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Maltese Falcon

4.7 out of 5 stars 713 customer reviews

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(Oct 05, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Sam Spade is caught in a frantic search for the jeweled falcon of Malta and his partner's killer. His pursuit leads him to a group of desperate individuals who also want the bird.

Special Features

None

Product Details

  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Writers: John Huston
  • Producers: Hal B. Wallis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 5, 2010
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (713 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ZEQMH8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,539 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Maltese Falcon" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Again, Warner Bros. continues to rival other studios with their DVD releases of their classic movies. This time, they've pulled out all the stops for the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon, the film that practically invented the film noir genre. Although not as packed with bonus materials like some of their other previous Special Edition, they've still put enough material on here to use THREE discs. The set contains a cardboard slipcase packaging two slim DVD cases. Disc 1 is contained in the first case, and the second case contains discs 2 and 3. I won't go into detail on the movie, because I'm here to review the product itself, not the movie.

The first disc contains the 1941 film noir classic, with a newly restored digital transfer. Digital artifacting is minimal if existent. Some film artifacting, such as occasional slight shakiness is present, but for the most part, the transfer is clean and free from flaws. The audio is presented in its glorious original mono mix, which has been cleaned up for this new transfer. An audio commentary is included, but I have yet to listen to it. Also included is a bonus called Warner Night At The Movies, which allows you to view a gallery of short subjects before The Maltese Falcon - the way you would have in 1941. The short subjects included are informative and/or entertaining and even include a couple of short cartoons. But the restored movie is, of course, the main attraction - and what an attraction!

Disc 2 contains a nice surprise - the first two film versions of The Maltese Falcon! The first one is the pre-code 1931 version starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade and Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly. Although this first version is very similar to the 1941 version, it contains a bit more sexual innuendo and suggestive scenes.
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Format: DVD
The three-disc special edition of the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon contains some very interesting bonus features: the two previous adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's novel, the first also called The Maltese Falcon (though it was renamed Dangerous Female for TV in the '50s to avoid confusion), and the second titled Satan Met a Lady.

Since the 1941 version (directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre) is the one considered "definitive," it's not surprising that relatively few viewers realize that was actually Hollywood's third adaptation of Hammett's classic detective novel.

Satan Met a Lady (directed by William Dieterle and starring Bette Davis and Warren William), is by all accounts a disaster (a very loose adaptation by screenwriter Brown Holmes, who co-wrote this version), but the first Maltese Falcon, filmed in 1931 by director Roy del Ruth, is a terrific alternative for viewers who love the story and would just like to watch a different take on it. (Both films are faithful to the source, with few changes.)

The main difference in tone comes from Ricardo Cortez's portrayal of Sam Spade. Cortez's Spade is much more of a ladies man than Bogart's. In fact, the opening scene of the movie shows a woman leaving Spade's office, adjusting her stockings (later, he is shown picking up sofa cushions from the floor). His roving eye (and hand) also includes his secretary, Effie. Una Merkel plays Effie as if she's not only a willing participant in these shenanigans, but is also quite aware of Spade's other dalliances -- including partner Miles Archer's wife Iva (Thelma Todd) -- and thinks it's funny.

That lightness extends to Cortez, as well.
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Format: DVD
Sometimes with a movie everything turns out right. That was the case with this 1941 classic. John Huston's driectorial debut is a masterpiece of film noir, featuring a great performance by Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. Actually, the entire cast is fantastic from top to bottom, with standout performances from Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The story is a classic tale of greed, murder, and manipulation with some surprising plot twists (surprising if you haven't seen it already). THE MALTESE FALCON is one of those movies that you can watch over and over and find something new each time. The picture and sound quality are actually quite good for a film from 1941 as any flaws are minor and inconsequential. The DVD also features the original theatrical trailer, plus a special feature on trailers from Humphrey Bogart movies. This truly is a must-have! Add this DVD to your collection; you will be glad that you did!
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Format: VHS Tape
John Huston's directorial debut nails every single possible angle for a great movie: a great hero in Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade, here making a major transition from the gangster roles that made him famous; a great set of villains, from Sydney Greenstreet's ponderous Gutman to Peter Lorre's effeminate Joel Cairo to Elisha Cook's almost cartoonish gunman Wilmer; a great femme fatale in Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaunessy; a great hunt, in the quest for the fabled Maltese Falcon. Shot scene for scene out of the novel (with some notable cuts of extraneous material, such as a long story Sam tells Brigid while they're waiting, and Gutman's daughter!), "The Maltese Falcon" is utterly clean, economical film-making with no fat whatsoever (except for Gutman, of course). The movie creates a tense atmosphere from its opening shots, with ironic humor simply acting as counterpoint throughout. The final scenes of revelation, where Sam explains to Brigid his personal code of honor, are as emotionally devastating today as they were fifty years ago. The last shots of the movie, as Brigid descends in the elevator quickly to her fate, while Sam takes the stairs, suggests each character is heading to their own private hell, even if at different speeds. A brilliant movie!
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hilarious parody of this movie-The Maltese Falcon!
The Cheap Detective.
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