43-02-08 The Maltese Falcon - Edward G. Robinson, Gail Patrick, Laird Cregar, Bea Benaderet, Charles Seel, Charlie Lung, Edward Marr, Fred MacKaye, Leo Cleary, Norman Field, Warren Ashe
The MovieThe Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and a remake of the 1931 film of the same name.Written and directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade; Mary Astor as his femme fatale client; Gladys George, who received third billing despite having a relatively minor role; Peter Lorre; and Sydney Greenstreet in his film debut. The film was Huston's directorial debut and was nominated for three Academy Awards.
The story concerns a San Francisco private detective's dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers who compete to obtain a fabulous jewel-encrusted statuette of a falcon.
The Maltese Falcon has been named as one of the greatest films of all time by Roger Ebert, and Entertainment Weekly, and was cited by Panorama du Film Noir Américain, the first major work on film noir, as the first film of that genre.
The film premiered on October 3, 1941, in New York City and was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1989.
In 1941 San Francisco, private investigators Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) meet prospective client Miss Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor). She claims to be looking for her missing sister, who is involved with a man named Floyd Thursby. Wonderly is to meet Thursby and hopes her sister will be with him. After receiving a substantial retainer, Archer volunteers to follow her that night and help get her sister back.
That night, Spade is informed that Archer has been killed. He meets his friend, Police Detective Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond) at the murder scene. He then calls Wonderly's hotel, but she has checked out. He is grilled by Polhaus and his supervisor, Lieutenant Dundy (Barton MacLane), who inform him that Thursby was also murdered that same evening. Dundy suggests that Spade had the opportunity and motive (an affair with Archer's wife, played by Gladys George) to commit both crimes.
The next morning, Spade meets Wonderly, now calling herself Brigid O'Shaughnessy. She explains that Thursby was her partner and probably killed Archer, but claims to have no idea who killed Thursby. Spade agrees to investigate the murders.
At his office, Spade meets Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), who first offers him a $5,000 fee to find a "black figure of a bird," then pulls a gun on him in order to search for it. Spade manages to knock Cairo out and go through his belongings. When Cairo revives, Spade returns Cairo's firearm and allows the man to search his office. Later that evening, Spade tells O'Shaughnessy about his encounter with Cairo. When Cairo shows up, it becomes clear that Spade's acquaintances know each other. Cairo becomes agitated when O'Shaughnessy reveals that the "Fat Man" is in San Francisco.
In the morning, Spade goes to Cairo's hotel, where he spots Wilmer (Elisha Cook, Jr.), a young man who had been following him earlier. He gives Wilmer a message for his boss, Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet), the "Fat Man". Spade meets Gutman. Gutman begins to talk about the Falcon, but becomes evasive, causing Spade to storm out, giving Gutman a deadline to be more forthcoming. Later, Spade is taken by Wilmer at gunpoint to see Gutman. Spade overpowers Wilmer, but meets with Gutman anyway, handing him the guns on the way in to subtly inform Gutman he's more capable than his hired thug Wilmer. Gutman relates the history of the Maltese Falcon. He offers Spade $50,000 for the bird (a $25,000 down payment and $25,000 on delivery) or a quarter of the proceeds from its sale, which he guesses would be a quarter million, minimum. Spade then passes out; his drink was spiked. Wilmer, Gutman and Cairo (who was in another room) depart.
When Spade awakens, he searches the suite and finds a newspaper with the arrival time of the freighter La Paloma circled. He goes to the dock, only to find the ship on fire, so he returns to his office. A man (Walter Huston) clutching a bundle wrapped in newspaper bursts in and staggers toward Spade before dying. The contents of his wallet identify the dead man as Captain Jacoby of the La Paloma. The bundle contains the Maltese Falcon.
The phone rings. O'Shaughnessy gives an address and then screams before the line goes dead. Spade stashes the package in a bus terminal baggage room, then goes to the address. It turns out to be an empty lot. Spade returns home and finds Brigid hiding in a doorway. He takes her inside, and finds Gutman, Cairo, and Wilmer waiting for him, guns drawn. Gutman gives Spade $10,000 for the Falcon, but Spade tells them that part of his price is someone he can turn over to the police for the murders of Archer, Thursby, and Captain Jacobi. Spade suggests Wilmer as the best choice, since he certainly killed Thursby and Jacoby. After some intense negotiation, Gutman and Cairo agree; Wilmer is knocked out in a scuffle. Spade gets the details of what happened and who killed whom: Gutman, Cairo, O'Shaughnessy, and Thursby have all been hunting the statue in Istanbul and elsewhere, and had engaged in multiple schemes and double-crosses of each other. O'Shaughnessy had arranged for the statue to arrive on the incoming ship, and Cairo and Gutman had tracked down her and Thursby in order to steal it back from them.
Just after dawn, Spade calls his secretary, Effie Perrine (Lee Patrick), to bring him the bundle. However, when Gutman inspects the black statuette, he discovers that it is a fake. He suggests that he and Cairo return to Istanbul to continue their quest. After they leave, Spade calls the police and tells them where to pick up the trio. Spade then angrily confronts Brigid, telling her he knows she killed Archer to implicate Thursby, her unwanted accomplice. Brigid cannot believe that Spade would turn her over to the police, but he does, despite his feelings for her.
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