Saturday, October 14, 2006


I recently bought the new DVD version of the 1941 movie, The Maltese Falcon. Directed by first-timer John Huston and starring Bogart. This is a totally cool movie. It is one of the rare films that if you’ve seen the movie, you don’t need to read the book. However you’d miss Hammett’s clean and lean prose if you do. While Bogie doesn’t fit Hammett’s description of Sam Spade (He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.), he ably fills the shoes of the private detective. The plot has solid twists and turns and the dialogue is sharp and cool. Add memorable characters played Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, and Ward Bond and you have a great film that has influenced film noir for generations. Trivia: Bogart’s last line is often listed as one of the great closing lines of cinema. When Bond’s policeman asks Bogie what the black bird statue is, Bogie replies cynically, “The stuff dreams are made of.” Actually, Bond has the last word. He says, “Huh?”
This is my second favorite Bogart film. My top five are:

The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep
Angels with Dirty Faces
(this counts but Cagney is the actual lead)
There have been a lot of detectives in film and TV. I decided to list my favorite private detectives. No police detectives in this list. Some are former cops however. In alphabetical order:

Nick Charles (William Powell)
Jake Gittes (Chinatown)
Lew Harper (Harper)
Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone)
Thomas Magnum (Magnum, P.I.)
Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep)
Jim Rockford (The Rockford Files)
Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon)
Sidebar: I noticed while making my list that there were no female private eyes. Hmmm… Miss Marple from the Agatha Christie novels? Nope. Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) from Murder, She Wrote. Naw. Honey West (Anne Francis). No again. Oh, well.

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