The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Presented by Bill Ramsey
In 1539 the Knight Templars 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.
John Huston was a 35 year-old wunderkind making his directorial debut with The Maltese Falcon. What he produced is a film that remains a phenomenon 79 years later. The author of the book was Dashiell Hammett (1930), the author of the screen play Huston himself. The movie was shot in sequence and photographed in black and white, making it an early film noir classic.
Detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) rides herd on grifters played by Sydney Greenstreet, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, who are in pursuit of a fortune that would reside with whomever owned The Maltose Falcon. Bogart’s detective became the archetype for a private detective in the film noir genre and San Francisco was anointed film noir’s hometown. Astor is enshrined as the ultimate film “femme fatale”.
American Film Institute recognitions
1998-AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies – No. 2. 2001-AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Thrills – No. 26. 2003-AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains: Kasper Gutman – Nominated Villain, Brigid O’Shaughnessy – Nominated Villain. 2005-100 Years, 100 Movie Quotes: “The stuff that dreams are made of” – No. 14. The expression is based on Act 4 of William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, wherein Prospero says, “We are such stuff / As dreams are made on.” “You’re good, you’re very good.” – Nominated. 2008-AFI;s 10 Top 10 – No. 6 Mystery Film