The Maltese Falcon is the third film I’d already seen entering noir month, so no surprises here one way or the other.
So much of the time, when people are paying homage to, parodying, or mimicking film noir, this is the film they are mimicking. The film opens in San Francisco, on Bogart, who plays Sam Spade, a private detective. His secretary comes in and lets him know there is “a knockout” in the waiting room. In comes our femme fatale, who gives our private eye a sob story about a sister who ran away from home with a man, a man she needs Spade and his partner Archer to follow. It’s not long before murder breaks out, mystery unfurls, and a group of seedy characters all wind up in a race to find a precious historical artifact: The Maltese Falcon. The falcon is really a bit of a MacGuffin, but there’s nothing wrong with that when done responsibly. The characters circling around the MacGuffin make sense, albeit in a slightly cartoonish way quite common in the 40’s, even in noir.
The movie starts off alright, but grows more enjoyable as the minutes pass and the story unfolds. Not my favorite noir, but still a wonderful example of the genre. Obviously there is a reason I chose to watch it for a second time.
As a bonus, several cast members from Casablanca appear as major players in this film as well. If only they could have brought Ingrid Bergman with them.