The Maltese Falcon


1h 40m 1941
The Maltese Falcon

Brief Synopsis

Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade gets caught up in the murderous search for a priceless statue.

Photos & Videos

Maltese Falcon - Poster Art
The Maltese Falcon - Makeup Still
Maltese Falcon - Publicity Stills

Film Details

Also Known As
The Gent from Frisco, The Knight of Malta
Genre
Crime
Thriller
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 18, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (New York, 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,039ft

Synopsis

At the Spade and Archer detective agency in San Francisco, Samuel Spade is interviewed by the beautiful Miss Wonderly, who wishes to hire him to find her runaway sister. Sam's partner, Miles Archer, agrees to be present when Wonderly meets Floyd Thursby, her sister's seducer, and then follow him to his hotel in hopes of finding the missing girl. Later that night, Sam learns that Miles has been shot. He calls Wonderly and learns that she has checked out of her hotel. Then Thursby is found with four bullet holes in his back and Sam is visited by Lt. Dundy and Detective Tom Polhaus, two policemen, who suspect him of murdering Thursby out of revenge for Miles's death. The following morning, Wonderly summons Sam to her new address, where she confesses that her real name is Brigid O'Shaughnessy and that the story she related the day before was completely false. Despite his doubts that she has told him the whole truth, Sam accepts her as his client. The announcement of Thursby's death draws an inquiry from a mysterious little man named Joel Cairo, who tells Sam that he is trying to recover a statue of a black falcon. When Sam denies any knowledge of the statue, Cairo pulls a gun and demands to search the office. Sam disarms Cairo, who offers the detective $5,000 to find the bird. Sam accepts the offer, and Cairo once again holds Sam at gunpoint while he searches the office.

When Brigid learns of Cairo's visit, she asks Sam to set up a meeting with him and tells Cairo that she doesn't have the statue, but will in a few days. Their meeting is interrupted by the police, who have been sent by Miles's widow Iva, who is jealous because she and Sam had been having an affair. The police now begin to suspect Sam of Miles's murder, but he spins a complicated story to stop the police from arresting the three of them for questioning. Kasper Gutman, known as "The Fat Man," is also interested in the statue and summons Sam, but when Gutman refuses to explain his interests, Sam storms out. Later, Wilmer Cook, Gutman's gunman, brings Sam back to Gutman's apartment. Gutman tells Sam that after the Crusades, Charles V of Spain presented the Knights Templar with the island of Malta, requiring only the tribute of a falcon every year. The statue everyone wants is a golden, jewel-encrusted replica of a falcon that was stolen by pirates and afterward disappeared for centuries. After it reappeared in Greece, Gutman planned to buy it, but it was again stolen and he has been following its trail ever since. He offers Sam $50,000 to find it, but before Sam can accept, he passes out from doctored drinks.

When he comes to, he searches the room and finds a paper announcing the arrival of a ship from Hong Kong, but at the docks, Sam finds the ship on fire. He returns to his office, where a dying man stumbles in with a package. The man is Jacoby, the captain of the Hong Kong ship, and the package contains the statue. A phone call from Brigid takes Sam on a wild goose chase, but first he checks the package and mails the claim check to himself. When Sam finally returns home, Brigid, Gutman, Cairo and Wilmer are waiting. Sam agrees to turn over the bird if Gutman will allow Wilmer to take the blame for the three murders. When Effie arrives with the package, however, it is quickly discovered that the bird is a fake. In the confusion, Wilmer escapes. After Gutman and Cairo leave, Sam calls the police and turns them all in. Brigid admits that she shot Miles, hoping to implicate Thursby. Even though he is fascinated by her dangerous beauty, Sam turns Brigid in for the murder of his partner.

Photo Collections

Maltese Falcon - Poster Art
Poster art used for the publicity of The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon - Makeup Still
Here is a still of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon (1941), taken as a makeup test. Note the misspelling of first-time director John Huston's name on the slate.
Maltese Falcon - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity photos created by Warner Brothers to promote The Maltese Falcon (1941). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Maltese Falcon - Scene Stills
Here is a group of film stills from The Maltese Falcon (1941), starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet.
The Maltese Falcon - Set Stills
These are Warner Bros. test photos used to document the sets for WB's 1941 production of The Maltese Falcon. Notice the clapboard placed in the photo for reference.

Videos

Movie Clip

Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - I Like To Talk Detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) visits the San Francisco hotel suite of "the fat man" Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet), who refuses to explain his interest in the black bird, in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, 1941.
Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - Such A Considerable Expense Detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) in his first meeting with perfumed and mysterious Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), inquiring about a bird, in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, 1941, from the Dashiell Hammett novel.
Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - A Guy Named Thursby Summoned from his bed at 2 a.m., San Francisco private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), with thus far friendly copper Polhaus (Ward Bond), at the scene of the murder of his partner Archer, written and directed by John Huston from the Dashiell Hammett novel, in The Maltese Falcon, 1941.
Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - Spade And Archer San Francisco detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) receives "Miss" O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), soon joined by partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan), early in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, 1941, from the Dashiell Hammett novel.
Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - Keep Her Away From Me Spade (Humphrey Bogart) snaps at Effie (Lee Patrick) for letting his partner's widow Iva (Gladys George), with whom he has complex relations, into the office, in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, 1941.
Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - You'll Take It And Like It! Sneaky Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) gets rough treatment from Brigid (Mary Astor) and Spade (Humphrey Bogart) before cops Dundy and Polhaus (Barton MacLane, Ward Bond) break things up in The Maltese Falcon, 1941.
Maltese Falcon, The (1941) - Do They Know About Me? Seminal work, from author Dashiel Hammett through writer-director John Huston, with Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade and Mary Astor as (it turns out...) Brigid, deepening and darkening their characters following the murder of his partner, early in The Maltese Falcon, 1941.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Also Known As
The Gent from Frisco, The Knight of Malta
Genre
Crime
Thriller
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 18, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (New York, 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,039ft

Award Nominations

Best Picture

1941

Best Supporting Actor

1941
Sydney Greenstreet

Best Writing, Screenplay

1942
John Huston

Articles

The Maltese Falcon: The Essentials


SYNOPSIS

After his partner is murdered while trailing a suspect named Thursby, detective Sam Spade vows to avenge his friend. He soon discovers that Thursby had also threatened a Miss Wonderly, an alias for Brigid O'Shaughnessy. As Spade digs deeper into the mystery, he learns that Ms. O'Shaughnessy is in cahoots with some sinister characters, all of them desperate to retrieve a priceless figurine containing rare gems. Using his wits, Spade expertly turns the conspirators against each other, eventually learning the true killer of his partner.

Director: John Huston
Producer: Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke
Screenplay: John Huston, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
Cinematography: Arthur Edeson
Editing: Thomas Richards
Art Direction: Robert Haas
Music: Adolph Deutsch
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade), Mary Astor (Brigid O'Shaughnessy), Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo), Sydney Greenstreet (Kasper Gutman), Barton MacLane (Detective Lieutenant Dundy), Ward Bond (Detective Tom Polhaus), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Wilmer Cook).
BW-101m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why THE MALTESE FALCON is Essential

Today, many film scholars refer to The Maltese Falcon as the first official film noir. To Huston's credit, he did not change one line of dialogue, and he only dropped one short scene when he realized he could substitute a phone call instead. Bogart's role in this film elevated him to cult status, and Ingrid Bergman studied him as Sam Spade to judge how to interact with him in Casablanca one year later.

During production on The Maltese Falcon, the cast and crew had the feeling they were shooting something exciting and tried to deter any unwanted visitors from coming to the set. The publicity people once brought a group of priests to the set. Before shooting began, Astor looked down at her legs and said, "Hold it a minute, I've got a g**damn run in my stocking" while the publicity man quickly ushered the priests off the set. Despite the numerous practical jokes his cast and crew played, however, Huston proved himself to be the consummate professional and was so efficient at his job that the crew often finished shooting for the day early, well ahead of schedule. On one of these days, Huston had set aside an entire day to shoot one elaborate moving camera sequence. The sequence lasted about seven minutes, and they nailed it perfectly in one take; the rest of the day was spent at the golf club. It was because of days like this that production finished two days ahead of schedule and $54,000 under budget.

The cast couldn't have been better. Mary Astor was an inspired Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Peter Lorre turned in an excellent performance, as usual, as Joel Cairo. Sydney Greenstreet earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his first ever film role, as Kasper Gutman. The other Academy Award nominations included Best Picture and Best Screenplay. To this day, it is considered one of the quintessential detective thrillers and has attracted a loyal cult following.

For Humphrey Bogart, the experience of The Maltese Falcon was the tops. He later said, "It was practically a masterpiece. I don't have many things I'm proud of but that's one." Bogart so respected Huston and the Sam Spade character that he searched until the end of his life for a script that recaptured the excitement he found in The Maltese Falcon. A few years before his death, Bogart revealed that he had purchased a book to be adapted into a film for he and his wife, Lauren Bacall. "We might do it," he told a radio interviewer, "in association with John Huston...It's a little on the order of The Maltese Falcon."

Warner Bros. had the bright idea of casting contract player George Raft in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, and he was scheduled to report to the set only four days before shooting began. Raft, a veteran of 1930s gangster and tough guy pictures, just like Humphrey Bogart, had other ideas though. He did not think The Maltese Falcon was a very important picture, and as he reminded Jack Warner in a June 6, 1941 memo, his contract gave him veto power over films that he thought were not worthy of his name. Raft also chaffed at the idea of working with a novice director. That's how Humphrey Bogart got the role. He had just scored a hit in High Sierra (1941), another picture Raft turned down. In fact, Raft continued to advance Bogart's career through his own inability to recognize potential hits: the actor reportedly turned down the lead in Casablanca (1942) as well.

With Raft out of the picture, Warner Bros. briefly flirted with the idea of Edward G. Robinson in the role, but cooler heads prevailed and Humphrey Bogart was taken off suspension for refusing to appear in Bad Men of Missouri (1941) and given the lead. When John Huston was informed of who was to be his leading man, "I thanked God. It was a blessing!" It was also divine providence that the studio allowed Huston a good deal of leeway in the casting, particularly in the case of Sydney Greenstreet. The sixty-one year old actor made his film debut in The Maltese Falcon, all 285 pounds of him, after a long career as a stage actor. Huston had discovered Greenstreet in a Los Angeles play called There Shall Be No Night, co-starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

Ironically, Sydney Greenstreet was a nervous wreck when it came time for his very first scene. Despite his years of stage experience in front of a live audience, Greenstreet implored Mary Astor before a scene, "Mary dear, hold my hand, tell me I won't make an ass of meself!" As Greenstreet performed his first scene flawlessly, John Huston held his breath, a nervous tic that stayed with him throughout his career as a director.

Warner Bros. executives initially wanted to offer the Brigid O'Shaughnessy part to contract player Geraldine Fitzgerald until freelance actress Mary Astor read the script. Fitzgerald cost a great deal less than Astor, and she was also eight years younger than Astor, whose career at the studio dated back to the silent days when she was a teenage leading lady opposite such heartthrobs as John Barrymore. The only problem was that Fitzgerald had no interest in starring in a low-budget whodunit with a novice director and a B-movie leading man, Humphrey Bogart. Having reportedly hailed the script as "a humdinger," Astor did not have to be talked into taking the role. She found Brigid O'Shaughnessy to be a ripe and juicy role. As she wrote in her memoir, A Life on Film, Brigid "was attractive, charming, appealingly feminine and helpless, and a complete liar and murderess." The girl next door, Brigid O'Shaughnessy was not.

Between shooting films in Hollywood, Elisha Cook, Jr. lived alone up in the High Sierra hills, where he spent his days fishing for golden trout. When his services were requested for a new film, producers would send word up to his mountain cabin via courier. He would come down for the shoot, then retreat as soon as production wrapped. Interestingly enough, Cook had last shared billing with Humphrey Bogart on Broadway in the play Chrysalis.

by Scott McGee & Sarah Heiman
The Maltese Falcon: The Essentials

The Maltese Falcon: The Essentials

SYNOPSIS After his partner is murdered while trailing a suspect named Thursby, detective Sam Spade vows to avenge his friend. He soon discovers that Thursby had also threatened a Miss Wonderly, an alias for Brigid O'Shaughnessy. As Spade digs deeper into the mystery, he learns that Ms. O'Shaughnessy is in cahoots with some sinister characters, all of them desperate to retrieve a priceless figurine containing rare gems. Using his wits, Spade expertly turns the conspirators against each other, eventually learning the true killer of his partner. Director: John Huston Producer: Hal B. Wallis, Henry Blanke Screenplay: John Huston, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett Cinematography: Arthur Edeson Editing: Thomas Richards Art Direction: Robert Haas Music: Adolph Deutsch Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade), Mary Astor (Brigid O'Shaughnessy), Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo), Sydney Greenstreet (Kasper Gutman), Barton MacLane (Detective Lieutenant Dundy), Ward Bond (Detective Tom Polhaus), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Wilmer Cook). BW-101m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. Why THE MALTESE FALCON is Essential Today, many film scholars refer to The Maltese Falcon as the first official film noir. To Huston's credit, he did not change one line of dialogue, and he only dropped one short scene when he realized he could substitute a phone call instead. Bogart's role in this film elevated him to cult status, and Ingrid Bergman studied him as Sam Spade to judge how to interact with him in Casablanca one year later. During production on The Maltese Falcon, the cast and crew had the feeling they were shooting something exciting and tried to deter any unwanted visitors from coming to the set. The publicity people once brought a group of priests to the set. Before shooting began, Astor looked down at her legs and said, "Hold it a minute, I've got a g**damn run in my stocking" while the publicity man quickly ushered the priests off the set. Despite the numerous practical jokes his cast and crew played, however, Huston proved himself to be the consummate professional and was so efficient at his job that the crew often finished shooting for the day early, well ahead of schedule. On one of these days, Huston had set aside an entire day to shoot one elaborate moving camera sequence. The sequence lasted about seven minutes, and they nailed it perfectly in one take; the rest of the day was spent at the golf club. It was because of days like this that production finished two days ahead of schedule and $54,000 under budget. The cast couldn't have been better. Mary Astor was an inspired Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Peter Lorre turned in an excellent performance, as usual, as Joel Cairo. Sydney Greenstreet earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his first ever film role, as Kasper Gutman. The other Academy Award nominations included Best Picture and Best Screenplay. To this day, it is considered one of the quintessential detective thrillers and has attracted a loyal cult following. For Humphrey Bogart, the experience of The Maltese Falcon was the tops. He later said, "It was practically a masterpiece. I don't have many things I'm proud of but that's one." Bogart so respected Huston and the Sam Spade character that he searched until the end of his life for a script that recaptured the excitement he found in The Maltese Falcon. A few years before his death, Bogart revealed that he had purchased a book to be adapted into a film for he and his wife, Lauren Bacall. "We might do it," he told a radio interviewer, "in association with John Huston...It's a little on the order of The Maltese Falcon." Warner Bros. had the bright idea of casting contract player George Raft in John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, and he was scheduled to report to the set only four days before shooting began. Raft, a veteran of 1930s gangster and tough guy pictures, just like Humphrey Bogart, had other ideas though. He did not think The Maltese Falcon was a very important picture, and as he reminded Jack Warner in a June 6, 1941 memo, his contract gave him veto power over films that he thought were not worthy of his name. Raft also chaffed at the idea of working with a novice director. That's how Humphrey Bogart got the role. He had just scored a hit in High Sierra (1941), another picture Raft turned down. In fact, Raft continued to advance Bogart's career through his own inability to recognize potential hits: the actor reportedly turned down the lead in Casablanca (1942) as well. With Raft out of the picture, Warner Bros. briefly flirted with the idea of Edward G. Robinson in the role, but cooler heads prevailed and Humphrey Bogart was taken off suspension for refusing to appear in Bad Men of Missouri (1941) and given the lead. When John Huston was informed of who was to be his leading man, "I thanked God. It was a blessing!" It was also divine providence that the studio allowed Huston a good deal of leeway in the casting, particularly in the case of Sydney Greenstreet. The sixty-one year old actor made his film debut in The Maltese Falcon, all 285 pounds of him, after a long career as a stage actor. Huston had discovered Greenstreet in a Los Angeles play called There Shall Be No Night, co-starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Ironically, Sydney Greenstreet was a nervous wreck when it came time for his very first scene. Despite his years of stage experience in front of a live audience, Greenstreet implored Mary Astor before a scene, "Mary dear, hold my hand, tell me I won't make an ass of meself!" As Greenstreet performed his first scene flawlessly, John Huston held his breath, a nervous tic that stayed with him throughout his career as a director. Warner Bros. executives initially wanted to offer the Brigid O'Shaughnessy part to contract player Geraldine Fitzgerald until freelance actress Mary Astor read the script. Fitzgerald cost a great deal less than Astor, and she was also eight years younger than Astor, whose career at the studio dated back to the silent days when she was a teenage leading lady opposite such heartthrobs as John Barrymore. The only problem was that Fitzgerald had no interest in starring in a low-budget whodunit with a novice director and a B-movie leading man, Humphrey Bogart. Having reportedly hailed the script as "a humdinger," Astor did not have to be talked into taking the role. She found Brigid O'Shaughnessy to be a ripe and juicy role. As she wrote in her memoir, A Life on Film, Brigid "was attractive, charming, appealingly feminine and helpless, and a complete liar and murderess." The girl next door, Brigid O'Shaughnessy was not. Between shooting films in Hollywood, Elisha Cook, Jr. lived alone up in the High Sierra hills, where he spent his days fishing for golden trout. When his services were requested for a new film, producers would send word up to his mountain cabin via courier. He would come down for the shoot, then retreat as soon as production wrapped. Interestingly enough, Cook had last shared billing with Humphrey Bogart on Broadway in the play Chrysalis. by Scott McGee & Sarah Heiman

Behind the Camera - The Maltese Falcon


Even though the Warner Bros. executives were happy with John Huston's draft of the screenplay, they put restrictions on the first-time director's production by allotting him only six weeks to shoot the film with a $300,000 budget. If Huston happened to go over budget, Warner Bros. warned him that he would be looking for a job elsewhere. But Huston left nothing to chance. He tailored the screenplay to include shot-by-shot instructions for him and his crew, detailing the set-up of each and every scene. The final screenplay was so finely laid out that one could read the script and perfectly visualize the finished film. This method was used by Huston only for The Maltese Falcon. Other directors, like Alfred Hitchcock and later Steven Spielberg, would employ this method more frequently throughout their career.

Aside from sticking close to the novel and providing visual and written instructions for each scene breakdown, John Huston also defied conventional Hollywood production procedure by shooting much of The Maltese Falcon in sequence, with the exception of a few exterior shots. This method helped not only the novice director, but also gave the actors a continuity that strengthened their performances amid the densely plotted mystery. John Huston instructed Mary Astor to run around the set several times before appearing in a scene so as to give her character a nervous, out-of-breath appeal. In fact, the director worked very closely with Astor on her characterization of the amoral Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Very closely. Except for Huston's closest friends (like Hollywood director William Wyler), no one knew that Huston and Astor were having a romantic affair during filming. And speaking of William Wyler, Huston showed many of his production sketches to Wyler, who made some important suggestions that Huston eventually incorporated. But it was producer Henry Blanke who gave John Huston what he recalled as the single greatest piece of advice he would ever receive as a director: "Shoot each scene as if it was the most important scene in the film."

A few of the principal actors became close friends during the shooting of The Maltese Falcon. Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Ward Bond, and Mary Astor would often join John Huston at the Lakeside Country Club for drinks, buffet supper, and good conversation, usually until midnight. Bogart always considered Lorre and Huston great pals, mostly because they met two principal criteria: they weren't boring and they could drink like fish.

John Huston's father, veteran character actor Walter Huston, wanted to appear in his son's directorial debut picture for good luck. But what was intended as a sentimental gesture soon turned into a hilarious practical joke. Walter's walk-on part, as the wounded ship captain who staggers into Spade's office holding the bundled-up Maltese Falcon, was such an easy scene to shoot, that it should have required only two or three takes to successfully complete. And given John Huston's tight production schedule and budget, multiple retakes for frivolous scenes were not encouraged or even possible. Nevertheless, John Huston shot the scene over and over again, holding back his laughter when the elder Huston complained, "Didn't expect to have to put in a day's work!" John Huston came up with myriad reasons why his father would have to re-do the scene: he missed his mark, he staggered too much, he overacted, technical difficulties, and so on. By the time the scene was printed, Walter Huston left the set in a foul mood and covered in bruises sustained from falling down dead so much. However, his son wasn't finished with him just yet. The next day, the director had Mary Astor, whom the elder Huston had co-starred with in Dodsworth (1936), call his father. Pretending to be John Huston's secretary, the director had Mary say, "Mr. Huston is sorry, but something happened to the film in the lab and we'll have to retake your sequence this afternoon. Could you be ready to shoot at one o'clock?" Walter Huston vehemently replied, "You tell my son to get another actor or go to hell! He made me take twenty falls, and I'm sore all over, and I'm not about to take twenty more." John made it up to his father several years later, after directing him in an Academy Award-winning performance in Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).

Huston and company tickled themselves with a number of other on-set jokes. As Mary Astor recounted in her autobiography, the cast and crew had a system, whereby Huston would signal for a certain practical joke to be played for visitors to the set. For the benefit of visiting star-struck social clubwomen, the "No. 5" had Bogart going into a prepared act with Sydney Greenstreet. He'd start yelling and cursing at him, calling him a fat old fool. "Who the hell do you think you are? You upstaged me, and I'm telling you I'm not having any--," at which point Huston would jump into the act, holding back Bogart's mock rage. Very quickly, the embarrassed and disillusioned ladies would shuffle towards the nearest exit. Meanwhile, the "No. 10" had Peter Lorre coming out of Mary Astor's dressing room at the appropriate moment, adjusting his fly and saying, "See you later Mary."

by Scott McGee

Behind the Camera - The Maltese Falcon

Even though the Warner Bros. executives were happy with John Huston's draft of the screenplay, they put restrictions on the first-time director's production by allotting him only six weeks to shoot the film with a $300,000 budget. If Huston happened to go over budget, Warner Bros. warned him that he would be looking for a job elsewhere. But Huston left nothing to chance. He tailored the screenplay to include shot-by-shot instructions for him and his crew, detailing the set-up of each and every scene. The final screenplay was so finely laid out that one could read the script and perfectly visualize the finished film. This method was used by Huston only for The Maltese Falcon. Other directors, like Alfred Hitchcock and later Steven Spielberg, would employ this method more frequently throughout their career. Aside from sticking close to the novel and providing visual and written instructions for each scene breakdown, John Huston also defied conventional Hollywood production procedure by shooting much of The Maltese Falcon in sequence, with the exception of a few exterior shots. This method helped not only the novice director, but also gave the actors a continuity that strengthened their performances amid the densely plotted mystery. John Huston instructed Mary Astor to run around the set several times before appearing in a scene so as to give her character a nervous, out-of-breath appeal. In fact, the director worked very closely with Astor on her characterization of the amoral Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Very closely. Except for Huston's closest friends (like Hollywood director William Wyler), no one knew that Huston and Astor were having a romantic affair during filming. And speaking of William Wyler, Huston showed many of his production sketches to Wyler, who made some important suggestions that Huston eventually incorporated. But it was producer Henry Blanke who gave John Huston what he recalled as the single greatest piece of advice he would ever receive as a director: "Shoot each scene as if it was the most important scene in the film." A few of the principal actors became close friends during the shooting of The Maltese Falcon. Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Ward Bond, and Mary Astor would often join John Huston at the Lakeside Country Club for drinks, buffet supper, and good conversation, usually until midnight. Bogart always considered Lorre and Huston great pals, mostly because they met two principal criteria: they weren't boring and they could drink like fish. John Huston's father, veteran character actor Walter Huston, wanted to appear in his son's directorial debut picture for good luck. But what was intended as a sentimental gesture soon turned into a hilarious practical joke. Walter's walk-on part, as the wounded ship captain who staggers into Spade's office holding the bundled-up Maltese Falcon, was such an easy scene to shoot, that it should have required only two or three takes to successfully complete. And given John Huston's tight production schedule and budget, multiple retakes for frivolous scenes were not encouraged or even possible. Nevertheless, John Huston shot the scene over and over again, holding back his laughter when the elder Huston complained, "Didn't expect to have to put in a day's work!" John Huston came up with myriad reasons why his father would have to re-do the scene: he missed his mark, he staggered too much, he overacted, technical difficulties, and so on. By the time the scene was printed, Walter Huston left the set in a foul mood and covered in bruises sustained from falling down dead so much. However, his son wasn't finished with him just yet. The next day, the director had Mary Astor, whom the elder Huston had co-starred with in Dodsworth (1936), call his father. Pretending to be John Huston's secretary, the director had Mary say, "Mr. Huston is sorry, but something happened to the film in the lab and we'll have to retake your sequence this afternoon. Could you be ready to shoot at one o'clock?" Walter Huston vehemently replied, "You tell my son to get another actor or go to hell! He made me take twenty falls, and I'm sore all over, and I'm not about to take twenty more." John made it up to his father several years later, after directing him in an Academy Award-winning performance in Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Huston and company tickled themselves with a number of other on-set jokes. As Mary Astor recounted in her autobiography, the cast and crew had a system, whereby Huston would signal for a certain practical joke to be played for visitors to the set. For the benefit of visiting star-struck social clubwomen, the "No. 5" had Bogart going into a prepared act with Sydney Greenstreet. He'd start yelling and cursing at him, calling him a fat old fool. "Who the hell do you think you are? You upstaged me, and I'm telling you I'm not having any--," at which point Huston would jump into the act, holding back Bogart's mock rage. Very quickly, the embarrassed and disillusioned ladies would shuffle towards the nearest exit. Meanwhile, the "No. 10" had Peter Lorre coming out of Mary Astor's dressing room at the appropriate moment, adjusting his fly and saying, "See you later Mary." by Scott McGee

The Maltese Falcon (1941) - The Maltese Falcon


Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon had already been made into a movie twice before its most well known version was created in 1941 and became an American cinema classic. The Maltese Falcon (1941) was John Huston's directorial debut, and it made quite an impression on audiences and critics alike. George Raft, a Warner Bros. contract player, was the studio's first choice to play detective Sam Spade, but he turned down the opportunity because he felt that it was not an important picture. Humphrey Bogart, who had been on suspension for refusing to appear in Bad Men of Missouri (1941), was drafted into the role instead. Geraldine Fitzgerald was first choice to play Brigid, the role that ended up being immortalized by Mary Astor.

John Huston cast his father, Walter, in an uncredited cameo as the man who staggers into Spade's office with the infamous statue, then dies. John had some fun making his father do the scene over and over again, and that same night Mary Astor called Walter pretending to be John's secretary. She said that John would need him to re-shoot his scene because something had happened to the film in the lab. Walter screamed, "You tell my son to get another actor or go to hell!" as Mary held out the receiver for everyone to hear. Jokes such as this were commonplace on the set. The cast and crew had the feeling they were shooting something exciting and tried to deter any unwanted visitors from coming to the set. The publicity people once brought a group of priests to the set. Before shooting began, Astor looked down at her legs and said, "Hold it a minute, I've got a g**damn run in my stocking" while the publicity man quickly ushered the priests off the set. From that moment on, jokes like that became a way for the cast and crew to amuse themselves and keep unwanted people off the set at the same time.

The people involved in The Maltese Falcon were so efficient that they often finished shooting for the day early and went to lunch at the nearby Lakeside Golf Club. On one of these days, Huston (who made detailed plans and sketches for each shot, much like Hitchcock later did) had set aside an entire day to shoot one elaborate moving camera sequence. The sequence lasted about seven minutes, and they nailed it perfectly in one take; the rest of the day was spent at the golf club. It was because of days like this that production finished two days ahead of schedule and $54,000 under budget.

Today, many film scholars refer to The Maltese Falcon as the first official film noir. To Huston's credit, he did not change one line of dialogue, and he only dropped one short scene when he realized he could substitute a phone call instead. Bogart's role in this film elevated him to cult status, and Ingrid Bergman studied him as Sam Spade to judge how to interact with him in Casablanca two years later. Mary Astor would hyperventilate before shooting for her scenes began in order to achieve that breathless quality she retained throughout the film, the look of a liar. Peter Lorre, as usual, turned in an excellent performance as Joel Cairo. And Sydney Greenstreet earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his first ever film role, as Casper Gutman. Greenstreet was extremely nervous just before shooting his first scene. "Mary dear, hold my hand, tell me I won't make an ass of meself!" he begged Astor before he began his long monologue telling the history of the statue. Obviously, his fears were unfounded and the entire cast was perfection; critical acclaim and Oscar nominations followed - Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Greenstreet's nomination solidified the opinion that the film was indeed a great one. To this day, it is considered one of the quintessential detective thrillers and has attracted a loyal cult following.

Director: John Huston
Producer: Hal B. Wallis
Screenplay: John Huston, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
Cinematography: Arthur Edeson
Editing: Thomas Richards
Art Direction: Robert Haas
Music: Adolph Deutsch
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade), Mary Astor (Brigid O'Shaughnessy), Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo), Sydney Greenstreet (Casper Gutman), Barton MacLane (Detective Lieutenant Dundy)
BW-101m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Sarah Heiman

The Maltese Falcon (1941) - The Maltese Falcon

Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon had already been made into a movie twice before its most well known version was created in 1941 and became an American cinema classic. The Maltese Falcon (1941) was John Huston's directorial debut, and it made quite an impression on audiences and critics alike. George Raft, a Warner Bros. contract player, was the studio's first choice to play detective Sam Spade, but he turned down the opportunity because he felt that it was not an important picture. Humphrey Bogart, who had been on suspension for refusing to appear in Bad Men of Missouri (1941), was drafted into the role instead. Geraldine Fitzgerald was first choice to play Brigid, the role that ended up being immortalized by Mary Astor. John Huston cast his father, Walter, in an uncredited cameo as the man who staggers into Spade's office with the infamous statue, then dies. John had some fun making his father do the scene over and over again, and that same night Mary Astor called Walter pretending to be John's secretary. She said that John would need him to re-shoot his scene because something had happened to the film in the lab. Walter screamed, "You tell my son to get another actor or go to hell!" as Mary held out the receiver for everyone to hear. Jokes such as this were commonplace on the set. The cast and crew had the feeling they were shooting something exciting and tried to deter any unwanted visitors from coming to the set. The publicity people once brought a group of priests to the set. Before shooting began, Astor looked down at her legs and said, "Hold it a minute, I've got a g**damn run in my stocking" while the publicity man quickly ushered the priests off the set. From that moment on, jokes like that became a way for the cast and crew to amuse themselves and keep unwanted people off the set at the same time. The people involved in The Maltese Falcon were so efficient that they often finished shooting for the day early and went to lunch at the nearby Lakeside Golf Club. On one of these days, Huston (who made detailed plans and sketches for each shot, much like Hitchcock later did) had set aside an entire day to shoot one elaborate moving camera sequence. The sequence lasted about seven minutes, and they nailed it perfectly in one take; the rest of the day was spent at the golf club. It was because of days like this that production finished two days ahead of schedule and $54,000 under budget.Today, many film scholars refer to The Maltese Falcon as the first official film noir. To Huston's credit, he did not change one line of dialogue, and he only dropped one short scene when he realized he could substitute a phone call instead. Bogart's role in this film elevated him to cult status, and Ingrid Bergman studied him as Sam Spade to judge how to interact with him in Casablanca two years later. Mary Astor would hyperventilate before shooting for her scenes began in order to achieve that breathless quality she retained throughout the film, the look of a liar. Peter Lorre, as usual, turned in an excellent performance as Joel Cairo. And Sydney Greenstreet earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his first ever film role, as Casper Gutman. Greenstreet was extremely nervous just before shooting his first scene. "Mary dear, hold my hand, tell me I won't make an ass of meself!" he begged Astor before he began his long monologue telling the history of the statue. Obviously, his fears were unfounded and the entire cast was perfection; critical acclaim and Oscar nominations followed - Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Greenstreet's nomination solidified the opinion that the film was indeed a great one. To this day, it is considered one of the quintessential detective thrillers and has attracted a loyal cult following. Director: John Huston Producer: Hal B. Wallis Screenplay: John Huston, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett Cinematography: Arthur Edeson Editing: Thomas Richards Art Direction: Robert Haas Music: Adolph Deutsch Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade), Mary Astor (Brigid O'Shaughnessy), Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo), Sydney Greenstreet (Casper Gutman), Barton MacLane (Detective Lieutenant Dundy) BW-101m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Sarah Heiman

The Maltese Falcon (3 disc special edition) - The 3-Disc Special DVD Edition of THE MALTESE FALCON


It's been regarded as the definitive American detective movie, the harbinger of the film noir movement, and the most significant Hollywood directing debut short of Citizen Kane. Writer/director John Huston's screen adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (1941) has held endless fascination for generations of movie fans, and has cried out for a worthy treatment for home viewing since the birth of the DVD market. Warner Home Video finally rose to the occasion with their recent release of The Maltese Falcon: Special Edition, a three-disc set that even the most demanding fan will find, once unwrapped, to deliver the goods.

The scenario's familiar ground to even the most casual of cinema buffs, so we'll keep the recap brief. San Francisco private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) receives what appears to be a routine job of providing bodyguard services to an attractive brunette (Mary Astor) answering to "Miss Wonderley." She's ostensibly come to the Bay Area to free her sister from the influence of a disreputable type named Floyd Thursby. Spade's partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) happily takes charge of the elegant new client; he isn't on the job long before he's gunned down by an unseen assailant.

The local cops find Thursby dead soon afterward; Spade's situation is made even that much more tenuous by the fact that he had been carrying on a clandestine affair with Miles' pathetically clinging wife Iva (Gladys George). "Miss Wonderley" resurfaces, revealing her real name as Brigid O'Shaughnessey and begging for Spade's continued protection. Remaining in her orbit, while trying to find those responsible for the Archer and Thursby murders, brings Spade into contact with a most colorful cabal of criminals. In encountering the obese, overweening smuggling impresario Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet; the perfumed and peculiar Dr. Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre); and Gutman's questionable hired muscle, a short-fused punk named Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook, Jr.), Spade uncovers their common goal. All have been embroiled in a global hunt to recover a legendary, centuries-old falcon statuette, enameled to conceal the solid gold and inlaid jewels beneath.

These proceedings were brilliantly laid out by Huston, whose screenplay was faithful to both letter and spirit of Hammett's text, and who immediately showed an assured hand and striking visual sense behind the camera, masterfully utilizing lighting and cameras angles to create Spade's foreboding world. For Bogart, this was the role that ensured he was through playing second gunsel to Cagney or Robinson. Hardly innocent, not always admirable, but hewing to his own moral code in an immoral world, Sam Spade represents the crystallization of the Bogey screen persona, and The Maltese Falcon the crucible of his legend. The supporting performances were equally remarkable. Astor had never been better, creating a vulnerable posture that masked depths of duplicity. The 61-year-old Greenstreet made an indelible impression in his screen debut, and Lorre, whose biggest success with American audiences to this point came in Fox's Mr. Moto Bs, carved his niche as well. Mention has to be given to Lee Patrick as the eternally patient secretary Effie, and Ward Bond and Barton MacLane as the local plainclothesmen Spade's trying to keep at a distance.

For this latest DVD incarnation, Warner Home Video made a new digital transfer, and the product is visually crisp and unblemished. Eric Lax, co-author of the biography Bogart, offers thoughtful and detailed insights in his feature-length commentary, showing an encyclopedic handle on more than just the central figure of the production. The Greenstreet-centered original theatrical trailer is also offered. In rounding out the extras on the set's first disc, WHV has presented them in their "Night at the Movies" format, giving the viewe the option of playing the content in an uninterrupted stream to replicate an evening in the theater circa 1941. This array includes the trailer for Sergeant York; a minute-and-a-half of newsreel footage documenting an FDR/Churchill rendezvous; Jean Negulesco's Oscar-nominated color short The Gay Parisian; and two WB animated offerings, Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt and Meet John Doughboy.

The third time, they say, is the charm, and the iconic status enjoyed by Huston's creation tends to obscure the fact that it was actually Warner Brothers' third attempt over a ten-year span to bring Hammett's story to film. It's those first two shots that fill the second disc of the set. The 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon, which for obvious reasons has often appeared under the alternate title of Dangerous Female, offers a fairly straightforward take on Hammett's prose, and actually displays a fair amount of pre-Production Code frankness in depicting Spade's bedhopping. As to Spade himself: Back in the '20s, Valentino's meteoric vogue made Hollywood so desperate for Latin leading men that they had to invent them, which is how an Austrian Jew named Jacob Krantz became Ricardo Cortez. (His kid brother Stanislaus followed suit, going on to a distinguished career as the cinematographer Stanley Cortez.) Here, the actor vested Hammett's detective with the same sort of smarmy self-satisfaction that marked the roues to which he had been commonly typed. Bebe Daniels, best known for 42nd Street and her string as Harold Lloyd's leading lady, makes a servicably conniving Brigid, and veteran character player Dudley Digges had one of his best screen moments as a wholly credible Gutman. The supporting cast is dotted with familiar faces, from the beautiful, doomed comedienne Thelma Todd as Iva Archer, to Dietrich catfight partner Una Merkel as Effie, to horror-flick icon Dwight Frye as Wilmer.

Perhaps mindful of the success MGM found with its charming take on Hammett's The Thin Man (1934), Warner opted to play the Falcon plot for laughs with its 1935 remake Satan Met a Lady. Little remained of the story beyond the basic framework; Warren William inhabited the role of shiftless private eye "Ted Shayne," and the top-billed Bette Davis was his dangerous new client. The missing object of desire became a jewel-filled horn that once belonged to the Gallic hero Roland, the Cairo part went to Arthur Treacher, ever-gentlemanly while performing vandalism, and the gender-switched Gutman role was assigned to all-purpose screen dowager Alison Skipworth. Satan Met a Lady has had something of a reputation as a train wreck, and not undeservedly. The narrative's attempts at fostering a giddy, lighthearted air consistently fall flat. The script was precisely the type of assignment that Davis was famous for chafing at during her tenure at Warner, and it reflects in her mailed-in effort. While the jacket copy promises the theatrical trailers for both proto-Falcons, only the Satan preview appears.

The third disc in the package contains the balance of the supplemental materials, and it's a rich selection for devotees of the film, Bogart, and Warner's output of the era. Leading off is the new documentary The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird, an effective half-hour presentation laden with background materials and observations from afficionados of the film ranging from Peter Bogdanovich to Henry Rollins to Frank Miller. If there's any quibble to be had with it, it seems that Huston, out of all the principals, got something of short shrift in terms of analyzing his contribution to the effort. Next included is a 1997 entry from TCM's Becoming Attractions series. In this 45-minute program, host Robert Osborne utilizes a baker's dozen of trailers spanning The Petrified Forest (1936) to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) to examine how the Warner publicity machine's handling of Bogart evolved.

Next is Warner's 13-minute house blooper reel from its 1940 output, Breakdowns of 1941. It offers a fun mix of Bogart, Davis, Cagney, Robinson, Stewart, Cooper, Garfield, O'Brien and many other stars and familiar character players caught blowing their lines, trashing props, and verbally expressing their frustrations in ways that wouldn't have gotten past the Hays Office. There's a little over a minute of silent makeup test footage with Astor, interesting as an archival tidbit and in watching her break character. Completing the disc are three full radio broadcast adaptations of the tale. One entry from 1946 reunited Bogart, Astor and Greenstreet; one from the fall of '43 added Lorre to that prior mix; and a 1942 presentation featured Eddie G. as Spade, Gail Patrick as Miss O'Shaughnessey and Laird Cregar as the Fat Man.

For more information about the 3-disc edition of The Maltese Falcon, visit Warner Video. To order The Maltese Falcon, go to TCM Shopping.



by Jay S. Steinberg

The Maltese Falcon (3 disc special edition) - The 3-Disc Special DVD Edition of THE MALTESE FALCON

It's been regarded as the definitive American detective movie, the harbinger of the film noir movement, and the most significant Hollywood directing debut short of Citizen Kane. Writer/director John Huston's screen adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (1941) has held endless fascination for generations of movie fans, and has cried out for a worthy treatment for home viewing since the birth of the DVD market. Warner Home Video finally rose to the occasion with their recent release of The Maltese Falcon: Special Edition, a three-disc set that even the most demanding fan will find, once unwrapped, to deliver the goods. The scenario's familiar ground to even the most casual of cinema buffs, so we'll keep the recap brief. San Francisco private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) receives what appears to be a routine job of providing bodyguard services to an attractive brunette (Mary Astor) answering to "Miss Wonderley." She's ostensibly come to the Bay Area to free her sister from the influence of a disreputable type named Floyd Thursby. Spade's partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) happily takes charge of the elegant new client; he isn't on the job long before he's gunned down by an unseen assailant. The local cops find Thursby dead soon afterward; Spade's situation is made even that much more tenuous by the fact that he had been carrying on a clandestine affair with Miles' pathetically clinging wife Iva (Gladys George). "Miss Wonderley" resurfaces, revealing her real name as Brigid O'Shaughnessey and begging for Spade's continued protection. Remaining in her orbit, while trying to find those responsible for the Archer and Thursby murders, brings Spade into contact with a most colorful cabal of criminals. In encountering the obese, overweening smuggling impresario Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet; the perfumed and peculiar Dr. Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre); and Gutman's questionable hired muscle, a short-fused punk named Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook, Jr.), Spade uncovers their common goal. All have been embroiled in a global hunt to recover a legendary, centuries-old falcon statuette, enameled to conceal the solid gold and inlaid jewels beneath. These proceedings were brilliantly laid out by Huston, whose screenplay was faithful to both letter and spirit of Hammett's text, and who immediately showed an assured hand and striking visual sense behind the camera, masterfully utilizing lighting and cameras angles to create Spade's foreboding world. For Bogart, this was the role that ensured he was through playing second gunsel to Cagney or Robinson. Hardly innocent, not always admirable, but hewing to his own moral code in an immoral world, Sam Spade represents the crystallization of the Bogey screen persona, and The Maltese Falcon the crucible of his legend. The supporting performances were equally remarkable. Astor had never been better, creating a vulnerable posture that masked depths of duplicity. The 61-year-old Greenstreet made an indelible impression in his screen debut, and Lorre, whose biggest success with American audiences to this point came in Fox's Mr. Moto Bs, carved his niche as well. Mention has to be given to Lee Patrick as the eternally patient secretary Effie, and Ward Bond and Barton MacLane as the local plainclothesmen Spade's trying to keep at a distance. For this latest DVD incarnation, Warner Home Video made a new digital transfer, and the product is visually crisp and unblemished. Eric Lax, co-author of the biography Bogart, offers thoughtful and detailed insights in his feature-length commentary, showing an encyclopedic handle on more than just the central figure of the production. The Greenstreet-centered original theatrical trailer is also offered. In rounding out the extras on the set's first disc, WHV has presented them in their "Night at the Movies" format, giving the viewe the option of playing the content in an uninterrupted stream to replicate an evening in the theater circa 1941. This array includes the trailer for Sergeant York; a minute-and-a-half of newsreel footage documenting an FDR/Churchill rendezvous; Jean Negulesco's Oscar-nominated color short The Gay Parisian; and two WB animated offerings, Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt and Meet John Doughboy. The third time, they say, is the charm, and the iconic status enjoyed by Huston's creation tends to obscure the fact that it was actually Warner Brothers' third attempt over a ten-year span to bring Hammett's story to film. It's those first two shots that fill the second disc of the set. The 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon, which for obvious reasons has often appeared under the alternate title of Dangerous Female, offers a fairly straightforward take on Hammett's prose, and actually displays a fair amount of pre-Production Code frankness in depicting Spade's bedhopping. As to Spade himself: Back in the '20s, Valentino's meteoric vogue made Hollywood so desperate for Latin leading men that they had to invent them, which is how an Austrian Jew named Jacob Krantz became Ricardo Cortez. (His kid brother Stanislaus followed suit, going on to a distinguished career as the cinematographer Stanley Cortez.) Here, the actor vested Hammett's detective with the same sort of smarmy self-satisfaction that marked the roues to which he had been commonly typed. Bebe Daniels, best known for 42nd Street and her string as Harold Lloyd's leading lady, makes a servicably conniving Brigid, and veteran character player Dudley Digges had one of his best screen moments as a wholly credible Gutman. The supporting cast is dotted with familiar faces, from the beautiful, doomed comedienne Thelma Todd as Iva Archer, to Dietrich catfight partner Una Merkel as Effie, to horror-flick icon Dwight Frye as Wilmer. Perhaps mindful of the success MGM found with its charming take on Hammett's The Thin Man (1934), Warner opted to play the Falcon plot for laughs with its 1935 remake Satan Met a Lady. Little remained of the story beyond the basic framework; Warren William inhabited the role of shiftless private eye "Ted Shayne," and the top-billed Bette Davis was his dangerous new client. The missing object of desire became a jewel-filled horn that once belonged to the Gallic hero Roland, the Cairo part went to Arthur Treacher, ever-gentlemanly while performing vandalism, and the gender-switched Gutman role was assigned to all-purpose screen dowager Alison Skipworth. Satan Met a Lady has had something of a reputation as a train wreck, and not undeservedly. The narrative's attempts at fostering a giddy, lighthearted air consistently fall flat. The script was precisely the type of assignment that Davis was famous for chafing at during her tenure at Warner, and it reflects in her mailed-in effort. While the jacket copy promises the theatrical trailers for both proto-Falcons, only the Satan preview appears. The third disc in the package contains the balance of the supplemental materials, and it's a rich selection for devotees of the film, Bogart, and Warner's output of the era. Leading off is the new documentary The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird, an effective half-hour presentation laden with background materials and observations from afficionados of the film ranging from Peter Bogdanovich to Henry Rollins to Frank Miller. If there's any quibble to be had with it, it seems that Huston, out of all the principals, got something of short shrift in terms of analyzing his contribution to the effort. Next included is a 1997 entry from TCM's Becoming Attractions series. In this 45-minute program, host Robert Osborne utilizes a baker's dozen of trailers spanning The Petrified Forest (1936) to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) to examine how the Warner publicity machine's handling of Bogart evolved. Next is Warner's 13-minute house blooper reel from its 1940 output, Breakdowns of 1941. It offers a fun mix of Bogart, Davis, Cagney, Robinson, Stewart, Cooper, Garfield, O'Brien and many other stars and familiar character players caught blowing their lines, trashing props, and verbally expressing their frustrations in ways that wouldn't have gotten past the Hays Office. There's a little over a minute of silent makeup test footage with Astor, interesting as an archival tidbit and in watching her break character. Completing the disc are three full radio broadcast adaptations of the tale. One entry from 1946 reunited Bogart, Astor and Greenstreet; one from the fall of '43 added Lorre to that prior mix; and a 1942 presentation featured Eddie G. as Spade, Gail Patrick as Miss O'Shaughnessey and Laird Cregar as the Fat Man. For more information about the 3-disc edition of The Maltese Falcon, visit Warner Video. To order The Maltese Falcon, go to TCM Shopping. by Jay S. Steinberg

Quotes

I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble.
- Sam Spade
Look what you did to my shirt.
- Joel Cairo
I haven't lived a good life. I've been bad, worse than you could know.
- Brigid O'Shaughnessy
You know, that's good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we'd never get anywhere.
- Sam Spade
Keep on riding me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
- Wilmer Cook
The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter, eh?
- Sam Spade
Ten thousand? We were talking about a lot more money than this.
- Sam Spade
Yes, sir, we were, but this is genuine coin of the realm. With a dollar of this, you can buy ten dollars of talk.
- Kasper Gutman

Trivia

George Raft was originally cast as Sam Spade. He turned it down because it was "not an important picture," taking advantage of a clause in his contract that said he did not have to work on remakes.

Word-for-word and scene-for-scene virtually the same as the original novel.

The Shakespeare reference that ends the film was suggested by Humphrey Bogart.

Captain Jacobi

Notes

The film opens with the following written statement: "In 1539, the Knights Templar of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain by sending him a golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels-but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day-"
       The film's working titles were The Gent from Frisco and The Knight of Malta. According to information in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, the studio wanted to cast George Raft as "Sam Spade," but in a letter to Jack Warner, Raft stated that he considered the film not to be important and reminded Warner that he had promised Raft that he would not have "to perform in anything but important pictures." Modern sources state that Raft turned down the role on the advice of his agent and that his contract specified that he was to do no remakes. (Warner Bros. had made two earlier films based on the Dashiell Hammett story.) According to John Huston's autobiography, Raft was reputedly nervous about working with a first-time director. Warner Bros. files add the following additional information: Geraldine Fitzgerald was offered the part of "Brigid" and when she declined, it went to Mary Astor. Eve Arden was considered for the part of "Effie," and Lee Patrick, who played "Effie" in the film, was originally considered for the role of "Iva." Ben Welden was considered for "Miles Archer," Frankie Darro for "Wilmer," and Alan Hale and Charles Wilson were both mentioned as possibilities for the role of "Polhaus." Huston cast his father, Walter, in the uncredited role of "Capt. Jacoby."
       Modern sources add the following information: Olivia de Havilland, Loretta Young, Rita Hayworth, Paulette Goddard, Brenda Marshall, Janet Gaynor, Joan Bennett, Betty Field and Ingrid Bergman were considered for the role of "Brigid." On Jack Warner's orders, cinematographer Ernest Haller shot some retakes which included a simplified opening scene. Warner felt the new beginning was necessary because the audience at the September 5, 1941 preview found the original opening confusing. According to studio records reprinted in a modern source, the film's total cost was $381,000.
       Prior to making his film debut in The Maltese Falcon, Sydney Greenstreet had been a member of the Lunt-Fontaine theatrical troupe. The film earned Academy Award nominations for Sydney Greenstreet (Supporting Actor) and John Huston (Screenplay). It was also nominated as Best Picture. The film's popularity led the studio to consider a sequel, and Jack Warner approached Hammett to write it, but when Hammett demanded a $5,000 guarantee, the plan was dropped.
       Huston's first directorial effort was so successful, both financially and critically, that Warner Bros. quickly assigned him to another film, In This Our Life, which was based on a Pulitizer Prize-winning novel, and which featured a cast of well-known stars including Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and George Brent. The Maltese Falcon, which modern critics have called an early film noir, has continued to be popular.
       Dashiell Hammett's novel had been filmed twice before by Warner Bros: in 1931 Roy Del Ruth directed The Maltese Falcon starring Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez. The 1936 adaptation entitled Satan Met a Lady was directed by William Dieterle and starred Bette Davis and Warren William (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2671 and F3.3904). The 1931 film retained a scene from Hammett's novel in which "Sam" forces "Ruth" (i.e., "Brigid") to strip so that he can search her for a missing $1,000 bill. That scene was not used in the 1941 version because of more stringent censorship regulations. In 1975, Columbia released a parody of the tale, The Black Bird, starring George Segal as "Sam Spade, Jr." under the direction of David Giler. Lee Patrick and Elisha Cook, Jr. revived their original roles for that film. Neil Simon's 1978 movie The Cheap Detective drew on The Maltese Falcon as well as two other Bogart classics from the 1940s, Casablanca and The Big Sleep. The Adventures of Sam Spade, a radio series based on the Hammett novel, ran from September 29, 1946 until 1951. In the beginning, the program starred Howard Duff as "Spade" and Lurene Tuttle as "Effie." In 1949, the series moved from CBS to NBC and Steve Dunne took over the lead role. Edward G. Robinson and Gail Patrick starred in a February 8, 1943 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of The Maltese Falcon.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States March 1977

Released in United States March 1979

Released in United States Summer August 18, 1941

Based on the novel "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett (New York, 1930).

Feature directorial debut for John Huston.

Broadcast in USA over TBS (colorized version) November 12, 1986.

Selected in 1989 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States 1973 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Great American Films) November 15 - December 16, 1973.)

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in Los Angeles (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex) as part of program "Femmes Fatales Follow Them at Your Own Risk!" October 5 - December 15, 1996.)

Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Double Vision-Two different classics made from the same story) March 9-27, 1977.)

Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 50-Hour Mighty Movie Marathon: Mystery and Suspense) March 14-30, 1979.)

Released in United States Summer August 18, 1941