Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Maltese Falcon (1941) - ★★★★★

Director: John Huston
Writers: John Huston (Screenplay), Dashiell Hammett (Novels)
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Gladys George, Barton MacLane, Ward Bond, Elisha Cook Jr.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever seen the masterpiece that is The Maltese Falcon. I've seen a lot of classic films that are hyped up to be something better than they really are. This happens to be a film with a high reputation that is fully justified, and if anything, underrated. I'd give it a perfect 10/10. It has complex characters and simple characters, moments of sharp wit and dry humour, truly incredible cinematography, and a story that keeps you guessing and begging for more. I found myself utterly wrapped in the mystery of the missing maltese falcon statue. Truly, it was the whirlwind performances by Bogart, Astor, Lorre, and Greenstreet which made the movie as legendary as it is.

Private Detective Samuel Spade (Humphrey Bogart) is plunged into a dangerous tango of murder and thievery when he is asked to take on a case by the mysterious Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor). As stones are turned over and new facts come to light, we find that all of the trouble is over an extremely valuable possession. The Maltese Falcon statue.

I just adored the growing mystery and suspense in this film. Whether it be from introducing interesting new characters, or leading us down the wrong path, John Huston masterfully manipulates the audience into hanging on each new revelation.

Let me just say, this is the first movie I've ever seen where I thought Humphrey Bogart looked truly sexy. It was all in the way he talked, the way he walked, the way his mind worked, and of course, those piercing eyes. He had his youth here too, and damn it made for a handsome combination.

The most piercing eyes I've ever seen in a film. 
Everyone was a valuable player in this film, but for me Mary Astor stole the show. She played a very complex, unpredictable character and knocked it out of the park. There were moments where her masterful understanding of her character just blew me away. It was subtle at times, and quite powerful too. I can name many scenes where she just commanded the room. The most notable would be when she was in talks with Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), and she just man-handled him with such ease. She played a woman who was a master manipulator, with many different shades to her. It's hard to know if you ever see a glimpse of who she truly is.

Ahh, The Fat Man (Sydney Greenstreet). He's properly known as Mr. Gutman though, but I just love calling him The Fat Man. He gave one of the most iconic supporting roles in cinematic history here. I couldn't help but think,
"Greenstreet would be the perfect Bond villain." 
He was simply unforgettable. Along with Bogart and Lorre (who both star in Casablanca with him), these three just share such dynamic chemistry on screen. I could never imagine anyone playing this role better than he. He was both hilarious and intimidating, which made it all the more entertaining.

These four actors together on screen make for one of the best castings I've ever seen in a movie. The electricity between all four of them just crackles. Mary Astor deserved the Academy Award for Best Actress because of the complexity in her role, and the perfect way she carried it. She did win an Oscar that year for Supporting Actress in a film called The Great Lie. The mixture of sharp wit, intriguing mystery, masterful cinematography, and iconic performances make The Maltese Falcon a movie that will live on through all generations.

5 comments:

  1. I agree that Mary Astor steals the movie and should have been nominated for a best actress Oscar.

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