The Maltese Falcon: Take 1.
The classic Humphrey Bogart Maltese Falcon
(1941) was the third movie version of Dashiell Hammett's novel. The first movie
was made in 1931.The movie
starred "Latin Lover" Ricardo Cortez
(born Jacob Krantz) as Sam Spade, Bebe Daniels
as Ruth Wonderly, Dudley Digges
as Casper Gutman, and Otto Matieson
as Joel Cairo.
Since it was a pre-Code
movie, the 1931 version is considerably racier
than the 1941 version. Sam Spade sleeps with every female character: when Miles Acher's widow sees Ruth Wonderly in Spade's bedroom, she exclaims "Who's that dame in my kimono?" Gunsel
Wilmer is explicitly Casper Gutman's boyfriend. Both the 1931 and 1941 version are pretty faithful to the novel, except they both omit the Flitcraft Parable
and the novel's ending, where Sam Spade renews his affair with Iva Archer. The 1931 version adds a character
that solves one of the story's mysteries; it involves Sam Spade speaking Chinese.
The second version
) was the 1936 Satan Met a Lady
, which starred Warren William
Ted Shan, Bette Davis
Valerie Purvis ("she's as harmless as a hungry panther!"), Alison Skipworth
Madame Barabas, and Arthur Treacher
Anthony Travers. In addition to changing the city and all the characters' names, they're looking for the horn of Roland
instead of the Falcon. ("A cynical farce of elaborate and sustained cheapness...a farrago of nonsense." From the contemporary New York Times review
.) Bette Davis hated
the movie and tried to break her contract with Warner Brothers over it. ("I was so distressed by the whole tone of the script and the vapidity of my part that I marched up to Mr. Warner's office and demanded that I be given work that was commensurate with my proven ability.")
"The Three Sam Spades: The Shifting Model of American Masculinity in the Three Films of The Maltese Falcon"
from Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media
is an interesting comparison of the three movies and their protagonists.
The Kniphausen Hawk
was supposedly the inspiration for the actual Maltese Falcon statuette. The falcon statuette is one of Adam Savage's obsessions
(along with dodos) and he sculpted his own replica.
The 1931 version is sometimes called Dangerous Female to distinguish it from the Bogart classic. The three-disc special edition DVD includes all three movies. Warren William, who played the Sam Spade character in Satan Met a Lady, played Perry Mason in a series of films in the earle '30s, and was replaced in 1936 by Ricardo Cortez, the first movie's Sam Spade.