#161: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

When and how did I watch this?

December 29th and 30th, 2015, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I’d heard of this movie before.  It sounded like a mystery plot, and I mistook it for a Hitchcock film initially.  I knew Bogart was in it, which is somewhat of a turnoff for me.

What do I know about it now?

I’m going to try to give this one a fair shake, because clearly it’s a classic that deserves recognition.  Astor and her company of antagonists are likely the stereotypes we borrow today: the two-faced seductress, the rotund cane-leaning older gentleman, the snaky rich guy, the yellow fall guy. I enjoyed the final twist — I was both relieved and disappointed with how everything turns out.  What didn’t help me was Bogart’s very wooden performance, which I suppose is his whole movie persona.  He’s the no-nonsense tough guy, always a step ahead (if not a half a stride behind) at all times, which makes him seem sort of invincible, and we’re shocked when that inch-thick armor is penetrated.  The P.I. routine is pretty worn out, but we’re talking about 1941. All in all, it’s a meh movie.  The story gets convoluted at times.

What are some themes in the film?

Deception, greed, love/lust

Did this affect me personally?

Not really.  Again, I wanted it to do more, but I was too involved trying to figure out what was going on.

Why is this ranked #161?

Similar to Tarantino Syndrome (you like that?), it would seem any film Bogart is in automatically gets superb classic status.  You get one good film like Casablanca, and then the formula is repeated, producing similar effects, but never exactly the same caliber.  The Maltese Falcon, to me, was just a slightly better The Big Sleep. Voters agree.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She remarked that it’s a stamp of the times.  It’s a genre she enjoys more than I do.

Would I watch it again?

Probably just to get a better grip on the story.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

I think you would enjoy it.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Well, here’s where things get problematic.  Is it GREAT just because it’s old and it has Bogart and Mary Astor? Are we supposed to just throw this in the classic bin because it has prestige?  I guess it qualifies, but just like some of the earlier films at the bottom of the list, does it REALLY compare to some of the riveting knockout stories and cinematic masterpieces on the list?

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