After the death of private detective Sam Spade, his son, Sam Spade Jr. (who only knew his father very briefly) is forced to inherit his San Francisco detective agency, much to his chagrin. He also must keep his father's sarcastic secretary, Effie Perrine ("Godzilla"), and must continue his father's tradition of "serving minorities". One day, an obese man named Caspar Gutman is killed just outside Spade's building, his last words being "It's black and as long as your arm". Later on, Spade is given an offer by a member of the Order of St. John's Hospital to purchase his father's useless copy of the Maltese Falcon. A right-wing thug named Gordon Immerman (Spade calls him "Andrew Jackson" after he gave Spade his "calling card", a bill), has been hired to make sure Spade delivers the bird, but he quickly warms to the detective, although the feeling is not mutual. Later on, he gets an offer from a Wilmer Cook, but before they can negotiate, he is killed. Shortly thereafter, he encounters a ... Written by
The one thing that becomes clear after reading comments on the IMDb (and which should come as a comfort to filmmakers out there) is that no matter how awful a film may be, it will be the "favorite' of at least one person.
I saw "The Black Bird" as a teenager when it was originally released and remember going back to see it several times, howling at the "in" "Maltese Falcon" jokes, George Segal's hilarious exasperation at everything, Lionel Stander's thick-headed assistant, Stephane Audran's priceless deadpan and mangled English, Lee Patrick's cantankerous Effie...I just found it a riot.
Now, the one thing I was sure of even then was that this wasn't a particularly "good" film, but what it had was a cock-eyed sense of humor for those with a certain awareness of the genre stereotypes.
It updated the musty clichés and made then cynically hip and funny. To this day I can watch my video of the film and crack up when George Segal (dressed in a priest's robe)playfully asks Audran, "Care to confess any sins?" and she, forever missing his jokes, responds seriously "Later, later..."
Trust me, if you found nothing humorous in that exchange, "The Black Bird" is not the film for you.
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