Monday, 15 November 2010
The Maltese Falcon 
The Maltese Falcon remains a screen classic for a plethora of reasons; but if I were to select two reasons for its enduring legacy, it wouldn’t be a difficult task – this incredible directorial debut of John Huston is often considered the first film noir, a genre that would give us some of the greatest masterpieces in American cinema, and this was also the movie that catapulted Humphrey Bogart, mostly restricted to second leads till then, to the zenith of stardom. Adapted from pulp maestro Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled book of the same name, The Maltese Falcon has Bogart playing the iconic role of Sam Spade, a sleazy, tough-as-nails, coldly cynical gumshoe, albeit with a strong sense of honour and duty. And he requires all his sanity and razor-sharp mind to be fully intact as he is drawn into a murky battle of wits against a smooth-talking smuggler, callous cops, and a dame who is ready to put a dagger through anyone’s heart provided she gets her share of dough (played memorably by Mary Astor). The serpentine plot keeps you grabbed by the collar right through its crisp length, what with its share of grime, grunge and the grotesque side of human society. Huston’s brilliant direction and screenplay have been superbly coupled here with a subtle but excellent soundtrack, remarkable display of acting, and amazing cinematography with great usage of shadows to create the downbeat mood and atmosphere. Boy what a movie!
p.s. The Maltese Falcon is part of Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection, a wonderful boxset release by Warner Bros.
Director: John Huston
Genre: Film Noir/Mystery/Detective Film