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


John Huston


John Huston (screen play by), Dashiell Hammett (based upon the novel by)
4,113 ( 112)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Humphrey Bogart ... Samuel Spade
Mary Astor ... Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Gladys George ... Iva Archer
Peter Lorre ... Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane ... Lt. of Detectives Dundy
Lee Patrick ... Effie Perine
Sydney Greenstreet ... Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond ... Detective Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan ... Miles Archer
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Wilmer Cook
James Burke ... Luke
Murray Alper ... Frank Richman
John Hamilton ... Bryan


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


KILLER BOGART a guy without a conscience MARY ASTOR a dame without a heart! (Print Ad- Berkeley Daily Gazette, ((Berkeley, Calif.)) 21 January 1942) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


When John Huston was informed of who was to be his leading man, "I thanked God. It was a blessing!" See more »


Joe tells Sam that he's staying at the Hotel Belvedere, room 635. Later he enters the hotel goes to the desk and asks for the key to room 603. 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.
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Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Referenced in Hoot (2006) See more »

User Reviews

First of the great films noir & John Huston movies
6 December 2020 | by dfloroSee all my reviews

Not only is "The Maltese Falcon" one of the first prototypical examples in what would be the subsequent 10 years of great film noir movies, it's also the first movie in the exemplary directing career of John Huston (from the screenplay he adapted from Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade novel). And, even though Bogart had been acting throughout the '30s in mostly supporting roles opposite great actors (like Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, etc.) and actresses (Bette Davis, Ida Lupino, Ann Sheridan, etc.), this role was to make him a bankable star & lead.

Like many films in the noir genre, the unnecessarily complicated plot devices are secondary to lighting, mood, tone, and the imperfect cast of characters. It's not as absolutely inscrutable as "The Big Sleep," but more or less tied with "Out of the Past" on the hard to follow scale. Mary Astor was an old pro by this time, and she'd said that the motion picture newbie, Sydney Greenstreet, was scared to death during his scenes, though you'd certainly never know it from the result.

Huston managed to find a little cameo appearance for his father, Walter Huston as the mysterious Captain Jacoby. And the matte black statuette of the title is perhaps the ultimate example of what Hitchcock called the "MacGuffin," and as Bogart tells his cop friend at the end: "It's what dreams are made of." Indeed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

18 October 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gent from Frisco See more »


Box Office


$375,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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