01 September 2009

The Maltese Falcon (1931)

Not THE "The Maltese Falcon." The other one. The one from 1931. Didn't know there was an earlier version? Neither did I.

An extensive discussion of the original version is at The Realm of Ryan blog -
Watching Falcon ‘31 is often a weird experience. It stays quite faithful to the novel, although not as close the Falcon ‘41, one of the most literal adaptations of any novel for the screen (you can almost read along with it if you have the book open). Because the two movies stick so close to the material, many scenes are beat-for-beat, line-for-line identical. But who are these people speaking lines that belong to Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet?..

Even though they have the same plots and most of the same lines, the two movies are fundamentally different... when John Huston made his movie, the crime film genre was finally on the verge of finally catching up to the trends that had re-shaped crime literature since the early 1920s. Hollywood was ready to embrace noir as a cinematic style. The term film noir wouldn’t emerge until post-war French critics starting surveying the movies they had missed during WWII, but today most film historians mark the 1941 Maltese Falcon as the first genuine movie to deserve the name...

Bebe Daniels, who gets billing above Cortez, is actually a sexier Ruth Wonderly (a name she keeps the whole film, instead of later revealing herself as Brigid O’Shaughnessy) than Mary Astor. Because the early 1930s went easier on censorship, Daniels actually strips down nude twice and appears in a bathtub. The film can also make it clear that Spade and Wonderly have slept together in the same bed, something the Code would slam down on in the mid-‘30s. The scene where Spade forces Wonderly to undress to see if she’s stolen money from him is the only case of a section from the novel appearing in ‘31 and not ‘41...
The clip above covers the first 10 minutes. You will immediately realize that this movie was made before the decency code was established. The other 7 segments are available here.

Via Metafilter.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote this review of Falcon '31 back in April, and within the last day, because of MetaFilter, it's spread like crazy through the web and increased my traffic six times. I'm rather amazed, but I'm glad plenty have people have found it interesting. There isn't that much information about the film because of the fame of '41 movie.
    Thanks for posting this here.


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