The Maltese Faucon

The Maltese Faucon
Original title:The Maltese Faucon
Director:John Huston
Running time:100 minutes
Release date:03 october 1941
Detective Sam Spade and his partner Miles Archer are hired by the beautiful Miss Wonderly to keep an eye on Floyd Thursby, who has allegedly run away with their client's sister. That evening, Archer is found dead, as is Thursby a few hours later. To avoid embarrassing questions from the police, Spade goes looking for Wonderly. He hopes to solve this mysterious case.

Tootpadu's Review

"What dreams are made of" is a very accurate definition for cinema, an art that relies more than any other on pretense to seduce its audience. This first film by John Huston excels in misdirection, Machiavellian tricks, finely calculated twists and cynical irony. Nothing is what it seems in this high-flying plot, whose pretext is a precious statue. However, the real issue in this masterful adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel is the analysis of the vicious and deceitful nature of man.

Sam Spade is the prototype of the disillusioned hero of the 20th century: egotistical, adept at improvisation, cautious and observant. He doesn't lead the way in this messy affair, but he's pretty damn determined not to get caught. At the same time, his actions are so predetermined by calculation, distrust and anticipation of his opponents' tricks, that sentiment, whether friendly or amorous, has no place in them. Spade may be the master of the game of deception, the puppeteer who knows when to pull which thread, but he remains isolated and detached from everything in the end.

The script, of an extraordinary speed and elegance, is perfectly complemented by an almost perfect direction. Apart from two minor editing blunders (the end of the last appearance of Archer's widow and a shot of Guttman that doesn't really convey his excitement), the story does indeed move at a breakneck speed. But behind the various pieces of the criminal puzzle lies a network of delightfully twisted relationships. Each character hides his or her game admirably, knowing that bilaterally recognized supercharity is only one of many means to an end.

The Maltese Falcon
Written and directed by John Huston
Based on The Maltese Falcon 1930 novel by Dashiell Hammett
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, Sydney Greenstreet
Cinematography : Arthur Edeson
Edited by Thomas Richards
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Production company : Warner Bros.
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates: October 3, 1941 (New York City), October 18, 1941 (United States), July 31, 1946 (France)
Running time : 101 minutes

Reviewed on September 24, 2007, on DVD, in VO

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