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 Wonderly, 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 Wonderly 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. Written by
Walter Huston did his uncredited cameo as a good luck gesture for his son. He had to promise to the notoriously tight head of studio, Jack L. Warner, that he wouldn't charge for his appearance. See more »
The opening crawl begins, "In 1539, the Knight Templars[sic] of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon..." This confuses two different religious orders of knights, both founded in Jerusalem. The Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, known as the Order of St. John for short, have existed since 1048; they were in fact based in Malta from 1530 to 1798 and hence were also called the Knights of Malta. On the other hand, the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, also called the Knights Templar or just Templars, were founded in 1119 and became the sworn enemies of the first order; this latter group was disbanded by 1312, after King Philip IV of France had declared them heretics so that he could confiscate their wealth. See more »
While there are films that are considered classic for their technical achievements and classics that resound with audiences for a feel-good emotion, The Maltese Falcon stands in that group that is a classic for every aspect of its creative makeup. With a brilliant script, talented direction and some outstanding performances, The Maltese Falcon stands up today as well as it did upon release.
When Sam Spade -- played brilliantly by Humphrey Bogart -- and his partner Archer are hired to tail a rich eccentric by a woman who claims her sister is being unwittingly kept separated from her by the rich eccentric, it seems like just another case. But when Archer and the eccentric are gunned down and all fingers point to Sam Spade for conflicting yet damning reasons, Spade is thrown into a whirlwind of deceptions that all point in one direction: a Maltese statue of a falcon.
Bogart demonstrates clearly why he is one of the great classic actors of the 20th century, and indeed one of the most natural screen actors ever. His charisma, charm and intense masculine looks give him a presence that simply dominates the screen. With a host of other great talents to fill the screen, there is not a moment of wasted performance. The direction is tight and driving and the pacing never lets up. And the script demonstrates why there are less and less truly great films being released in present day: the writers and directors of the golden age of cinema knew that subtlety works ten times more effectively than the modern in-your-face all-the-time works.
The Maltese Falcon is a timeless work that deserves its place in the list of greatest films ever made.
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