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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

RAW Movie Club: The Maltese Falcon


Thank you to Bobby Campbell for the illustration. 

The main thing I noticed when I watched "The Maltese Falcon"  (still available free on Tubi) was how fast moving it was, how everything seemed to be almost kind of abrupt. 

About 1:07 in, the captain of a boat comes staggering in to Sam Spade's office, carrying the Maltese falcon he apparently had promised to deliver. Humphrey Bogart's comment, "He couldn't have come far with those holes in him." It seems kind of absurd that someone shot several times would still make a delivery. But the movie has the quality, which I've  noticed in certain books, that things are moving so quickly you don't have time to think about whether the action makes sense. Lots of wisecracks and lots of unexpected twists and turns. 

The Wikipedia article on the film says that the movie originally was offered to George Raft, but it's difficult now to envision the movie without Bogart, who seems to be in pretty much every scene and dominates the film with his tough-but-decent persona. Mary Astor is a confused and confusing beautiful "bad girl." 

I'm a big fan of the 1942 movie "Casablanca," and it's interesting to see two of the actors from that movie (besides Bogart) show up in this one, Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet; as with Bogie, their characters here don't seem wildly dissimilar to their "Casablanca" characters. 

I'll select another movie from RAW's list of his favorite 100 movies and announce it as the new "RAW movie club" movie for July. I'll try to find something else that's available to everyone for free. 


Nick Helweg-Larsen said...

Another one that RAW wrote a Haiku about:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Here it is:

The Maltese Falcon

Seventeen long years
And God-knows-how-many murders
Chasing a lead dream

Bobby Campbell said...

I really enjoyed The Maltese Falcon! I thought I'd seen it before, but I think I must have confused it with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

It was especially nice to listen to while I was drawing. In fact, the production style felt kind of like a radio drama mixed with a stage play. A few simple static locations where people with cool voices said cool things. Always nice to see Peter Lorre! (Who I mostly know via his Looney Tunes caricature.)

The efficiency of the production values combined with the compressed storytelling really captured my imagination. This was a great movie by any era's standards and a group of talented artists could make something similar these days with basically no budget whatsoever. Limited palettes producing great art is an interesting phenomena.

I listed to the movie while redesigning Adam Weishaupt's Minerva insignia, so it was an owl not a falcon, but sacred birds are sacred birds I figure :)))

Also! The purported falcon statue prop from the movie sold in 2013 for 4.1 million dollars. So the fake statue in a fictional story accumulated the value of the "real" statue within that story.
That's one heck of a transmogrification!

Eric Wagner said...

In 1988 on my way to hear Robert Anton Wilson talk in an LA Masonic Lodge, I heard on the radio that the Knights of Malta had made Ronald Reagan an honorary member. The next day Bob had one of his Conspiracy Games. During the game Bob's imitation Maltese Falcon got destroyed by accident.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

"Limited palettes producing great art is an interesting phenomena."

I think a lot about whether "Twin Peaks" was particularly successful because David Lynch had to work with network constraints as opposed to using all of the sex and violence he wanted to.

Spookah said...

Although The Maltese Falcon (1941) was John Huston first film, it already was the third adaptation of Dashiell Hammett 1930 book, thus making the film itself a copy of a copy.
The first one came out in 1931 and, being pre-Code, supposedly is more sexually suggestive than the Huston movie, but I have not seen it myself.

Danny Peary in his fantastic book Cult Movies writes that "part of the reason this film has such a strong cult is that the story is so muddled that you can't remember from one viewing to the next exactly what happens - so it's always like new." I have seen the film twice already and would certainly agree.

I love the picture Bobby Campbell made, even though it looks as if it's a one-person movie club.

Bobby Campbell said...

I suppose that's true, Spookah!

It took me forever to find reference for the back of RAW's head :)))

I love the idea that the muddled story contributes to it's mystique