The Maltese Falcon (1931)

The Maltese Falcon




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This first of three film adaptations of Dashiel Hammett's The Maltese Falcon plays at times like the road-company version of the more famous 1941 John Huston/Humphrey Bogart adaptation. Ricardo Cortez stars as a slick, rogueish edition of Sam Spade, using his office as a trysting place for his various amours. Bebe Daniels plays the Brigid O'Shaughnessy character, here rechristened Ruth Wonderly. Ruth hires Spade and his partner Miles Archer (Walter Long) to locate her missing sister. Archer is … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Maude Fulton, Brown Holmes, Lucien Hubbard, Dashiell Hammett
In Theaters:


as Sam Spade

as Ruth Wonderly

as Casper Gutman

as Dr. Joel Cairo

as Iva Archer

as Effie Perrine

as Police Lt. Dundy

as District Attorney

as Miles Archer

as Wilmer Cook

as Captain Jacobi

as Joel Cairo
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Maltese Falcon

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Critic Reviews for The Maltese Falcon

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 10, 2004
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Dated grandpoppa of Bogart's classic is worth seeing to compare.

October 14, 2005

The original was a solid and enjoyable work.

Full Review… | November 23, 2003
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Surprisingly racy pre-code first version of the Hammett novel.

November 5, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for The Maltese Falcon


Better than "Satan Met a Lady" but not in the same league as the 1941 remake.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


Very faithful pre-code adaptation of Hammett's novel. The femme fatale, marvelously played by Bebe Daniels, sticks with the name Ruth Wonderly, rather than revealing that to be just an alias. There's also a prison scene at the end, since the romance between Ruth and Spade is played up more. Except for Dudley Digges not quite having the girth required for the character of Gutman (he looks and sounds like the model for Burgess Meredith's Penguin on the Batman TV series), I thought the cast was wonderful at bringing the characters from the book alive. Ricardo Cortez (who was Austrian and adopted this stage name during the Valentino mania of the silent era) is a suave womanizer. The subplot about Spade having an affair with his partner's wife isn't ignored like in the other adaptations and the sexual innuendo is closer to the source material than later films censored by the production code. The camera work is definitely not bland, too.

Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

The first film adaptation of Hammett's novel, but certainly not the best. As an early "talkie," this film had practically no atmosphere, and Sam Spade is played by Cortez as a leering, lecherous playboy with a boyish smile; there is none of the "tough guy" detective that Spade deserves to be. While it's a bit more risque than the 1941 Huston film due to its being filmed before the Production Code took effect, this film is really only of interest to those who might be interested in seeing how different directors tackle the same material (and how different they turn out). If you love this story, skip this film and see the Huston masterpiece.

Buddy A

Super Reviewer

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