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Purchase The Maltese Falcon (1941) Movie Online and Download - John Huston 🎥
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
John Huston
Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade
Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Gladys George as Iva Archer
Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane as Det. Lt. Dundy
Lee Patrick as Effie Perine
Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond as Det. Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan as Miles Archer
Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer Cook
James Burke as Luke
Murray Alper as Frank Richman
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 Wanderly, 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 Wanderly 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.
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Jewel encrusted
Whenever I see this film I am always impressed with how good the story is.

These days we are used to brilliant crime/mystery series and movies on TV and cable, but back in its day "The Maltese Falcon" was head and shoulders over just about every film in the genre, which often had unbelievable stories and lightweight characters.

It not only had that great story, but crackling dialogue and a perfect cast. From Bogart as Sam Spade, Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy to Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet as Joel Cairo and Kaspar Gutman, the cast almost seemed divinely inspired.

When I finally read the book, I discovered that the great story and that crackling dialogue is in there: "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it…", "I distrust a man who says when…", and all the others, they were author Dashiell Hammett's all along.

But what director John Huston and the cast did was to bring the characters alive; they gave them shadings beyond Hammett's words. The film added to the book. That isn't always the case. How often has the indefinable magic in a book failed to come through in the film? But in this case the film added the magic.

Although Hammett came up with the plot and just about every word we hear spoken, it's hard not to picture Bogart as Sam Spade even when Hammett describes him as a blonde Satan.

No, something unique happened on that film, it was Huston's first directing job and he just laid out the pages, edited them a bit, and shot the whole thing pretty much in sequence – and he sharpened the ending.

In his impressively researched "The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre", author Stephen D. Youngkin tells how Lorre regarded this as the most enjoyable filmmaking experience of his career. Huston created a family atmosphere among the cast and crew. That wasn't necessarily the atmosphere Huston always created – Ray Bradbury on "Moby Dick" probably didn't think so – but this was his first film as director and there was no shortage of enthusiasm.

Although the film is nearly 80-years old, the story and the characters are so strong you soon forget that there isn't a smartphone or computer in sight. I love Bogart's tough, cynical Sam Spade, he's seen it all, but he is not without empathy.

In fact it's those characteristics that are the secret to all the truly successful PI's and cops in movies and on TV ever since.
Top notch mystery that kicked off the film noir genre of the 1940s
"The Maltese Falcon", scripted and directed by Hollywood first-timer John Huston (from Dashiell Hammett's novel), would go on to become an American film classic. Humphrey Bogart chews the scenery in his star-making turn as acid-tongued private eye Sam Spade, whose association with the beautiful and aloof Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), neurotic Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), and morbidly obese Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet, in his Oscar-nominated screen debut) over the recovery of the title object, sets in motion a movie experience that is as much crackling as it is dazzling. While much of the action and dialogue is considerably dated by modern standards, the film's essential power to mystify and entrance remains undiminished despite its age. While this was the third adaptation of Hammett's story (the first was made in 1931 and the second was "Satan Met a Lady" (1936)), this is also the best remembered and most praised, due largely in part to Bogart's seemingly effortless portrayal of the tough but softhearted, world-weary hero. Mary Astor and Lee Patrick were, respectively, the definitive femme fatale and girl Friday, and the villianous roles of Cairo, Gutman and Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) were equally remarkable. What may not be wholly obvious is the fact that these three men have homosexual tendencies (as given in the novel), but just look at what's given: Cairo's delicate speech and manner, Wilmer's questionable quick tempered attitude towards Spade (could this be covering up the fact that he finds Spade attractive?) and Gutman's clutching of Spade's arm when Sam arrives at his hotel room. A polished film noir that gave rise to Bogart's mounting popularity. (Sidenote: The character of Sam Spade was originally offered to George Raft, who turned it down. Raft also turned down "Casablanca" (1942), "High Sierra" (1941) and William Wyler's "Dead End" (1937), all of which went to Bogart and helped to boost his star status. Bogart had Raft to thank for his enduring popularity.) A must-see masterpiece. ****
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Humphrey Bogart makes his highly deserved tryst with super-stardom in John Huston's directorial debut
Seven decades have passed but the suspense and thrill of The Maltese Falcon still reign supreme. The movie, despite being in black & white, appears strikingly refreshing both to the eyes and the intellect. Primarily remembered as John Huston's directorial debut, the movie played a decisive role in giving Film-Noire its true identity as a genre. The Maltese Falcon also gave Humphrey Bogart his highly deserved super-stardom that had hitherto eluded him. Huston creates an environment of suspicion, doubt and uncertainty that is so convoluted that even Hitchcock would be proud of it. The movie has multiple layers of mystery and suspense that keeps the viewer engaged throughout.

Sam Spade is a private detective who runs an agency with his partner Miles Archer. An ostensibly naive lady, Miss Wanderly offers them a task to pursue a man, Floyd Thursby, who has allegedly run off with her younger sister. The over-simplicity of task arouses Spade's suspicion, but Wanderly's lucrative offer makes the duo overlook it initially. Miles is killed during the pursuit and the police inform Spade of the mishap. Spade only discreetly tells the police that Miles was after a man named Thursby without disclosing anything about Miss Wandely. The police soon find Thursby dead as well and suspect Spade for killing him in an act of revenge. Soon Miles Archer's widow shows up at Spade's office and insinuates of her romantic involvement with Spade, who shuns her away after she tries to incriminate him for the murder. The police come across an anonymous lead and begin suspecting Spade for killing his partner, Miles. The plot thickens with the entry a couple of obscure characters including Joel Cairo, who happens be an acquaintance of Miss Wanderly. He is in pursuit of a highly precious, antique, gold statuette of Maltese Falcon and offers Spade five grands to help him find it. A game of cat and mouse soon ensues, between the various stake holders, which becomes deadlier as the stakes are raised.

Humphrey Bogart perfectly fits into the shoes of Spade—a sleek and sharp sleuth—and makes it his own in a manner that only someone of his grit and caliber could. Bogart is in top form right from the inception to the finale, stealing the spotlight in almost every scene that is he is part of. Bogart could only demonstrate his prodigious talent and acting prowess in short bursts during his long "B movie" stint in which he was mostly type-casted as a gangster. The Maltese Falcon was Bogart's big break after years of anticipation and he didn't leave a single stone unturned to prove his mettle. Bogart shows his class and stamps his authority as a performer during the portrayal of Spade: he is ever so quick-witted thanks to his sublime articulacy and his prowess at repartee seems unparalleled; the inherent cynicism in Spade and the perspicacity with which he operates soon became Bogart's trademark and catapulted him to super-stardom. Many regard Bogart's performance in Casablanca as his absolute best, but I rate his portrayal of Spade second only to his supernal portrayal of Dobbs in The Treasure of Sierre Madre, where he took acting to hitherto unattainable and unforeseeable heights.

John Huston uses the Midas touch he had as a screenwriter to strike all the right cords in his directorial debut. Almost everyone in the supporting cast gives a memorable performance with special mention of Peter Lorre as the deceptive Joel Cairo, Sydney Greenstreet as the witty yet dangerous Kasper Gutman and Mary Astor as the scheming Brigid O' Shaughnessy. The taut plot of the movie, which is masterfully adapted from the novel of the same name by Huston himself, is well complemented by the impressively written dialogs that are delivered with an equal prowess. Amidst the everlasting suspense the movie has an obvious undertone of dark humor that adds great value to the movie. The cinematography undoubtedly features amongst the best works of the time.

The Maltese Falcon is not merely a Noire masterpiece but also a testament to the true spirit of cinema that has kept itself alive despite decades of relentless mutilation and sabotage in the name of commercial movie-making. Despite being devoid of modern-day gimmicks the movie is incredibly high on suspense and holds the viewer in a vice-like grip throughout its runtime. It's a real shame that movies like these are seldom made these days. The tone of the movie is such that it makes suspense thrillers of today appear like kids cartoon.

PS. The movie is an ode to Bogart, Huston and all those who made it a reality. It's suspense cinema at its absolute best with a completely different treatment to themes propagated by the likes of Hitchcock. It's a must for all the Bogart fans worldwide, and absolutely essential for all those who have a penchant for Film-Noire as a genre. 10/10

A shaggy dog story with feathers and Humphrey Bogart
image1.jpeg A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous (?) liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette. Caught on Late night Hungarian TV, February 2017. The Maltese Falcon, 1941, was the directing debut of John Huston and the career breakthrough role of Humphrey Bogart, then Himself 41. Until then Bogey had played a string of notorious criminals and unsavory bad guys in gangster pix and always got killed at the end. In Falcon he comes into his own as a the cynical cool cucumber on the right side of the law, or almost, that we we will remember him as forever after.

This particular film has some remarkable moments, some fine B/w photography, and some terrific characters; Besides Bogey, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet (if anything, even cooler than Bogart) and the best mousy punk ever, Elisha Cook. Jr. but it is basically a B detective story that has been enormously overrated and praised to high heaven by reverse intello-critics who have even convinced a legion of critical camp followers that this is "one of the greatest movies of all time".

First of all, it is not the first "film noir" as some apologists have claimed nor is it by any stretch of the imagination the greatest movie of all time. It is not even a film noir by the usual standards of that genre nor is it a great script as others have claimed, It's a very muddled script that is carried along by some fabulous characters and whose numerous potholes are slicked over by some very smooth dialogue. The main figures are very well drawn but the story about a chase after a valuable stuffed bird is more of a red herring than a black bird of prey.

The major weak point of the picture, however, is the insipidness of the anti-heroine played by unsexy plain looking actress Mary Astor for whom hard boiled detective Sam Spade (Bogart ) is supposed to have the hots throughout and even slips her a few half hearted kisses at times, but then realizing she is an unscrupulous murderess has to turn her into the cops who have been bugging him all along. (Ward Bond was one of them).

For all its weaknesses and credibility gaps just watching Bogart evolve in this picture from a crass villain to a leading superstar in one easy lesson, and especially the finely crafted scenes between himself and Bulky silky middle aged actor Sidney Greenstreet (who should have gotten co-star billing) elevate this ordinary programmer to the realm of high entertainment. But let us not get carried away -- high entertainment is not the same as High Art. This is not the Greatest Story Ever Told on screen... Casablance, which followed the next year, again with Bogart, Lorre and Greenstreet, but a different director and this time with a much more attractive leading lady -- an actress by the name of Ingrid Bergman -- was a much better movie, and definitely in the realm of cinema art even though it too was originally intended to be mass entertainment. There comes a point where the distinction between extraordinary craftsmanship and artistry melts away. Director Michael Curtiz was such a perfect craftsman that that he became an artist without even trying. John Huston was a very good craftsman, but the craftsmanship always showed.

Aside from everything else what makes Maltese Falcon is the personalities of the main players. I didn't think it was an exceptionally good movie when I saw it as an uncritical kid eons ago. Decades later as a critical adult my original impression hasn't changed much. Two stars for the story. Four stars for the actors. Six Stars total -- and that's being kind of generous..
Maltese Falcon (1941
Sam Spade and Miles Archer are private investigators who reside in San Francisco. They are hired by Ruth Wonderly to her find her sister, who has runaway. Wonderly wants to meet the man she believes her sister is mixed up with, Floyd Thusby.

After the investigators meet with Wonderly; Archer and Thursby are killed and Wonderly has checked out of her hotel room. As the film progresses, you learn Wonderly's real name is Brigid O'Shaughnessy. After she confesses her real name, Spade then agrees to take on her case.

This movie definitely did not turn out the way I expected. There are many twist and turns in this film. I thought it was going to turn out to be your normal love story where the boy gets the girl, but that definitely did not happen.
A great, smart noir whose pace covers the plot holes and is based on some great performances
Private detectives Sam Spade and Miles Archer are hired to follow a man called Thursby for a woman. When Archer is murdered and Thursby gunned down, the police and Spade are keen to get answers. When the woman reveals she was lying about her motivations and her identity (she is really Bridget O'Shaughnessy), Sam finds out that she and Thursby were hiding a valuable statute of a falcon. The situation gets more complex when Bridget and Sam come under pressure form other sources that also want the falcon for themselves - namely the pompous Kasper Gutman and the weasely Joel Cairo.

The fact that this film is considered a classic almost makes it difficult to come to this with an objective view, but I did the best I could when I came to see it again for the first time in quite a few years. The film is pretty much a classic that deserves it reputation and stands out as a great bit of hardboiled detective stories from the period. The plot is a little complex at the start as the characters are introduced, but it quickly settles down to be a film with a solid plot that is enjoyable despite the fact that it falls down occasionally. The plot details are too often blurred or just forgotten about - giving the impression of a plot that is more complex than it actually is. However this isn't a problem as the film has enough pace and tough energy to cover these weaknesses and never let you linger for very long on them. The direction from Huston is very good, using almost totally interior shots to increase the tension and the feeling - amazingly this was his first film as director, but you wouldn't know it to watch it. Of course, needless to say, the writing (both source and screenplay) is top notch and is one of the big selling points of the film.

The dialogue is really tough and full of memorable lines, 'When you're slapped you'll take it and like it' probably being the one that everybody remembers. A big reason that the dialogue works as well as it does is down to the fantastic performances from all the cast, although having said that it is dominated by the lead. Bogart summed up his most famous roles for future generations in this one film. He is a complex guy who we're never sure is straight of crooked, he is tough and violent - sleeping with his partner's wife and unafraid of anything. The dialogue fits him like a glove and this is one of my favourite of his performances as it is the one of the ones where he seems to have got everything bang on. Astor is good because, for me, she doesn't fit into the usual role of femme fatale - she is quite needy and demur and that is even more dangerous than the women who are overtly sexual and manipulative, as they were frequently in the later noirs. Lorre is the wonderful, weedy, snivelling character than he does so well and is remembered for. Likewise Greenstreet is a great actor and manages to be overblown without being silly. Cook has a small role but shows his talents in little ways - his reaction when he realises how expendable he is to Gutman is great.

Overall this is a classic film that will please all fans of detective stories and the noir genre. It has a flawed plot but it's dialogue and tough energy cover those up enough to keep things moving all the time. The characters are complex, none more so than Spade himself who is as smart as he is gullible and as cold as he is loving , and they are brought to life by a series of great performances. On top of all this, the film is dominated by a Bogart performance that acts as a perfect example of his most famous work.
Determination solves a crime
The Maltese Falcon is about a detective who solves the crime of his partner's murder by dogged determination.

The main plot is the solving of the crime (which ends in success), with a minor love interest subplot that ends in failure (the detective gives up the love interest after discovering she committed the murder).

As a story The Maltese Falcon largely flatlines.

The main plot moves from discovery to discovery but the turning points feel arbitrary and not meaningful. As the story unfolds, the detective unravels the back story of what the treasure is and how it got here. But the back story's revelation doesn't create much meaning for us or the protagonist as it mainly involves the secondary characters while our main character remains immovable and static. The main character untangles the sordid histories of these secondary characters to solve the crime, but we are left with a feeling of so what? In the end we get two somewhat moral triumphs: one, the detective solves the crime of his partner's murder despite the police messing up their investigation. But this moral victory feels empty since he and his dead partner's wife are lovers, which throws him off the moral high horse. The second is that he gives up his feelings for O'Shaughnessy and sends her to prison because he finds out she turns out to be the murderer. This moral dilemma also feels empty because: A) so he cheated on his dead partner's wife who was his lover to be with this new lover and then gives her up, how is that a moral victory? and B) The two of them only have 2 or 3 turning points to develop their relationship and their love doesn't have much to stand on.

So the story is reduced to rely almost exclusively on a classic who dunnit throughline with some great actors who are unfortunately trying to breath life into empty cardboard box of characters. In other words, a big waste of time.

My Story Chart of the movie is at storycharts.ca
Old School detective work
There is a good chance I am just a sucker for these types of movies. When the movie starts out, the first murder brings the mystery that is needed to make for a great twist ending that we tend to take for granted nowadays. The character Mary Astor is a type that has been duplicated ever since the debut of this movie. An obviously attractive woman that seeks out help when not telling the whole truth. The rest of the movie follows the unveiling of what really happens. You need a actor like Bogart to help with this kind of plot movement. His quick wit and snarky remarks are essential to why the movie is great. He almost seems like he is the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr. and his roll in the new Sherlock Holmes series. All in all, I think that this is one of the greats that should never be forgotten.
Third Time's the Charm in the 1941 Version of Hammett's Classic
The classic 1941 version of THE MALTESE FALCON (TMF) was the third movie adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's seminal detective novel about cynical private eye Sam Spade's adventures with the alluring but treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy and other greedy no-goodniks vying for the titular falcon statue. It proves the old adage "The third time is the charm." No wonder John Huston's taut, wryly cynical take on Hammett's tale put him on the map as a writer/director. His version has the best of everything in one package: the best private eye thriller, the best Dashiell Hammett movie adaptation, the best remake, and the best nest-of-vipers cast, including the signature Humphrey Bogart role/performance.

Huston's powerhouse cast was born to play these characters. Between the perfect performances (even the great Walter Huston is memorable in his brief cameo as the dying Captain Jacobi), Huston's lean, mean pacing and striking visuals (Arthur Edeson's expressionistic photography and Thomas Richards' editing work beautifully), and the overall faithfulness to the novel, it's as if Huston & Company just opened the book and shook it until the characters fell out, then started filming.

Humphrey Bogart doesn't match Hammett's description of Sam Spade as a "blond Satan," but he's got Spade's attitude down perfectly, and besides, he's Bogart! What's not to like? Bogie deftly balances toughness, trickiness, and tenderness, but he never lets his tender side make a sap out of him. I find Bogart's Spade sexier than skirt-chasing Ricardo Cortez or Warren William in the previous films because the dames are drawn to Bogie because of his sheer charisma and strength of character, as opposed to him aggressively pitching woo at them until they give in from sheer exhaustion. In an early scene with Brigid, Spade has a line about how all he has to do is stand still and the cops will be swarming all over him; substitute "women" for "cops" and the line would still be accurate! :-) Mary Astor's real-life shady-lady past informs her spot-on performance as quicksilver Brigid O'Shaughnessy, but it's her watchful eyes, elegance, and that beseeching "throb in (her) voice" as she enlists Spade's aid that makes her so fascinating and believable as an avaricious adventuress with a prim, sweet facade—a woman who'd kill a guy as soon as kiss him, and keep him guessing about her intentions until the bitter end. That's what made Astor and Bogart such a great team; in their capable hands, Brigid and Spade are two wily, street-smart people who are onto each other as well as into each other.

Every actor in TMF shines, from Bogart and Astor to Ward Bond and Barton MacLane as Sgt. Polhaus and Lt. Dundy, to Jerome Cowan as Spade's doomed partner Miles Archer, to Gladys George as clingy, vindictive Iva Archer, to the only cast members who reprised their roles in the otherwise so-so 1975 sequel/spoof THE BLACK BIRD: Elisha Cook Jr. as gunsel Wilmer Cook and Lee Patrick as Spade's trusty secretary Effie Perine. After Spade's tomcatting with Effie and other babes in the early films, it was refreshing that Effie's interest in Spade here is more professional than personal. There's warmth between them, but it stops well short of neck-nuzzling and lap-sitting. :-) Cook has many memorable moments, particularly one brilliant scene where he's on the verge of shooting the cool, calm Spade, his eyes filling with tears of rage as he whispers, "Get on your feet. I've taken all the riding from you I'm gonna take." When Wilmer comes to after Spade punches him out, dread and horror spreads over his face as each of the conspirators stares at him coldly (another triumph of editing and photography), and he realizes he's being set up as their fall guy. You can almost hear Wilmer frantically thinking, "Oh, s***!!!" Still, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre come closest to stealing the show. As Kasper Gutman, Greenstreet blends menace with avuncularity, his voice a cultured growl. Greenstreet's performance is so assured, it's hard to believe TMF was this veteran stage actor's first movie job, but it's easy to see why he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. TMF made Greenstreet an in-demand character actor and one of cinema's most memorable villains, especially in his team-ups with Peter Lorre. Lorre's witty, sly performance as the smoothly effeminate yet ruthless weasel Joel Cairo is a marvelous addition to the rogues' gallery of lowlifes Lorre played over the course of his long career. After TMF's success, the great cast worked together in various combinations in many movies, including CASABLANCA. I've always wondered what a TMF caper film sequel following Gutman and Cairo to Istanbul would've been like, considering Greenstreet and Cairo's antihero buddy chemistry.

TMF has so much memorable dialogue, often laced with sardonic humor, that I'd be virtually transcribing the whole script if I quoted all my fave lines. In my family, "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter" and "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it" have often been jokingly quoted. Then there's Gutman's deliciously ironic toast with Spade: "Here's to plain speaking and clear understanding." Plain speaking and clear understanding with this band of greedy, duplicitous cutthroats?! Good luck! :-) But the talk's a joy to listen to; as Gutman says, "I distrust a closed-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says all the wrong things. Talking is something you can't do judiciously unless you keep in practice." TMF has one of cinema's greatest last lines, Spade's answer when Polhaus asks what the statue is: "The stuff that dreams are made of." I also love the climactic scene with all the principal players, especially the dialogue between Spade and Gutman about how to go about getting what they want ("...If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can't afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?...") Truly, TMF is "The stuff that dreams are made of"!
The dark depths of a treasure hunt
Last night was time to watch "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) again. The lighting and camera work (Arthur Edeson, cinematographer) are exceptional, contemporary with Gregg Toland's in "Citizen Kane", also 1941. Good and innovative technique apparently spreads fast. The camera work gives us sharp and detailed interiors, backgrounds and foregrounds both in focus, achieving a freshness of look that does not age. Many times we see complete figures, head to toe, and bits of ceiling above. A good many low shots appear, such as those capturing Bogart comfortably reclining in his leather chair making a phone call and ponderous Sydney Greenstreet.

This is a film with great and memorable characters. The characterizations allude to two and maybe three homosexuals. Notice how Greenstreet takes Bogart's arm and how he later places his hand on Bogart's knee. His walk and giggle are almost flirtatious. Peter Lorre's character is much more open about his proclivity and Elisha Cook Jr.'s sexuality cloudier. Nonetheless, he is a gunman acting tough who allows himself to be dominated by Greenstreet and pushed around by Bogart. He seems to have a sado-masochistic streak.

The lesser parts add greatly to this film, and they include Bogart's secretary, Lee Patrick, Jerome Cowan's brief appearance as Bogart's partner, and Cowan's wife, Gladys George. They include Ward Bond as a friendly cop and particularly Barton MacLane as a tough cop who promises to be impartial to Bogart, either way. It's always fun to see Walter Huston stumble in with the Falcon baled up.

Mary Astor's seductiveness is not flaunted. Director John Huston treats this subtly when she reclines. At that point, Bogart can't help but lean down and kiss her, enough to suggest what passes between them. After all, if Bogart could go with his partner's wife, why not with this attractive client? He treats it much less subtly when she asks Bogart how she can compete for his trust and help and he grabs her head and kisses her.

As in the last time I watched this, I think Bogart's Sam Spade very early suspected Mary Astor, never really being fooled by her. His jabs at her holding back and at her schoolgirl manner make this verbally clear, but there also fleeting instances when we see it in his eyes in reaction shots. Nevertheless, the attraction was very strong, as is made clear in the closing speech.

The main flaw in this movie is that the story rather lurches along from one conversation to the next, sometimes requiring long speeches to make its complexity comprehensible. The continuity of the action takes a little thought to discern and sometimes it's really elusive.

But the movie has rightly achieved its iconic status as an early hard-boiled and cynical film noir. It was rightly placed in that position by early critics who invented the category of noir. Its emphasis on shady characters in a subterranean quest for a contested treasure who tangle with one another in opaque ways creates one facet of this noir story. These characters wave guns, drug drinks, pretend to be what they are not, and resort to murder if need be. They are obsessed with getting the jewel-encrusted bird. The hero, Sam Spade, is no prince but he does have a code. Although he speaks of bad nights after sending Astor over, he tells us they'll pass. He almost takes pleasure in telling her that he will indeed send her over. There is a certain cruel streak there. He's certainly hard-boiled and callous when it comes to Cowan's death. Any softness is slow to leak out or show. It becomes almost a business matter to him, which is perhaps his way of placing the pain into a place where it won't hurt as much or where he can avoid feeling guilty at cavorting with Gladys George.

A noir film is a marriage of style and content, and there seem to be many ways of achieving this that allow for large variations in both. This makes it extremely difficult to define the category. Noir stories emphasize the darker sides of human passions, closing their characters into prisons of their own feelings, weaknesses, plans, desires and actions. They could be in the middle of a desert and still feel trapped or have been trapped. Those in quest of the falcon are trapped by their own desires. Bogart is almost trapped by attraction to Astor.

This movie is a classic. It will later be matched by a good many others, which testifies to the capacities of movie-makers the world over. But as an early entry that retains its appeal and freshness to this day, it achieves a special status.
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