The Maltese Falcon is a 1931 American pre-Code crime film, based on the 1930 novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and directed by Roy Del Ruth. The film stars Ricardo Cortez as private detective Sam Spade and Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly. Maude Fulton, Brown Holmes, and Lucien Hubbard (who went uncredited) wrote the screenplay. The supporting cast features Dudley Digges, Thelma Todd, Walter Long, Una Merkel, and Dwight Frye.

A print has been held by the Library of Congress since the 1970s.

Plot

In San Francisco, private investigator Sam Spade (Ricardo Cortez) and his partner Miles Archer (Walter Long) are approached by Ruth Wonderly (Bebe Daniels) to follow a man, Floyd Thursby, who allegedly ran off with her younger sister. The two accept the assignment because the money is good, even though they disbelieve her story.

Late that night, police detective Tom Polhaus (J. Farrell MacDonald) informs Spade that Archer has been shot and killed while tailing Thursby, but Spade turns down the opportunity to examine the body at the scene. As he is leaving, he has a brief conversation in Chinese with a man loitering in a doorway. Later, Polhaus and his superior, Lt. Dundy (Robert Elliott), visit Spade at his apartment. Thursby has been killed, and they want to know where Spade has been in the last few hours—they suspect him of killing Thursby to avenge the death of his partner. With no real evidence against Spade, they leave.

The next day, Spade calls on Ruth Wonderly in an attempt to find out her real reasons for hiring them. She uses several different ploys to keep Spade on the case in spite of the two murders, but Spade sees through them. Despite this, he gets only a little information from her: Thursby was her accomplice whom she no longer trusted, and she feels she is in danger—but she will not tell Spade what she and Thursby were trying to pull off. Frustrated, Spade begins to leave, but then thinks better of it. He takes $500 from Wonderly, supposedly the last of her money, and goes.

At the office, Spade tells his secretary, Effie (Una Merkel) to have Archer's name removed from the door, and he receives a visit from a Dr. Joel Cairo (Otto Matieson), who offers Spade $5,000 if he can retrieve an enamel figurine of a black bird that he is trying to recover for the "rightful owner". Not knowing anything about this statuette, Spade plays along, overpowering Cairo when he pulls a gun and attempts to frisk him and search the office. Nevertheless, he agrees to try to recover the statuette.

That night, at his apartment, Spade questions Wonderly about Cairo and the black bird. Nervous about Cairo's offer and afraid of losing Spade's help, she begins to attempt to seduce him, but is interrupted when Dundy and Polhaus arrive. Spade keeps them outside the door as they question him about his relationship with Archer's wife, Iva (Thelma Todd), with whom Spade has been having an affair. They are about to leave when Wonderly screams, and they rush in to find her holding a gun on Cairo. Spade laughs the incident off with a preposterous story which nonetheless gets the police to leave, with Cairo in tow, allowing Spade and Wonderly to continue their "interrogation". The next morning, as Wonderly sleeps in his bed, Spade lifts her key and thoroughly searches her apartment, finding nothing. Returning to his own place, Spade gets a visit from Iva Archer. Spade tries to get rid of her, but she sees Wonderly in the bedroom doorway and leaves in a huff, threatening to tell everything she knows to Lt. Dundy.

Spade receives a note from Casper Gutman (Dudley Digges), inviting him to come and talk about the black bird. Over drinks and cigars, Spade learns the history and value of the statuette, which is encrusted with precious jewels covered over with enamel, and that Gutman is the mastermind behind the attempt to steal the bird. Spade lies to Gutman that "for the right price" he can deliver the figurine in a couple of days, and they make a deal which Gutman seals with a $1000 bill. Just then, Cairo arrives and tells Gutman privately that Spade does not have the falcon, that Captain Jacoby (Agostino Borgato), whose ship La Paloma arrives from Hong Kong that night, does. Gutman then slips Spade a mickey in a celebratory drink, and retrieves his $1000.

Later that night, Spade arrives back in his office, where he finds Effie asleep behind his desk. Suddenly, a man staggers in, collapses to the floor and dies—it is Captain Jacoby, having been shot several times. The suitcase he was carrying has the precious black bird in it. Spade checks the bag at a baggage check and sends himself the ticket in the mail. Called in to see the District Attorney (Morgan Wallace) because of what Iva has been telling the police, Spade stonewalls them, and is given 24 hours to wrap up the case and bring in the real killers.

Wonderly lures Spade into his apartment, where Cairo and Gutman are waiting for him with guns. Knowing that Spade has the falcon, Gutman gives him ten $1,000 bills in an envelope, but Spade insists there also has to be a "fall guy" to give the police to account for the murders (Archer, Thursby and Jacoby), and suggests Gutman's gunman, Wilmer Cook (Dwight Frye), as the patsy. Gutman rejects this idea, and Spade then puts forward Cairo as a candidate. Cairo counters that Spade has been paid and should bring forward the bird, and they all settle in to wait for the morning, when Spade says he can produce it. As Wonderly leaves to make coffee and sandwiches, Gutman accuses her of stealing one of the bills from the envelope, prompting Spade to have her strip. When he finds she does not have the bill on her, he accuses Gutman of palming it, which Gutman admits.

Now having the upper hand, Spade tells Gutman that Wilmer will be the fall guy, which Cairo and Gutman discuss in a whispered conference. Goaded by Spade, Wilmer pulls his gun, Spade knocks him out—and Gutman and Cairo agree to Spade's proposal. After Spade calls Effie and asks her to pick up the suitcase with the falcon in the morning and bring it to them, Gutman explains to him how Wilmer killed Thursby and Jacoby. When the bag shows up, Wilmer escapes out the window while the conspirators are frantically opening it and examining the black bird. They soon determine that it is a fake—they have been duped by the previous owner—and Gutman and Cairo decide to make another attempt to steal it. As they leave, Gutman takes back his $10,000 from Spade at gunpoint.

Spade immediately calls Detective Polhaus and tells him to pick up Gutman, Cairo and Wilmer: he will provide Wilmer's guns as evidence. Confronting Wonderly, Spade accuses her of killing Archer to throw suspicion on Thursby and get him out of the way. She admits it, and Spade tells her that he is going to turn her in for the murder, despite their love for each other.

When Dundy and Polhaus show up, they reveal that Wilmer shot Gutman and Cairo dead before being apprehended. Spade gives them Wilmer's guns, tells them that Wonderly killed Archer, and they take her away. We then learn from a newspaper article that Spade "caused a sensation at [Wonderly's] trial when he produced Lee Fu Gow, Chinese merchant, the only eye-witness to the Archer killing, who positively identified Miss Wonderly as the murderess". Spade goes to visit Wonderly in prison to tell her that he has been made Chief Investigator for the District Attorney's office. Spade instructs the prison matron (played by Lucille Ward) to treat Wonderly well and give her whatever she wants. When the matron asks who will pay for the special treatment, Spade tells her to send the bill to the D.A.'s office: "I'll OK it."

Cast

  • Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly
  • Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade
  • Dudley Digges as Casper Gutman
  • Una Merkel as Effie Perine
  • Robert Elliott as Detective Lieutenant Dundy
  • Thelma Todd as Iva Archer
  • Otto Matieson as Dr. Joel Cairo
  • Walter Long as Miles Archer
  • Dwight Frye as Wilmer Cook
  • J. Farrell MacDonald as Detective Sergeant Tom Polhaus
  • Agostino Borgato as Capt. John Jacobi (uncredited)
  • Morgan Wallace as District Attorney (uncredited)

Production

The Maltese Falcon was not the first Hammett story to be adapted into a motion picture. Both Red Harvest (filmed in 1930 as Roadhouse Nights) and City Streets (1931), based on a short story and starring Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sidney, preceded it.

Working titles for the film were All Women, A Woman of the World and Dangerous Female. Some scenes in the film were shot on location in San Francisco.

Pre-Code aspects

The film closely follows the plot of the book. The 1941 adaptation, which began with a revised version of the 1931 script, closely follows the book as well, although most references to homosexuality, stripping (the missing $1000) and other no longer permissible portions under the Motion Picture Production Code are missing. The dialogue for both films is often taken directly from the novel, verbatim. Differences between the two films are due almost wholly to pre-Code aspects of the earlier film.

In addition to an overall lighter tone and looser pace, the 1931 film contains sexually suggestive situations. In the opening scene, an unidentified woman is shown straightening her stockings as she leaves Spade's office. Miss Wonderly (Bebe Daniels) is shown bathing, and later in the film is strip-searched by Spade over missing money. The 1931 film does not shy away from homosexual themes: Wilmer is called Gutman's "boyfriend". The homosexual subtext regarding Gutman, Cairo and Wilmer is abundant in Hammett's original story. Effie facetiously describes Cairo to Spade as "gorgeous". Spade taunts Dundy by constantly referring to him as "sweetheart", "darling", and "precious". All of those terms are absent in the dialogue of the better-known 1941 version.

Censorship and other film versions

Warner Bros. in 1936 attempted to re-release the film, but were denied approval by the Production Code Office owing to the film's "lewd" content. For several decades, unedited copies of the film could not be seen in the United States. This prompted Warner Bros. to produce a new version of the film, Satan Met a Lady, starring Bette Davis and Warren William directed by William Dieterle in 1936. Many elements of the story were changed, and the film was given a comedic tone. Nevertheless, it received mixed or negative reviews. Davis referred to the film as "junk". In 1941, the best-known version starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor was released.

Once restrictions were lifted from showing this film sometime after 1966, the film was retitled Dangerous Female for U.S. television in order to avoid confusion with the 1941 remake, which had previously been the only version available by the original name. These films were followed by other adaptations and parodies, including the 1975 comedy-sequel The Black Bird, in which George Segal portrays Sam Spade Jr., who inherits his father's agency.

Gallery

Trivia

References

External links


Wikipedia
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at The Maltese Falcon (1931_film). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.


v - e - d
Warner Bros. Pictures 2019.png
1910s
1916: Robinson Crusoe

1918: My Four Years in Germany · Kaiser's Finish
1919: Open Your Eyes · Beware! · Speed

1920s
1920: The Tiger Band · The Lost City · Parted Curtains

1921: Miracles of the Jungle · School Days · Why Girls Leave Home · Ashamed of Parents
1922: Your Best Friend · Rags to Riches · A Dangerous Adventure · The Beautiful and Damned · Heroes of the Street
1923: Brass · The Tie That Binds · Little Church Around the Corner · Main Street · Where the North Begins · Little Johnny Jones · The Printer's Devil · The Gold Diggers · The Country Kid · Lucretia Lombard · Tiger Rose
1924: Conductor 1492 · George Washington Jr. · Daddies · The Marriage Circle · Beau Brummel · How to Educate a Wife · Broadway After Dark · Babbitt · Being Respectable · Her Marriage Vow · Cornered · Lover's Lane · The Tenth Woman · Find Your Man · Three Women · This Woman · The Age of Innocence · The Lover of Camille · The Dark Swan · The Lighthouse by the Sea · A Lost Lady
1925: The Bridge of Sighs · The Narrow Street · On Thin Ice · A Broadway Butterfly · Recompense · My Wife and I · The Man Without a Conscience · Eve's Lover · Tracked in the Snow Country · How Baxter Butted In · Kiss Me Again · The Woman Hater · The Limited Mail · The Wife Who Wasn't Wanted · His Majesty, Bunker Bean · Below the Line · The Man on the Box · Compromise · Bobbed Hair · Red Hot Tires · Seven Sinners · Satan in Sables · Rose of the World · The Clash of the Wolves · Three Weeks in Paris · Hogan's Alley · Pleasure Buyers · Lady Windermere's Fan
1926: The Fighting Edge · His Jazz Bride · The Sea Beast · The Man Upstairs · The Golden Cocoon · The Caveman · The Love Toy · Bride of the Storm · The Night Cry · Why Girls Go Back Home · The Little Irish Girl · Oh! What a Nurse! · The Gilded Highway · Other Women's Husbands · The Sap · Hell-Bent for Heaven · Silken Shackles · The Social Highwayman · Footloose Widows · The Passionate Quest · A Hero of the Big Snows · So This Is Paris · Don Juan · Broken Hearts of Hollywood · The Honeymoon Express · Millionaires · Across the Pacific · My Official Wife · The Better 'Ole · Private Izzy Murphy · While London Sleeps · The Third Degree
1927: Finger Prints · Wolf's Clothing · The Fortune Hunter · Don't Tell the Wife · Hills of Kentucky · The Gay Old Bird · White Flannels · What Every Girl Should Know · Matinee Ladies · Bitter Apples · The Brute · Tracked by the Police · The Climbers · Irish Hearts · The Missing Link · A Million Bid · Simple Sis · The Black Diamond Express · Dearie · What Happened to Father? · The Heart of Maryland · The Bush Leaguer · When a Man Loves · The Desired Woman · Slightly Used · Old San Francisco · Jaws of Steel · One-Round Hogan · The First Auto · A Sailor's Sweetheart · The Jazz Singer · Sailor Izzy Murphy · The College Widow · A Reno Divorce · A Dog of the Regiment · Good Time Charley · The Silver Slave · The Girl from Chicago · Ginsberg the Great · Brass Knuckles · If I Were Single · Ham and Eggs at the Front · Husbands for Rent
1928: Beware of Married Men · A Race for Life · The Little Snob · Across the Atlantic · Powder My Back · Tenderloin · Domestic Troubles · The Crimson City · Rinty of the Desert · Glorious Betsy · Pay as You Enter · The Lion And The Mouse · Five and Ten Cent Annie · Lights of New York · Women They Talk About · Caught in the Fog · State Street Sadie · The Midnight Taxi · The Terror · Night Watch · Waterfront · The Singing Fool · Show Girl · Do Your Duty · Land of the Silver Fox · Lilac Time · Beware of Bachelors · Noah's Ark · The Home Towners · The Haunted House · Outcast · On Trial · Adoration · The Little Wildcat · The Barker · My Man · Conquest · The Ware Case
1929: Synthetic Sin · Cheyenne · Scarlet Seas · Fancy Baggage · Seven Footprints to Satan · Stark Mad · His Captive Woman · The Greyhound Limited · The Million Dollar Collar · Weary River · The Redeeming Sin · The Lawless Legion · The Royal Rider · Stolen Kisses · Why Be Good? · Children of the Ritz · Saturday's Children · One Stolen Night · Kid Gloves · Queen of the Night Clubs · Love and the Devil · Hardboiled Rose · The Divine Lady · No Defense · The Desert Song · Sonny Boy · Frozen River · From Headquarters · House of Horror · Glad Rag Doll · Hot Stuff · The Squall · Two Weeks Off · Prisoners · The Flying Scotsman · Careers · Madonna of Avenue A · The Girl in the Glass Cage · The Gamblers · Broadway Babies · The Man and the Moment · The Time, The Place And The Girl · On with the Show · Twin Beds · Drag · Smiling Irish Eyes · Hard to Get · The Hottentot · Dark Streets · The Argyle Case · Say It with Songs · Her Private Life · Gold Diggers of Broadway · Honky Tonk · In the Headlines · Fast Life · Skin Deep · Hearts in Exile · The Careless Age · The Great Divide · A Most Immoral Lady · The Isle of Lost Ships · So Long Letty · Is Everybody Happy? · Young Nowheres · The Girl from Woolworth's · Disraeli · Paris · Footlights and Fools · The Sap · The Forward Pass · Little Johnny Jones · The Sacred Flame · The Painted Angel · Evidence · The Love Racket · The Aviator · Tiger Rose · The Show of Shows · Wedding Rings

1930s
1931: The Maltese Falcon

1935: Captain Blood
1938: Angels with Dirty Faces · The Adventures of Robin Hood
1939: Dark Victory · The Wizard of Oz · Gone with the Wind

1940s
1941: The Maltese Falcon

1942: The Man Who Came to Dinner · Yankee Doodle Dandy · Casablanca
1944: Arsenic and Old Lace · To Have and Have Not · Meet Me in St. Louis
1946: The Big Sleep
1947: Dark Passage
1948: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre · Key Largo
1949: White Heat · The Fountainhead

1950s
1951: A Streetcar Named Desire · An American in Paris

1952: Singin' in the Rain
1955: Rebel Without a Cause

1960s
1964: The Incredible Mr. Limpet · My Fair Lady
1970s
1971: The Priest's Wife

1974: Blazing Saddles
1977: The Late Show · Brothers · Viva Knievel! · Exorcist II: The Heretic · One on One · Greased Lightning · Outlaw Blues · Bobby Deerfield · Oh, God! · A Piece of the Action · Starship Invasions · The Pack · The Goodbye Girl · The Gauntlet

1980s
1980 Just Tell Me What You Want · Simon · The Ninth Configuration · When Time Ran Out · Tom Horn · Gilda Live · Die Laughing · Heart Beat · Friday the 13th · The Shining · Up the Academy · Bronco Billy · No Nukes · Honeysuckle Rose · Caddyshack · The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu · The Big Brawl · AC/DC: Let There Be Rock · Divine Madness · The First Deadly Sin · One Trick Pony · Oh, God! Book II · Private Benjamin · The Awakening · Any Which Way You Can · First Family · Altered States

1981 The Man Who Saw Tomorrow · Sphinx · Back Roads · Eyes of a Stranger · This Is Elvis · Excalibur · The Hand · Outland · Superman II · Arthur · Wolfen · Under the Rainbow · Prince of the City · Body Heat · So Fine · Chariots of Fire · Looker · The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie · Rollover · Sharky's Machine ·

1990s
2000s
2010s
2020s
Upcoming
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.