Not that I’m bragging, but I’m so dedicated to this insane blog project that watched The Maltese Falcon twice. Not that I really wanted to, but my first viewing, after a long day, was late last Saturday night, tummy stuffed on grilled shish-kabobs, courtesy of my loving husband. He saw The Maltese Falcon on my pile of Netflix discs and popped it in, recognizing it as a good movie he once saw on a plane. I was nodding off repeatedly throughout the film. I woke up multiple times asking my husband, “What’s going on? Who’s that guy?” By the end, I was just angry that I was missing some crucial connections. Monday morning, I watched it again, this time after coffee and a shower. I would highly suggest brewing an extra pot to get the best quality out of this film.
Sadly, it was still a bore. All talk and very little action. And the talk was so fast it can be hard to keep up. If your mind wonders for ten seconds you can be twenty steps behind Bogart and the gang.
You see, Humphrey Bogart plays Samule Spade, a Private Investigator, who has just been asked by a concerned woman by the name Miss Wanderly (Mary Astor) to find her sister and convince her to come home and leave the man she ran off with, Floyd Thursby. That night, Spade’s partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan), goes out to tail Thursby only to end up dead shortly before Thursby does. Spade is considered a prime suspect, so he finds Wanderly to try to clear his story, only to discover she used a fake name to try to allude him and a dangerous cast of characters closing in all searching for a jewel encrusted artifact, the Maltese Falcon. Spade decides he’s the only man who can protect her but gets greedy and becomes entangled in the messy transaction for the Falcon.
I have no doubts that the plot is solid and engaging, but this is the motor-mouth of classic noir films. I’ll give the great John Huston a break, this was his directorial debut. At times, it felt like an exhausting exercise in listening to keep all the clues and details in place within my mind. There are no moments of suspense because no other ideas can get in there with all the dialogue. Any silent moments feel uncomfortable after the first few minutes. Have you ever seen an episode of The Gilmore Girls? It was like that, only instead of girly dribble it was all Bogart crime noir. Non stop. Sitting here writing in silence and thinking about the constant bombardment of words I had to keep up with is still a little unsettling.
Obviously, I was pretty disappointed with The Maltese Falcon, but that doesn’t mean everyone will be. My husband refused to alter his original Netflix rating of five stars, and I admire that. If you enjoy Bogart, mysteries, crime or any classic noir, maybe this will work for you. Just keep your ears perked up at all times so you don’t get lost.
“Here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.”