The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 mystery/noir film directed by John Huston (see also The African Queen) and starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre (see also, M), and Sydney Greenstreet. The film was a critical and popular success upon release and even had a short lived sequel in the works. It was nominated for three Academy Awards in the categories of Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Greenstreet), and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Huston) The film continues to be held in high regard having made a number of AFI lists. So does this dark mystery deserve to be counted among the all time greats? Read on!
Should this film be considered a classic? Most definitely. I only need two words to describe why this film should be a classic. Sam Spade. Humphrey Bogart brings this character to life in such a way that all through the film I couldn’t figure out whether to cheer for the guy or hope he got arrested. Bogart imbues the character with a level of cool and intrigue that has often been imitated but never duplicated. It is worth seeing this film just to see a great actor like Bogart in his element. Not only that, but he is surrounded by a great supporting cast. The great actor of many “creeper” roles, Peter Lorre is the polar opposite of Bogart’s Spade and the scenes where the two of them share the screen are incredibly engaging. Greenstreet’s “Fat Man” is also a well played character and his quiet sophistication isa great contrast to the more hard charging Spade. The film also has some great cinematography (lots of noir elements) and some great scene chewing by all involved. I could go on but that would take all day. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my first viewing of this film and I think it certainly deserves the label “classic.”
Would I own this film? The Blu-Ray is on my Amazon wish list and I plan to pick it up in the near future. This film is so full of great moments and memorable characters that it is one that simply begs to be revisited regularly. Do yourself a favor if you haven’t seen this great film and find a copy of it to watch this weekend. You won’t regret it.