The key film in the Bogart myth (1941). I don't want to knock it, but what John Huston does with Bogart's personality and the hard-boiled genre in general has always struck me as pale compared to the Howard Hawks films that followed (To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep). The Maltese Falcon is really a triumph of casting and wonderfully suggestive character detail; the visual style, with its exaggerated vertical compositions, is striking but not particularly expressive, and its thematics are limited to intimations of absurdism (which, when they exploded in Beat the Devil, turned out to be fairly punk). But who can argue with Bogart's glower or Mary Astor in her ratty fur?
Director: John Huston
Writer: Dashiell Hammett and John Huston
Producer: Hal Wallis
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Gladys George, Barton MacLane, Sydney Greenstreet, Lee Patrick, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan, Elisha Cook Jr., James Burke, Murray Alper, John Hamilton, Walter Huston, Emory Parnell, Robert Homans and Creighton Hale