Hard-drinking private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) sleuths the backyard of San Francisco in search of an elusive black bird statuette while evading the setups of three disparate miscreants: the duplicitous Brigid, the p... more »erfumed Mr. Cairo, and the scheming Fat Man. John Huston's brilliant directorial debut is aided by first-rate performances, excellent camera work, as well as the director's acute attention to detail while shooting the film. Based on the crime novel by Dashiell Hammett. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet), and Best Screenplay. Previous versions of the story were filmed in 1931 (a.k.a. DANGEROUS FEMALE) and in 1936 (as SATAN MET A LADY, starring Bette Davis), and poorly redone in 1975 (THE BLACK BIRD).« less
"Warner Brothers has one of the greatest film catalogs of any studio; yet they don't appear to take their DVD issues very seriously. Who on earth would put "Goodfellas" on two sides of a disc? or not release the "Director's Cut" version of "Eyes Wide Shut" (imagine the added revenue if they had)? or release a slapdash collection of Kubrick's films? or almost never digitally enhance the audio or visual transfer or provide any significant extras? Compared to the deluxe packages that Universal, Criterion, and, even, Paramount has mustered, Warners' issues - all released in cheap and easily breakable snap cases - are a peculiar desecration of a vaunted film legacy.Case in point: "The Maltese Falcon". Arguably the greatest detective film ever made, Warners at least releases it with a decent video transfer. Unfortunately, the audio synchronizing is off during the last 15 minutes of the movie (by a second but it's still noticable) and I wasn't able to access all the people on the "Cast and Crew" menu (no, it wasn't a machine error, as I tested on several discs thereafter). Moreover, although I enjoyed the "Trailers of Humphrey Bogart" section, it would have been nice if Warners spent the money to create a documentary history of the film the way they did on Universal's "Casablanca" release. Much ink has been spilt praising "The Maltese Falcon" so I won't go into any panegyrics here. It's just a shame that Warners doesn't take this market seriously enough to put more care into the DVD releases of their finest films."
Warner Bros. does it yet again.
takemehome | USA | 03/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Again, Warner Bros. continues to rival other studios with their DVD releases of their classic movies. This time, they've pulled out all the stops for the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon, the film that practically invented the film noir genre. Although not as packed with bonus materials like some of their other previous Special Edition, they've still put enough material on here to use THREE discs. The set contains a cardboard slipcase packaging two slim DVD cases. Disc 1 is contained in the first case, and the second case contains discs 2 and 3. I won't go into detail on the movie, because I'm here to review the product itself, not the movie.
The first disc contains the 1941 film noir classic, with a newly restored digital transfer. Digital artifacting is minimal if existent. Some film artifacting, such as occasional slight shakiness is present, but for the most part, the transfer is clean and free from flaws. The audio is presented in its glorious original mono mix, which has been cleaned up for this new transfer. An audio commentary is included, but I have yet to listen to it. Also included is a bonus called Warner Night At The Movies, which allows you to view a gallery of short subjects before The Maltese Falcon - the way you would have in 1941. The short subjects included are informative and/or entertaining and even include a couple of short cartoons. But the restored movie is, of course, the main attraction - and what an attraction!
Disc 2 contains a nice surprise - the first two film versions of The Maltese Falcon! The first one is the pre-code 1931 version starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade and Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly. Although this first version is very similar to the 1941 version, it contains a bit more sexual innuendo and suggestive scenes. For many years after its initial release, the film was not allowed to be shown until the late 60's, when it turned up on TV under the title Dangerous Female. The second film is a thinly veiled screwball comedy take on the story titled Satan Met A Lady, starring Warren William as Ted Shane (Sam Spade) and Bette Davis as Valerie Purvis (Ruth Wonderly/Brigid O'Shaughnessy). Despite having all of the characters' names changed and the object of desire changed to a ram's horn filled with jewels, it's obvious what the source material is. Satan Met A Lady's theatrical trailer is included, but not the trailer for the 1931 film, despite the packaging's claim that both versions' trailers are included. Having all three films on this set is a good idea, in my opinion, because it allows the viewer to decide for themself what their favorite version is. Although in my opinion, the 1941 tops both of them, I highly enjoyed the other two films too. Unlike the 1941 version, these versions have not been restored and definitely show their age, with plenty of dirts, spots, and scratches. They're unlikely to be revisited on DVD anytime soon, so this is about as good as they're going to get treated on DVD.
Disc 3 contains all of the 1941 version's bonus materials. Not as packed as most supplemental material discs in Warner's Special Editions, (In fact, a single-layer disc was used for disc 3, and holds approx. 3.5 GB of data.) the bonuses included are quite excellent and informative. Included is a new documentary on the making and impact of the movie, called One Magnificent Bird. Next is the TCM documentary Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart, which includes theatrical trailers for many of Bogey's classics, such as High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Petrified Forest, and Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. The idea is to show Bogart's progression from B-list bad guy to A-list movie star. Another great bonus is the Breakdowns of 1941 blooper reel, which contains some of the greatest old school actors and actresses, such as Bogart, Bette Davis, and James Cagney, blowing their lines - and often using some pretty salty language that couldn't be shown in theaters at the time. Also included are some Mary Astor makeup tests, although I personally don't see the significance. Finally, rounding out this set are three radio broadcast performances - the Lux Radio Theater performance with Edward G. Robinson, and two featuring Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet, with Peter Lorre also starring in one of the broadcasts. Approx. two hours of great old time radio to listen to.
This set may disappoint the consumer that has been spoiled by 4-Disc sets of Ben-Hur and Gone With The Wind and the 3-Disc set of The Wizard of Oz. Although I'm one of the consumers that has been spoiled with those releases, in my opinion, The Maltese Falcon's 3-Disc Special Edition stands up alongside these releases beautifully. With THREE movies and around four hours of additional bonus materials, this set truly delivers. If you love old movies, Bogey, or film noir, this is a MUST-have for your collection."
One of the few movies that's as good as the book
Robert James | Culver City, CA USA | 07/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Huston's directorial debut nails every single possible angle for a great movie: a great hero in Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade, here making a major transition from the gangster roles that made him famous; a great set of villains, from Sydney Greenstreet's ponderous Gutman to Peter Lorre's effeminate Joel Cairo to Elisha Cook's almost cartoonish gunman Wilmer; a great femme fatale in Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaunessy; a great hunt, in the quest for the fabled Maltese Falcon. Shot scene for scene out of the novel (with some notable cuts of extraneous material, such as a long story Sam tells Brigid while they're waiting, and Gutman's daughter!), "The Maltese Falcon" is utterly clean, economical film-making with no fat whatsoever (except for Gutman, of course). The movie creates a tense atmosphere from its opening shots, with ironic humor simply acting as counterpoint throughout. The final scenes of revelation, where Sam explains to Brigid his personal code of honor, are as emotionally devastating today as they were fifty years ago. The last shots of the movie, as Brigid descends in the elevator quickly to her fate, while Sam takes the stairs, suggests each character is heading to their own private hell, even if at different speeds. A brilliant movie!"
Erik Rupp | Southern California | 05/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes with a movie everything turns out right. That was the case with this 1941 classic. John Huston's driectorial debut is a masterpiece of film noir, featuring a great performance by Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. Actually, the entire cast is fantastic from top to bottom, with standout performances from Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The story is a classic tale of greed, murder, and manipulation with some surprising plot twists (surprising if you haven't seen it already). THE MALTESE FALCON is one of those movies that you can watch over and over and find something new each time. The picture and sound quality are actually quite good for a film from 1941 as any flaws are minor and inconsequential. The DVD also features the original theatrical trailer, plus a special feature on trailers from Humphrey Bogart movies. This truly is a must-have! Add this DVD to your collection; you will be glad that you did!"
The Greatest Detective Film of All Time
Mark Devey | Murrieta, CA USA | 02/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Maltese Falcon" is perhaps the greatest detective film ever made. It certainly one of the best films ever made. It is populated by great characters-Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), "The Fat Man" (Sidney Greenstreet) and on and on. This is also one of the best written films of all time. The dialogue is snappy, cynical, and funny all at the same time. This movie has not aged at all. Unfortunately, while this is a 5 star movie, the quality of the DVD leaves a lot to be desired. There are so many blips, lines and changes in picture quality from scene to scene (and edit to edit!) that it is very distracting. Frankly, this movie deserves a restoration similar that done on Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and the Criterion Collection's, "The Third Man." I'm afraid, that similar to the CD market, we are going to see poor quality transfers to DVD, followed by new re-mastering and restoration processes that will necessitate the re-release of catalog movies on DVD. Therefore, the customer will have to purchase the same DVD twice to get the picture quality great films, such as this, deserve."