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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated | | Film-Noir, Mystery | 18 October 1941 (USA)
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A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

John Huston (screen play by), Dashiell Hammett (based upon the novel by)
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4,577 ( 42)
Top Rated Movies #228 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

It's thrilling . . . it's chilling . . . it's the most baffling mystery story in years ! See more »

Genres:

Film-Noir | Mystery

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gent from Frisco See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$375,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,108,060

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,862,960
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Having seen how profligate novice writer-directors like Orson Welles and Preston Sturges had been, Warner Brothers was not keen on giving John Huston too much control. The studio acquiesced when Huston agreed to do an immediate polish on the script for Sergeant York (1941). See more »

Goofs

The opening crawl begins, "In 1539, the Knight Templars[sic] of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon..." This confuses two different religious orders of knights, both founded in Jerusalem. The Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, known as the Order of St. John for short, have existed since 1048; they were in fact based in Malta from 1530 to 1798 and hence were also called the Knights of Malta. On the other hand, the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, also called the Knights Templar or just Templars, were founded in 1119 and became the sworn enemies of the first order; this latter group was disbanded by 1312, after King Philip IV of France had declared them heretics so that he could confiscate their wealth. See more »

Quotes

[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.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Night Court: Educating Rhoda (1988) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
"I Won't Play The Sap For You."
20 January 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Maltese Falcon has a totally atypical Hollywood history. After two previous filmings of Dashiell Hammett's novel, the third time a classic film was achieved. Usually the original is best and the remakes are the inferior product.

These characters that John Huston wrote and breathed life into with his direction are so vital and alive even 65 years after the premiere of The Maltese Falcon. You can watch this one fifty times and still be entertained by it.

I'm not sure how the code let this one slip through. Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade is partners with Jerome Cowan in a detective agency Spade and Archer. Client Mary Astor comes into their office requesting help in getting rid of a man who's intruding in on her life. Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer eagerly takes the assignment and gets himself bumped off for his troubles.

Cowan is quite the skirt chaser and he certainly isn't the first or the last man to think with his hormones. That's OK because Bogart's been fooling around with his wife, Gladys George. That gives the police, Barton MacLane and Ward Bond, motive enough to suspect Bogart might have had a hand in Cowan's death.

As fans of The Maltese Falcon are well aware, there's quite a bit more to the story than that. Bogart's investigation leads him to a crew of adventurous crooks, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr. who are in pursuit of a statue of a Falcon that is said to be encrusted in gold and precious jewels.

The Maltese Falcon is a milestone film role for Humphrey Bogart. It is the first time that Bogey was ever first billed in an A picture while he was at Warner Brothers. In fact this is also John Huston's first film as a director. He had previously just been a screenwriter and in fact got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay he wrote here. There are some who will argue that this first film is Huston's best work and I'd be hard up to dispute that.

After a long career on stage The Maltese Falcon was the screen debut of Sydney Greenstreet. Greenstreet may be orally flatulent here, but there's no doubt to the menace he exudes while he's on screen. Greenstreet got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley. Greenstreet created quite a gallery of characters for the next ten years, mostly for Warner Brothers.

A favorite character of mine in The Maltese Falcon has always been Lee Patrick as Effie, the secretary at Spade&Archer. She's loyal, efficient and crushing out on Bogey big time. This and the part of Mrs. Topper in the television series Topper are Lee Patrick's career roles. I never watch The Maltese Falcon without hoping that Bogey will recognize how really "precious" Effie is.

The Maltese Falcon will be entertaining people hundreds of years from now. And please no more remakes of this one.


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