THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941): pade and Archer is the name of a San Francisco detective agency. That’s for Sam Spade and Miles Archer. The two men are partners, but Sam doesn’t like Miles much. A knockout, who goes by the name of Miss Wanderly, walks into their office; and by that night everything’s changed. Miles is dead. And so is a man named Floyd Thursby. It seems Miss Wanderly is surrounded by dangerous men. There’s Joel Cairo, who uses gardenia-scented calling cards. There’s Kasper Gutman, with his enormous girth and feigned civility. Her only hope of protection comes from Sam, who is suspected by the police of one or the other murder. More murders are yet to come, and it will all be because of these dangerous men — and their lust for a statuette of a bird: the Maltese Falcon. George Raft was originally cast as Sam Spade. He turned it down because it was “not an important picture,” taking advantage of a clause in his contract that said he did not have to work on remakes. However, according to the author John McCarty, author of The Films of John Huston, in an ICONS Radio interview (10-07-07) the real reason Raft bowed out was because a successful screenwriter, John Huston, was going to direct his first movie. Raft didn’t want to trust his part to this neophyte director. Two “Maltese Falcons” were used for the film because Humphrey Bogart dropped the original during shooting. The original falcon is on display in the movie museum at Warner Bros. studios; its tail feathers are visibly dented from Bogey’s flub sixty years ago. Filming was completed in two months at a cost of less than $300,000. At 357 pounds, 60-year-old British newcomer Sydney Greenstreet was so large that the studio had to specially manufacture his entire wardrobe for the role of Kasper Gutman. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #31 Greatest Movie of All Time. When Warner Brothers saw how successful the film was, the studio decided to produce a sequel. Director John Huston had written the script for the sequel, which was to be titled ‘Three Strangers’. The film was supposed to contain many of the primary characters from The Maltese Falcon, specifically Sam Spade. Before the film reached production; however, Dashiell Hammett informed Warner Brothers that he owned the rights to the characters in The Maltese Falcon and even though the studio had purchased the rights to novel, it did not own the rights to the characters in the novel. The sequel was never made; but, John Huston’s script for Three Strangers was eventually filmed. Although the characters differed from The Maltese Falcon, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet both appeared in the film.

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