But when Archer and the eccentric are gunned down and all fingers point to Sam Spade for conflicting yet damning reasons, Spade is thrown into a whirlwind of deceptions that all point in one direction: a Maltese statue of a falcon.

Bogart demonstrates clearly why he is one of the great classic actors of the 20th century, and indeed one of the most natural screen actors ever. His charisma, charm and intense masculine looks give him a presence that simply dominates the screen. With a host of other great talents to fill the screen, there is not a moment of wasted performance. The direction is tight and driving and the pacing never lets up. And the script demonstrates why there are less and less truly great films being released in present day: the writers and directors of the golden age of cinema knew that subtlety works ten times more effectively than the modern in-your-face all-the-time works.

The Maltese Falcon is a timeless work that deserves its place in the list of greatest films ever made.


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