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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  18 October 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 103,736 users  
Reviews: 330 user | 150 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.



(screenplay), (based upon the novel by)
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Top 250 Movies #164 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »



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


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


He's as fast on the draw as he is in the drawing room! See more »


Not Rated | 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
See  »

Did You Know?


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 (one day--July 4--was taken off). See more »


Joel Cairo's passport refers to Lepanto. This name is an Italian name and hasn't been used since the middle ages; the current name (and that in use since his dob, is Naupactus). See more »


[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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The best detective story.
19 November 2003 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

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.

35 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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