The Maltese Falcon

BBFC RatingThe Maltese Falcon

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CertificatePG
Year1941
GenreCrime, Mystery
DirectorJohn Huston
WritersJohn Huston
LanguageEnglish
CountryUSA
Running Time1HR 41MINS
SeasonMain Programme

Back on the big screen to mark its 80th anniversary, The Maltese Falcon is John Huston’s adaptation of the classic crime novel that helped set the template for the film noir genre, featuring many memorable performances, including a star making turn from Humphrey Bogart.

Adapted from Dashiell Hammett’s novel about a San Francisco detective’s investigations into the murder of his business partner, Huston’s snappily witty script retains the plot’s labyrinthine complexity while revelling in colourful characterisations of the villains Spade encounters during his quest. Inspired casting included Peter Lorre (M, Casablanca) as volatile Joel Cairo, Sydney Greenstreet (Across the Pacific, Casablanca) as menacingly amiable Kasper Gutman, and Elisha Cook Jr. (The Big Sleep, The Killing) as his gunman. But it is the fraught, febrile relationship between Bogart’s Spade and Mary Astor’s femme fatale – who persuaded his partner to take on her case – that shapes the deep, dark core of desire, doubt and duplicity pervading the film from beginning to memorable end.

- Geoff Andrew, BFI programmer-at-large

"An almost perfect visual equivalent of the Dashiell Hammett thriller...It is (and this is rare in American films) a work of entertainment that is yet so skillfully constructed that after many years and many viewings it has the same brittle explosiveness - and even some of the same surprise - that it had in its first run." - Pauline Kael

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