Friday, April 12, 2013

Film Noir Week : The Maltese Falcon

Well hello there boys and girls and welcome to Day 5 of Film Noir Week and of course we go out with a bang.   Very few are aware of the predecessor in 1931 starring Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez but I am certain several know the 1941 classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Mary Astor and Peter Lorre.   So roll me a snipe, keep watch out dat window and have the rod at the ready.   This is The Maltese Falcon.

By gads sir, you are a spade and I am calling it such.

Spoilers take slaps and like it!

Private Eyes Spade and Archer have a corner office in an otherwise respectable neighborhood in an unrespectable business. Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart of A Devil with Women, Big City Blues, The Petrifed Forest, To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep) takes a meeting with a babe in the woods, Miss Wanderly (Mary Astor of No Time to Marry, Midnight, Listen Darling, Meet Me in St. Louis and Desert Fury) worried over her missing sister with a bum name of Thrusby, pointing out that he is a dangerous man and not to be trifled with but our boys assure her all the way they can handle it.  

*looks at Archer* NOT IT!

Spade gets a call at night to come to a crime scene.  He patters down only to find his partner at the bottom of a hill with one slug in him.  Next thing he knows is the cops are grilling him for info.  What was his partner after; who did he work for and so on.  Detective Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond of Night Key, Topper, Dead End, 3 Godfathers, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Searchers and Wagon Train) takes a softball approach with Spade and offer an olive branch rather than his hardnosed and hard headed Lieutenant’s approach of hoist him in for questioning and sweat him under a lamp, possibly plant a weapon on him with a bottle of rye. 

 Spade is back trailing Miss Wanderly who shock and gasp turns out to be Miss O’ Shaughnessy and she fields more than a few questions on what she is chasing and what has scared he like a rabbit in a hole.   Three other such criminals are also after said item, a black bird statue.  Thrusby once worked with Shaughnessy but he decided to cut her out of the action and strike out on her own.  While Sam is back in the office a gentleman name of Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre of M, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Casablanca, My Favorite Brunette and Quicksand) first holds him at gunpoint and attempts to search his office, Sam chuckles and makes short work of the little triggerman. 

Colt .45 gets 'em every time.

All this cloak and dagger leads back to a larger gentleman name of Gutman (Sydney Greentstreet of They Died with Their Boots On, In This Our Life, Casablanca, Background to Danger and Passage to Marseille) who has spent 17 years tracking the black bird from royalty to privateer to private collector.  The bird is said to be a gift to King Charles the 5th of Spain, and the bird has enamel over it to conceal riches that is embedded within.   The chase is on and who will get the bird and who will be holding the bag?