Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Maltese Falcon Review

As stated yesterday, here is my review of the noir mystery classic, The Maltese Falcon; my 98th favorite film of all-time, and you can read my list here.
The Maltese Falcon follows detective Sam Spade, who is hired to investigate a murder. After investigating, he soon gets wrapped up in a plot of deception and intrigue as other interested parties are after the legendary Maltese Falcon, a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rare jewels. Considered by many to be one of, if not the first, mainstream film noirs, The Maltese Falcon launched the careers of legendary actor, Humphrey Bogart, and director, John Huston. The Maltese Falcon is also based on the book of the same name with Huston's film being the third time it was adapted to film, and the first one to be a true success.

Directed by: John Huston
Genre: Mystery, Noir,
Release Date: October 3, 1941
Running Time: 101 minutes
MMPA rating: PG

The Good: Humphrey Bogart's innate likability and performance drives the film, Created the noir genre, Intriguing mystery,

The Bad: Confusing ending,

Plot: 8.7/10- The Maltese Falcon tells the classic story of a detective trying to solve a murder and plot twists and turns that come with it.
Being that the film is often considered the first film noir, it essentially set the foundation for what many subsequent films would copy and build upon. For the most part, Huston's film is tight and very atmospheric with an excellent use of low-key lighting and unique camera angles. The film's only issue is that the ending is not quite explained quite as well as it could have been.

Characterization: 8.4/10- Of the film's characters, Bogart's Sam Spade takes the cake for being the model for many noir style detectives to come. He has a no-nonsense personality, and he does not allow his feeling to get in the way of his investigation. As for the other characters, many of them are somewhat archetypal by today's standards; however, I assume they were mostly original back in 1941, and regardless, they were fun to watch.

Acting: 9.1/10- The Maltese Falcon is the film that made me a Humphrey Bogart fan. There is a reason why Bogart is often considered the best actor of his generation and that is because of his innate charm and personality that he brings to his performances. In many ways, his performance as Sam Spade influenced many of his later roles. When it comes to cool and cold hearted noir detectives, there are none better than Bogart's portrayals. As for the rest of the cast, Peter Lorre plays the slimy henchmen well, and Mary Astor plays a great classic femme fatale. Sydney Greenstreet was nominated for an Oscar in his first ever film role as a crime boss after the Falcon.

Soundtrack: 5.5/10- The score was mostly par for the course material for the era.

Humor: 7.8/10- Humphrey Bogart's witty one-liners and dialogue provided most of the humor in the film.
Entertainment Value: 9.0/10- As a fan of classic film noir, The Maltese Falcon was a fun and entertaining experience for the majority of the film.

Overall: 8.6/10- Overall, The Maltese Falcon is film noir and Humphrey Bogart at their finest. From the noir atmosphere to the intriguing mystery, Huston's adaptation of the novel delivers.

Closing comments: If you are a mystery fan or a fan of classics in general, you need to watch The Maltese Falcon, and it is very unfortunate that films like this are no longer made.

Recommended for: Mystery fans, Noir fans,

To continue the crime thriller theme, please check back tomorrow for my review of the sci-fi crime thriller Psycho-Pass.

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  1. Ooooh, I'm even more excited to watch this now! I can tell I'll want to then rewatch Murder By Death right away to laugh at "Sam Diamond" lol! Great review!


    1. I hope I have not hyped the movie too much for you!


  2. I've heard of this movie....I don't remember where. But I wanted to see if the first time I heard about it. Then I forgot. I will have to see if my library has it when I go today.

    1. Providing you enjoy classic movies, you should give it a watch for sure.


  3. I just picked up a DVD at Walmart for $5! Which I was very happy about, since my VHS copy was getting pretty worn out.

    This is one of the movies that I like better than the book it's based on. Dashiell Hammett is a good writer, but his Sam Spade lacks the charisma that Bogart gives him. In my opinion, anyway.

    What do you find ambiguous about the ending?

    1. So sorry for not replying sooner! Anyway, great find with the DVD!

      Interesting! I have not read the book though.

      As for the ending, since I wrote this review sometime last year, I can't remember exactly what I meant by that at the time, but I think it had something to do with Mary Astor's character.



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