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 Wanderly, 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 Wanderly 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
When Warner Brothers saw how successful the film was, it decided to produce a sequel. Director John Huston had written a script for the sequel, to be titled "Three Strangers". The film was supposed to contain many of the primary characters from this film, specifically Sam Spade. Before the film reached production, however, Dashiell Hammett informed Warner Brothers that he owned the rights to the characters, and even though the studio had purchased the rights to the novel, it did not own the rights to the characters. Three Strangers (1946) was eventually filmed with different characters. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet appeared in both "The Maltese Falcon" and "Three Strangers". See more »
When Sam first puts the Falcon on the table Gutman is smoking a cigar. When he begins to scratch the Falcon there is no cigar in sight. 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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