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noir basics: the maltese falcon.


A PRIVATE DECTIVE. CIGARETTE SMOKE. A MYSTERIOUS STATUE.

THE MALTESE FALCON.
DIR. JOHN HUSTON.
NINETEEN-FORTY ONE.
STUDIO: WARNER BROTHERS.
RELEASE DATE (NY): OCTOBER 3RD.

The story follows a San Francisco private detective and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a falcon statuette.


The Maltese Falcon was a film-noir before the term film-noir existed. French for "black film" or more fitting "dark-film". Though, depending on which film historian or self-proclaimed one you ask, The Maltese Falcon is not the first noir, it is still regarded as the first produced by a major studio. It is also a significant film because it was the first time John Huston (director) and Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade) worked together. It is still regarded as the most iconic and memorable collaborations in film history. It is also the third adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel, which was unusual for the time and had been adopted less than ten years prior.

John Huston's directorial debut seemed odd at the time of production, two other Maltese Falcons had been made before. The difference between the three films was Huston. His script would be a direct translation of the novel as the others were simple loose adaptions, thus creating a solid visual film of the novel itself. The novel, though I have not read it (yet) has been described as compelling, but as a film, it is even more so. This is helped by the cinematography that it attributed to a noir's success and style: cigarette smoke through a window, white rain on slick black pavement, a detective's office crowded with papers and rolled up sleeves, sometimes uncentered shots. Huston's camerawork and aid by Cinematographer Arthur Edeson, the film becomes a canvas of smoke, contrast, and unnerved shadow.

The plot unfolds beautifully. A masterwork, there is no other way to address it. It's twisted in layers and works without a flaw throughout the whole film. Like the film's main character, I couldn't predict the next move. This and the iconic characters that overflow the screen, to the smooth unfolding plot that centers our unforgettable criminals creates an undeniable start to the film noir and even the reigning king that is compared countless times a decade others of this genre, and always to Bogart's career-defining performance.


Humphrey Bogart's performance is still studied today by actors, directors, and film historians. He saw the potential in the character. A fast-talking, non-sugar-coated, cold-hearted detective, who walks through the film with bemused sadism, without the cliche that could have painted this character over. This is Bogart's film, without question, though his supporting cast is also untouchable. Spade's Secretary, a no-nonsense character played without missing a beat, by Lee Patrick. The femme fatale is a staple character within smoke-filled noirs, played by Mary Astor, the manipulator. Villains, villains, and more complex villains: Joel Cairo played by Peter Lorre if you don't know him, get to that (your welcome) and theater veteran Sydney Greenstreet, who makes his screen debut at the age of the sixty-two, dominates each scene he has with Bogart, going toe-to-toe with the detective and Lorre.


THE TRAILER:



BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTOGRAPH:


ABOUT THE FALCON STATUE:

"What is it?"
"The stuff that dreams are made of."
"Huh."
- A cop asking Sam Spade about the Maltese Falcon in the final scene.

The sought-after prop from the film has been the most talked about, with its million-dollar price tag and countless reproductions. It was lost for decades, with film buffs and collectors praying for it's resurfaced. It did in the nineteen-eighties, strangely enough, in the hands of an oral surgeon from Beverly Hills. Then it began it's travel, starting in nineteen-ninety-one, as it traveled the world. It was offered for sale in two-thousand and thirteen, with talk of the price going into the million or more, it was a surprise to almost everyone when the highest bidder, who was competing with another bidder, via telephone, drove the price higher than three million.

It became one of the highest-paid pieces of film memorabilia, with the bidder on the telephone winning at 4.1 million dollars.


That is the simplest and most official version of the statue, but it is one chapter in this real-life mystery, as several more statues have surfaced. I recommend reading this article by Vanity Fair if it interests you, I'm sure it will. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/02/mystery-of-the-maltese-falcon

PLAYLIST:


one. lili marleen, marlene dietrich.
two. no other love, jo stafford, paul weston, and his orchestra.
three. smoke gets in you eyes, jo stafford.
four. fever, peggy lee, bo norberg, robert norberg.
five. a portait of jennie.

six. time after time, margaret whiting.
seven. someone to watch over me, elle fitzgerald.
eight. smoke dreams, jo stafford.
nine. nice girls don't stay for breakfast, julie london.
ten. my foolish heart, margaret whiting.
eleven. in the still of the night, jo stafford.
twelve. secret love, doris day.
thirteen. mad about the boy, helen forrest.

WHO IS THIS MAN?
HE MAKES CRIME A CAREER AND LADIES A HOBBY! HE'S AS FAST ON THE DRAW, AS HE IS IN THE DRAWING ROOM. HUMPHREY BOGART, AS THE MOST RUTHLESS LOVER YOU'VE EVER MET! 


COLLAGE MADE BY ME.


R.