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Dangerous Female (THE MALTESE FALCON)

3.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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(Sep 19, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

(1931-USA). With BEBE DANIELS, RICARDO CORTEZ, DUDLEY DIGGES, UNA MERKEL, THELMA TODD. Based on a novel by DASHIELL HAMMETT. Here is an extraordinary and rarely-seen movie classic that tells one of the most famous and beloved of all mystery stories. The setting is San Francisco, and the hero is Dashiell Hammets tough-as-nails private eye, Sam Spade (played with a perfect blend of charm and roughness by Ricardo Cortez). Spade is depicted as a dapper ladies man who is one-half of the Spade & Archer Detective Agency. One day, a gorgeous mystery woman who calls herself Miss Wonderly comes to Spades office. Her story is that her sister has run off with a man and she wishes to hire Spade & Archer to track down her sibling. That night, Archer is dispatched to spy on the man and promptly turns up dead. What follows is a thrilling drama involving murder and mayhem and a search by various colorful, but desperate characters for a "a certain ornament" that is a twelve-inch-high black enamel figure of a bird-otherwise known as "The Maltese Falcon." In the end, Spade must wade his way through a cesspool of deceit as he does all in his power to sort out the various frauds and fakers. There is snappy dialogue galore, some of it deliciously risqu . The result is a thrilling and endlessly fascinating "must-see" masterpiece. Highly recommended. 79 minutes.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bebe Daniels, RICARDO CORTEZ, DUDLEY DIGGES, UNA MERKEL, THELMA TODD
  • Directors: Roy Del Ruth
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Warner Bros
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2008
  • Run Time: 79 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GE2CG4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,205 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
In 1931 Roy Del Ruth became the first director to bring Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON to the screen. Although it received favorable reviews and did a brisk business at the box office, like many early talkies it was soon eclipsed by ever-advancing technology and forgotten--until television, with its endless demands for late-late show material, knocked on Hollywood's door. Retitled DANGEROUS FEMALE in order to avoid confusion with the highly celebrated 1941 version, it has haunted the airwaves ever since.
DANGEROUS FEMALE is interesting in several ways, and perhaps most deeply so as an example of the struggle that ensued when sound first roared. What had proven effective on the silent screen suddenly seemed highly mannered when voices were added, and both directors and stars struggled to find new techniques--and DANGEROUS FEMALE offers a very vision of the issues involved.
It is a myth that the advent of sound forced directors to lock down the camera, but it is true that many directors preferred simple camera set-ups in early sound films; it gave them one less thing to worry about. And with this film, Roy Del Ruth is no exception: in a visual sense, DANGEROUS FEMALE is fairly static. The performing decisions made by the various actors are also illustrative and informative, particularly re leads Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels. Cortez is still clearly performing in the "silent mode," and he reads as visually loud; Daniels, however, has elected to underplay, and while she is stiff by current standards, her performance must have seemed startlingly innovative at the time.
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I really like this version of the Maltese Falcon almost as much as the 1941 Bogart version. However, the print is terrible. However, you can get an excellent copy by buying the Bogart Signature Collection Volume II, along with Satan Met a Lady (a forgetable version of the Maltese Falcon!) and a bunch of other good Bogart classics!Humphrey Bogart - The Signature Collection, Vol. 2 (The Maltese Falcon Three-Disc Special Edition / Across the Pacific / Action in the North Atlantic / All Through the Night / Passage to Marseille)
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Well it is possible for even a devoted actor Humphrey Bogart and crime novelist Dashiell Hammett aficionado to learn something new. For many years I had assumed that the 1941 hard-nosed Bogie as Sam Spade version of The Maltese Falcon was the original screen version of Hammett's crime noir classic. Then an acquaintance, the old time radical journalist Josh Breslin whose by-line for half the progressive press and alternate vision journals in this country for the past forty years that some readers may know, informed me that an older version (or rather versions existed). That discovery however had to go unchecked until the age of the Internet. Now I have found the film via a very helpful lead from Wikipedia. Kudos.

Of course after reading Hammett's crime novel countless times (if for no other reason than that great dialogue even after the plot line wore thin) and viewing the 1941 Bogie version almost as many times certain prejudices were bound to show up. The key is the role of Sam Spade as the world weary scrappy avenger of his partner's murder while "in the line of duty". If for no other reason than for professional pride. And the well-known plot line, basically murder and mayhem by parties known and unknown searching for a bid, "the stuff of dreams," is what let's Sam save the day, his professional pride, and his roughhewn sense of justice.

The 1931 Spade (played by handsome Richard Cortez) is less concerned with those gritty issues, more brazenly cynical, and much more of a womanizer than Bogie's Spade (although he is not immune, temporality at least, to femme fatale charms). That as I found out was a result of the change in what was deemed acceptable to the general audience (the so-called Production Code).
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Format: DVD
Dangerous Female, 1931 film

The story begins with a view of the ferry terminals of San Francisco from Oakland to the east. [They were destroyed after the bridge to Oakland was built.] Next we see an aerial view of San Francisco, the banking capital on the west coast, circa 1931. Sam Spade sees off a client. Miss Ruth Wonderly enters, she wants to find her sister. Mrs. Archer calls Sam. Mr. Archer returns from his business trip, and listens in to a conversation. Miss Wonderly deposits two $100 bills (a huge amount then). Miles Archer will personally handle the investigation. Early in the morning Spade gets a surprise on the telephone. Archer was shot at close range. Later two police detectives visit him to question him about Floyd Thursby. In the morning Spade visits Miss Wonderly. She is very good. She talks about Thursby, and tells of her fear of death.

Back at the office Spade gets a visit from Dr. Cairo. He wants to recover a statuette of a black bird. Cairo pulls a gun. Who is the owner? Cairo will pay for its return. Who is the high bidder? The police come by, and find Miss Wonderly and Dr. Cairo in Spade's apartment. Cairo leaves with the two police detectives. Spade plays a record on a phonograph. [Note the Westclox Baby Ben set for 10 o'clock.] Spade inspects Miss Wonderly's purse and finds a key. Spade tosses Ruth's apartment while she sleeps. Back home Sam gets a surprise visit from Iva Archer. Next a letter from Kasper Gutman about "the black bird". Note his sleazy character. He tells about the Knights of St. John and their Maltese falcon. Gutman traced this statuette, and offers to pay for it. "It's a deal!" "I'll be right back." Gutman talks to Cairo, they no longer need Spade to get the black bird. Spade sniffs his drink, then falls asleep.
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