In this spoof of the story The Maltese Falcon (1941) is based on, a double-crossing woman, the two-timing P.I. she hired, the corpulent "empress of crime", and a gentleman thief are all after a legendary priceless eighth-century ram's horn.
Sam Spade is quite the womanizer. When his secretary tells him the new customer waiting outside his office is a knockout, he wastes no time before seeing her. It turns out she's a knockout with money. And she wants to spend it on his services as a private detective. She has some story about wanting to protect her sister. Neither he nor his partner, Miles Archer, believes it. But with the money she's paying, who cares? The job proves to be more dangerous than either of them expected. It involves not just the lovely dame with the dangerous lies, but also the sweaty Casper Gutman, the fey Joel Cairo, and the thuggish young Wilmer Cook. Three crooks, and all of them are looking for the statuette of a black bird they call the Maltese Falcon.Written by
When originally sold to television in the 1950s, the title was changed to "Dangerous Female" in order to avoid confusion with its illustrious remake, The Maltese Falcon (1941). Fifty years later, Turner Classic Movies restored its original title card. However, as recently as April 27, 2017, the service used by cable companies to provide data for their viewing guides used the "Dangerous Female" title for TCM's showing of the movie on that date. See more »
Visiting Wonderly, Spade finds that she has been reading a book. In close-up, its title is shown as "The Strange Case of the Little Black Bird", with a picture of the eponymous falcon on the jacket. But in other shots, it is "Famous Criminals and their Trials" (possibly the 1926 book by Sidney Theodore Felstead), with human portraits on the jacket. See more »
'The Maltese Falcon', one of the few exceptions to the rule that movie remakes are generally poorer than their originals, is best known as the Bogart version released in 1941.
However, in the previous decade, Warner Brothers had made two other versions, of which the 1931 film was the first. Instead of Humphrey Bogart, we have the smirking Ricardo Cortez (who gives a new edge to Sam which is both entertaining and dangerous), while Mary Astor gives way to Bebe Daniels, a big star in early talkies who makes an interesting foil for the vain detective.
'The Maltese Falcon', 1931-style, runs slightly less time than its more well-known namesake, but is tightly plotted and benefits from crisp delivery, a bit of pre-Code naughtiness, and small roles from the likes of Dudley Digges and Thelma Todd. It is an efficient and entertaining thriller which would be much higher regarded had the Bogart version not been made.
Still, it holds up well in comparison. Perhaps not a classic, but good enough to be enjoyed in its own right.
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