Monday, September 13, 2010

Capsule Review: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Despite coming out the same year as Citizen Kane, John Huston's feature debut The Maltese Falcon doesn't often get as much credit for some of the same revolutionary features as Welles' film, such as the use of expressionist lighting (inspired by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and others), or the use of low angles which showed of the ceilings of the many indoor sets. However it does (rightfully) get credit for ushering in Film Noir and launching the careers of it's note-perfect cast, including Humphrey Bogart (who was already a name, but not yet the romantic lead he would become), Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Adapted from the detective novel by Dashiell Hammett, the film's plot is rather difficult to follow, but is performed so perfectly - with Huston's assured (and prepared) hand leading the way - that it never gets frustrating to watch. Perhaps the perfect detective film, and featuring the prototypical MacGuffin in the titular falcon.

2 comments:

Will Errickson said...

Nice comparison to CITIZEN KANE! Although this is indeed a classic, I think I prefer THE BIG SLEEP from 5 years later. Still, an essential movie.

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