Customer Review

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, 28 Dec 2002
This review is from: The Maltese Falcon [1941] [DVD] (DVD)
Seldom has any novel been so successfully interpreted on screen: in approaching Dashiell Hammett's seminal private-eye novel, director John Huston not only stayed meticulously true to the plot, he also lifted great chunks on the novel's dialogue directly into the script--and then styled the pace, cinematography, and performances to reflect Hammett's stripped-for-action tone. And the result, to borrow a phrase from the film, is "the stuff that dreams are made of." THE MALTESE FALCON is a iconographic landmark in twentieth century cinema.
The story is well known. San Francisco Private eyes Sam Spade and Miles Archer are employed by an attractive but decidedly questionable Brigid O'Shaughnessy to track down a man named Thursby--but within hours of taking the case both Miles Archer and Thursby are shot dead, and Spade finds himself embroiled in a search for a legendary lost treasure: the figure of a falcon, encrusted with jewels.
The cast is remarkable. Humphrey Bogart made a name for himself first on the stage and then in films with a series of memorable gangster roles, and was fresh from his great success in HIGH SIERRA; Sam Spade, which offered a new twist on his already established persona, was an inspired bit of casting. Mary Astor had been a great star in silent film, but the late twenties and early thirties found her dogged by scandal; perhaps deliberately playing on those memories, she brought a remarkable mixture of toughness, tarnish, and absolute believability to the role of the very, very dangerous Brigid. And the chemistry between Bogart and Astor is a remarkable thing, a simmering sexuality that more glossy casting could have never achieved.
The supporting cast is equally fine. Although a great star in Europe and the star of a number of 1930s films, Peter Lorre was still something of an unknown quanity in American film; Sidney Greenstreet was a minor stage actor with no screen experience; Elisha Cook was a well-liked but neglected character actor. But THE MALTESE FALCON would fix all three firmly in the public mind, and to some extent all three would continue to play variations of their FALCON roles for the rest of their lives.
FALCON is particularly noted as one of several films that craftily circumvented the notorious "Production Code" by effectively implying but never directly stating the various sexual relations between the characters. Spade has clearly had an affair with Archer's wife, Iva; Archer is clearly a man on the sexual make, and leaps at the chance to tail Brigid. Lorre's lines effectively expose Brigid as man-hungry, and the script and situations do everything but flatly state that Lorre's character is homosexual. Perhaps most startling is the implied sexual relationship between Sidney Greenstreet and the hoodlum Elisha Cook, and the concluding implication that Lorre may well replace Cook in Greenstreet's affections. Just as the plotlines swirl and twist, so do the layers of innuendo and the tangles of sexual uncertainty--all of it adding to the film's feel of uneasy decadence and grittiness.
The DVD bonuses are enjoyable but slight--two film trailers and a documentary that uses trailers to show how Warner Bros. marketed Bogart during the 1930s and 1940s. But even if it came without any bonuses the DVD would still be greatly welcomed: although it has not been restored in a computer-corrected sense, this is the finest print I have ever seen of the film, far superior to anything available on VHS. A great film, a true essential, and strongly, strongly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in

Review Details


4.7 out of 5 stars (89 customer reviews)
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
13.99 4.90
Add to basket Add to wishlist

Location: Biloxi, MS USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 559,738