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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Approved | | Film-Noir, Mystery | 18 October 1941 (USA)
2:44 | Trailer

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



(screenplay), (based upon the novel by)
1,625 ( 1,897)
Top Rated Movies #183 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
James Burke ...


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


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


Film-Noir | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Gent from Frisco  »

Box Office


$375,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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. When she first came to Hollywood had an affair with the much older John Barrymore, her husband had been killed in a plane crash, had been married multiple times--which was considered scandalous behavior in those times--and was an alcoholic. During a bitter custody hearing, a diary she had kept recounting her various sexual exploits was made public--her former secretary had stolen it and sold it to a newspaper--and the salacious details were splashed across the front pages of most newspapers in the country for the duration of the trial. See more »


Spade refers to the gun as an automatic, yet he is shown a revolver. The gun shown is a Webley-Fosbery automatic. This was a revolver that used the recoil of the shot to turn the cylinder and re-cock the weapon. It was very well made, but susceptible to dirt and fouling and so, as Spade said, "They don't make 'em anymore". However, it was made in two versions, a six-shot .455 and an eight-shot .38 ACP, so it can't actually be an eight-shot .45 as Spade says it is. See more »


[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.
See more »


Referenced in Bollywood Hero: Episode #1.2 (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Top notch mystery that kicked off the film noir genre of the 1940s
1 December 2002 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

"The Maltese Falcon", scripted and directed by Hollywood first-timer John Huston (from Dashiell Hammett's novel), would go on to become an American film classic. Humphrey Bogart chews the scenery in his star-making turn as acid-tongued private eye Sam Spade, whose association with the beautiful and aloof Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), neurotic Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), and morbidly obese Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet, in his Oscar-nominated screen debut) over the recovery of the title object, sets in motion a movie experience that is as much crackling as it is dazzling. While much of the action and dialogue is considerably dated by modern standards, the film's essential power to mystify and entrance remains undiminished despite its age. While this was the third adaptation of Hammett's story (the first was made in 1931 and the second was "Satan Met a Lady" (1936)), this is also the best remembered and most praised, due largely in part to Bogart's seemingly effortless portrayal of the tough but softhearted, world-weary hero. Mary Astor and Lee Patrick were, respectively, the definitive femme fatale and girl Friday, and the villianous roles of Cairo, Gutman and Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) were equally remarkable. What may not be wholly obvious is the fact that these three men have homosexual tendencies (as given in the novel), but just look at what's given: Cairo's delicate speech and manner, Wilmer's questionable quick tempered attitude towards Spade (could this be covering up the fact that he finds Spade attractive?) and Gutman's clutching of Spade's arm when Sam arrives at his hotel room. A polished film noir that gave rise to Bogart's mounting popularity. (Sidenote: The character of Sam Spade was originally offered to George Raft, who turned it down. Raft also turned down "Casablanca" (1942), "High Sierra" (1941) and William Wyler's "Dead End" (1937), all of which went to Bogart and helped to boost his star status. Bogart had Raft to thank for his enduring popularity.) A must-see masterpiece. ****

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