From the great Premium Collection, a series that releases the best films from cinema past and present comes this film noir masterpiece. Now actually it would be better to say stand out genre film or should I say THE film noir to judge all others by. John Huston writes and directs, Bogart stars and shines, Gregg Toland crafts deep focus visual joy and well the rest as they say is film lore. Based on London born Dashiell Hammett’s elusive detective. When Sam Spade (Bogart) a tough and rough private detective. He has seen it all and with his partner, Miles Archer has made a name for himself solving crimes. When Archer is murdered while investigating the case of a missing statue. it means he has to become embroiled in a dark game of cat and mouse. Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) offers $5,000 for a little black bird statue. Kasper Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet) know as the Fat Man also wants the bird and will pay some $25,000 for it. However it seems that they might know more than they let on at first. Not only about the bird but about his murdered partner.
Ok, so lets get the history out of the way. It was nominated for best picture, screenplay and supporting actor at the oscars. It was the first major studio motion picture film that launched the film noir genre. It also arguably lead to the rise of cult cinema, crime fiction and the magnificent Giallo genre. So the film itself is that rare thing, it matches much of the legend around it. It is well plotted, a little laboured for today’s taste in pacing but still works for performance and chemistry. It oozes style and sex. Literally leaving the film of it on the screen (as well as a slight smoke haze). It just works and is astonishing in that it hasn’t aged. This might be because it tells a moral timeless tale. A tale of greed, desire and the murder. This might be because it was directed and written by a man who loved to examine the human condition. Huston also loved to add sardonic wit and layered intrigue in his work. It also might be that the film is filled with great performances and chemistry as mentioned. Lorre and Greenstreet are great together. Bogart and Astor work well together and to be fair anyone works as Bogarts cutting dialogue, slashes and slices the air which make it all the more fun.
So to the disc and well to the question we all asked. Does it look any different? In the Blu Ray it is noticeable to the trained eye but to the amateur like me only the depth of the blacks was what I drolled over. the extras are pretty solid. With the best things on the disk being the studio blooper reel for the film fan and the excellent commentary by Lax being the highlight for anyone else.
Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax
Featurette The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird
Breakdowns of 1941: Studio Blooper Reel
Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart
Warner Night at the Movies 1941 Short Subjects Gallery – Newsreel, Musical Short The Gay Parisian, 2 Classic Cartoons: Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt and Meet John Doughboy, Trailers of This Movie, 1941’s Sergeant York and 1936’s Previous Falcon Movie Adaptation, Satan Met a Lady
Audio-Only Bonus: 3 Radio Show Adaptations – 2 Featuring the Movie’s Original Stars, Plus Another Starring Edward G. Robinson