The Maltese Falcon (1941)

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Perhaps the most famous MacGuffin in movie history is the Maltese Falcon and this film is one of the most iconic versions of the film noir style of detective stories.

Humphrey Bogart played Sam Spade, a detective whose partner is murdered during a case where everyone is in search of a priceless statuette of a black bird.  There are many twists and turns in the noir and Humphrey Bogart is in full glory here.

Peter Lorre and his distinct voice and appearance is in this film as well, playing one of the men searching for the Maltese Falcon.  He is an original actor, someone unlike anyone around him.  He gives each role a flair and this one is no exception.

The story is beautifully laid out and unveils itself perfectly.  Sam Spade seems to always be one step ahead of everyone, able to spin whatever happens to his favor.  He is a skilled detective with one part con man.  The police have clearly had their fill of Spade too as they were anxious to try and arrest him for whatever they could.

While action is limited, the film does a tremendous job of creating tone and using that tone to create a tension in place of the action.  Each scene is vitally important and nothing is filler.

Bogart is easily the standout of this film and this is an example of why people talk about him as such a classic actor.



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