In addition to today being the 50th anniversary of The Dick Van Dyke Show’s debut, it’s the 70th anniversary of the date on which the best-known movie adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930), had its New York City premiere. That version, of course, starred Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor, and was directed by John Huston. It’s not only an incredibly popular picture, but has been named one of the greatest films of all time.
Rather than go on at length about the attractions of 1941’s The Maltese Falcon, I shall simply embed a brief clip from that motion picture. Below, Bogie, portraying San Francisco private eye Sam Spade, confronts his alternately seductive and scheming client, Ruth Wonderly/Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Astor), about her role in the shooting death of his business partner, Miles Archer. It’s a powerful scene, based closely on the book’s denouement, that loses none of its impact with repeat viewings.
Thank you, Mr. Hammett, for penning The Maltese Falcon, one of my favorite private-eye novels. And thank you, Mr. Bogart and Mr. Huston, for bringing that story so vividly to the big screen.
READ MORE: “The Maltese Falcon,” by Tim Dirks (AMC Filmsite); “Ten of the Best Fat Men in Literature,” by John Mullan (The Guardian).