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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 9/10
Reviews Counted: 46
Fresh: 46 | Rotten: 0

Suspenseful, labyrinthine, and brilliantly cast, The Maltese Falcon is one of the most influential noirs -- as well as a showcase for Humphrey Bogart at his finest.

100

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 0

Suspenseful, labyrinthine, and brilliantly cast, The Maltese Falcon is one of the most influential noirs -- as well as a showcase for Humphrey Bogart at his finest.

audience

92

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 55,960

My Rating

Movie Info

After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett's detective classic The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros. finally got it right in 1941--or, rather, John Huston, a long-established screenwriter making his directorial debut, got it right, simply by adhering as closely as possible to the original. Taking over from a recalcitrant George Raft, Humphrey Bogart achieved true stardom as Sam Spade, a hard-boiled San Francisco private eye who can be as unscrupulous as the next guy but also adheres to his

PG,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

John Huston

Feb 15, 2000

Warner Bros.

Watch It Now

Cast

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August 27, 2008:
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All Critics (46) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (0) | DVD (23)

The Maltese Falcon is the first crime melodrama with finish, speed and bang to come along in what seems ages.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Frighteningly good evidence that the British (Alfred Hitchcock, Carol Reed, et al.) have no monopoly on the technique of making mystery films.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Maltese Falcon is among the most important and influential movies to emerge from the Hollywood system -- as significant in some ways as its contemporary, Citizen Kane.

June 10, 2008 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is one of the best examples of actionful and suspenseful melodramatic story telling in cinematic form.

April 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Who can argue with Bogart's glower or Mary Astor in her ratty fur?

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Filmed almost entirely in interiors, it presents a claustrophobic world animated by betrayal, perversion and pain.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The stuff that dreams are made of," comments Spade about the elusive black bird of the title, a sentiment easily applied to this indisputable masterpiece.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

exceptionally crafted

January 18, 2014 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

It's the classic hardboiled private-eye movie; the nervy maiden offering of its celebrated director, John Huston; the first glamorous star vehicle for Humphrey Bogart...

May 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Immaculately designed, evocatively photographed, and easy to watch but also spiky, morally complex, and ultimately unsettling.

January 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

Excellent but too mature for the littlest kids.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

This Spade is no stranger to the guile of shady clients and colorful suspects...

October 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Seanax.com
Seanax.com

The film is made up almost entirely of talk, and yet the performances are so wonderfully flamboyant and focused that conversations become the action of the movie.

August 22, 2008

Perfect use of the old McGuffin.

January 19, 2008
ColeSmithey.com

With its dark, complex plotting, stark black-and-white photography, concentration on the baseness of man, and a cynical mood sustained to its still shockingly grim conclusion, this is the prototypical film noir.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

... part of what makes a film great is its power to obliterate whatever preconceptions we bring to it. There is brittle wit and sparkling harm and a very adult sense of fun present in The Maltese Falcon; it still works as a movie

September 9, 2007 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

sharp and jagged... stripped clean

October 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

If 'The Maltese Falcon' doesn't qualify as the best private-eye yarn ever filmed, I don't know what does.

October 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

One of the most brilliant directorial debuts in Hollywood's history, this gem of a movie catapulted Humphrey Bogart to major stardom, offering one of his finest roles (with many memorable lines) as detective Sam Spade.

September 7, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Bogart became Bogart in John Huston's great first film, a trend-setting, brilliantly cast adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's hardboiled novel ... This was the stuff that dreams -- and Hollywood -- was made of.

June 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

Audience Reviews for The Maltese Falcon

It is uneven, and dips in energy mid-way through, however the mystery and well-delivered one-liners make The Maltese Falcon a mostly enjoyable watch.
July 13, 2014
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

Bogart is perfect and in his best shape as an arrogant detective who tries (along with us) to make heads and tails of an extremely intricate and dizzy affair, and the best of it is that it is an incredibly well constructed plot in which all of the pieces fit in the end, with no loose ends.
July 4, 2014
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

A knockout dame walks into Sam Spade's office with what should be a simple job, but soon stiffs are turning up as an exotic cast of characters shows up, all looking for the fabulous Maltese Falcon. Quite possibly the greatest film noir movie; the principal cast is miraculously good, with Humphrey Bogart basically creating the cinematic private eye archetype out of cigarette smoke, whiskey, quick fists and quicker wits.
July 1, 2013
366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

John Huston's debut film is the third(!) adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's classic detective novel. Much like Ben-Hur, I had no idea that the classic that everyone raves about is a remake or at least not the first version.

Regardless, this is a great film, and it pretty much kick started the film noir subgenre. The film concerns private eye Sam Spade who gets caught up in a web of mystery, intrigue, and a valuable item when a lovely lady shows up at his office needing his services. From there the film becomes less about the plot and the statue of the title (it's a classic MacGuffin), and is instead a sharply written, wonderfully acted, and excellently paced character study where the focus is less on action, and more of a duel of wits.

The cinematography is elegant, evocative, and sets the mood perfectly. The music starts off kinda light and almost unfitting, but then comes around, saves itself, and adds to the tension and suspense. The acting is where the film really shines though, As Sam Spade, Humphrey Bogart stopped being a B-Level character player and became the A-List icon everyone knows and loves. Peter Lorre is good as the iffy and effeminate Joel Cairo, and Mary Astor makes for a terrific femme fatale, but it's Sydney Greenstreet, in his film debut as Kasper Gutman who really impresses, definitely making a solid impression, thanks in part to his intimidating build (guy must be at least 6 feet tall and weigh over 300 lbs).

All in all, this is a stirring and memorable caper that just cruises right along and, despite the twisty, turny nature of the plot, never becomes incomprehensible, and gets wrapped up nicely by the time the end credits roll. This one set a standard that is still influencing pop culture today, and definitely deserves to be seen.
May 22, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Sam Spade: You're not gonna go around the room straightening things and poking the fire again, are you?
    – Submitted by George P (8 months ago)
    1. Sam Spade: Put the pot on, will you angel. I don't like to leave our guests.
    – Submitted by John T (9 months ago)
    1. Sam Spade: When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. And it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it's-it's bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.
    – Submitted by John T (9 months ago)
    1. Kasper Gutman the Fat Man: I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it's possible to get another. There's only one Maltese Falcon.
    – Submitted by John T (9 months ago)
    1. Sam Spade: We didn't exactly believe your story, Miss O'Shaughnessy. We believed your 200 dollars. I mean, you paid us more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.
    – Submitted by John T (9 months ago)
    1. Joel Cairo: You will take say, $100.
    2. Sam Spade: No, I will take say $200.
    – Submitted by John T (9 months ago)
View all quotes (22)

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Foreign Titles

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  • The Maltese Falcon (UK)
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