The Maltese Falcon (1941)

(In theaters, August 2000) Modern moviegoers will be shocked at the initial narrative drive of this film, where scenes steamroll across the screen one after another, setting up the plot with a raging, almost comical efficiency. Don’t be surprised to find multiple clichés in The Maltese Falcon, but don’t blame the film; blame the innumerable screenwriters who ripped off this film (and, reasonably, the original novel) for countless imitation, and the entire genre of noir film. There are a few rough spots, easy glossing over complex events (oh, so my partner’s been shot… wanna make out?) but the film eventually develops such an inherent fascination that most viewers won’t mind if the last twenty minutes of the film are little more than a theatrical play on film. Somewhat unpolished, maybe even a bit naive, but a lot of fun.

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