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Satan Met a Lady (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 22 July 1936 (USA)
In this spoof of the story The Maltese Falcon (1941) is based on, a double-crossing woman, the two-timing P.I. she hired, the corpulent "empress of crime", and a gentleman thief are all after a legendary priceless eighth-century ram's horn.

Director:

William Dieterle

Writers:

Brown Holmes (screen play), Dashiell Hammett (based on a novel by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Valerie Purvis
Warren William ... Ted Shane
Alison Skipworth ... Madame Barabbas
Arthur Treacher ... Anthony Travers
Marie Wilson ... Miss Murgatroyd
Wini Shaw ... Astrid Ames (as Winifred Shaw)
Porter Hall ... Milton Ames
Olin Howland ... Detective Dunhill
Charles C. Wilson ... Detective Pollock (as Charles Wilson)
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Storyline

Sardonic detective Shane, thrown out of one town for bringing trouble, heads for home and his ex-partner's detective agency. The business is in a sad way, and Shane, who has had the forethought to provide himself with a 250-dollar commission from an old lady on the train, is welcomed with open arms. When pretty Valerie Purvis walks in the next day willing to pay over the odds to put a tail on the man who did her wrong, Shane's way with the ladies looks like paying off yet again. But things start to go wrong when his partner is murdered, and Shane himself comes home to find his apartment wrecked by a gentlemanly crook who comes back to apologise -- and to tell him a fascinating fairy-story about the fabled Horn of Roland that looks like not being so mythical after all. Miss Purvis wants protection. The police want answers. And all sorts of people want the 'French horn'... but Shane is one jump ahead of everyone all the way. Well, almost. Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Mystery

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 July 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hard Luck Dame See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second of three film adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon," this film has notable connections to both other versions. First, this film's screenwriter, Brown Holmes, was also credited as a screenwriter on The Maltese Falcon (1931), directed by Roy Del Ruth. Second, this film's cinematographer, Arthur Edeson, was also the director of photography for John Huston's The Maltese Falcon (1941). Third, Warren William, who plays the Sam Spade character (Ted Shane) in this film, also played Perry Mason in a series of films beginning in 1934, but was replaced in 1936 by Ricardo Cortez - who had played Sam Spade in the 1931 "Maltese Falcon". Finally, Bette Davis filled in for Raymond Burr when he had to have surgery in Perry Mason: The Case of Constant Doyle (1963). See more »

Goofs

In his discussion with Madame Barabbas, Shane tells her the item she seeks is so valuable that it is worth her paying him plenty to find it. But actor Warren William muffs the line, saying "It's worth playing me plenty." See more »

Quotes

Ted Shayne: Find anything in the divan?
Anthony Travers: Only a few hairpins and some loose change.
Ted Shayne: [holding out hat] Come across!
See more »

Connections

Spoofs The Maltese Falcon (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Georgia Brown
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Maceo Pinkard and Ben Bernie
Played by the band at the nightclub
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Of The Maltese Falcon's three filmings, hands down the worst
16 July 2003 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Not even Bette Davis could save a lousy script. Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon might seem a surefire property, as its first version in 1931 (sometimes called Dangerous Female) and the canonical 1941 John Huston movie testify. But Satan Met A Lady misfires badly.

The problem with the script isn't so much that it's mediocre as that it's misconceived. The thinking behind it stays fairly transparent, however: The Thin Man, based on another Hammett novel, proved a big hit over at MGM. Warner Brothers hoped to work the same magic by subjecting Falcon to a blithe, tongue-in-cheek treatment. It didn't take.

The cosmetic changes applied to disguise the original story remain, at least to movie buffs, faintly amusing. Private eyes Spade and Archer become Shayne and Ames, while the falcon becomes a medieval ram's horn supposedly stuffed with gems that turn out to be sand. Involved in its pursuit are Warren Williams as Shayne, less the debonair lady-killer he presumably aimed for than a foolish old roué, and Davis as the femme fatale.

The trio of mercenary cutthroats, on their own broad terms, surprisingly remains the most memorable aspect of the movie. The Joel Cairo character becomes Prince-Charles-lookalike Arthur Treacher (whose career would later encompass playing second banana to Merv Griffin and selling his name to a string of fish-‘n'-chips franchises). The gunsel is pudgy and petulant Maynard Holmes, who went uncredited in just about every film he ever appeared in, including this one. Best of all is crusty Alison Skipworth, pinch-hitting as the Fat Man. And as Williams' dumb-blonde secretary Murgatroyd, Marie Wilson starts out irksome but ends up winsome.

But the racy comedy that was piled on falls flat (particularly as projected by Williams and Davis); there was enough irony in Hammett's prose to begin with, and it emerges in the two filmings of the book made five years earlier and five years later. This version even dispenses with the indispensable locale, for The Maltese Falcon was, and is, the quintessential San Francisco story. As a vehicle for Hammett's imagination, the best thing that can be said about Satan Met A Lady is that it's slightly more respectable than the 1979 made-for-television abomination The Dain Curse.


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