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Old 03-07-2009, 21:59   #1
BiscLimpkit
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Thumbs down The Maltese Falcon - disappointing IMO

I've been looking forward to this for a while but there were a few things that bugged me - mainly loose ends, which weren't tied up.



Totally not my style and for a film that claims to be the first film noir, it certainly isn't a very good one. IMO of course.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:46   #2
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The Falcon is the McGuffin and it's nicely ironic too, "the stuff that dreams are made of"! As for who killed Thursby, Wilmer is implicated but really it doesn't matter!
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:26   #3
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I've made this point before but it is still valid: it's a good thing we don't all agree because life would be very dull if we all shared the same tastes.

For me, The Maltese Falcon is one of the least flawed movies ever and one I can watch at least once a year. The source novel is also pretty good.

The assertion that The Maltese Falcon is the first film noir is open to argument. For example, You Only Live Once, made four years earlier, can be regarded as film noir. (Incidentally, You Only Live Once also has some deep focus shots, courtesy of Leon Shamroy, which disprove that other popular fallacy that Citizen Kane was the first film to feature deep focus images.)
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:25   #4
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I think all the problems the OP has detailed are really only incidental. The Maltese Falcon is one of those films with a lot going on in the background. Like Hitchcock's Mc Guffin it's important to the characters but not really to the audience. As with the best noirs The Maltese Falcon deals with trust, betrayal and the sourness of humanity. The murder mystery is the framework within which the story is set and I think it works well enough in that regard - all the major plot points are pretty much wrapped up in the end.



Ultimately this kind of film just may not be your thing. If the plot bothered you here I'd suggest steering clear of The Big Sleep, which becomes so convoluted even Chandler himself wasn't sure who did one of the murders.
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:25   #5
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Quote:
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Ultimately this kind of film just may not be your thing. If the plot bothered you here I'd suggest steering clear of The Big Sleep, which becomes so convoluted even Chandler himself wasn't sure who did one of the murders.
The big sleep is indeed a lot more convoluted and a lot more difficult to follow than the maltese falcon. Yet it wasn't that Chandler wasn't sure who did one of the murders, it was just that one of the murders remained unsolved.
Not every murder has to be solved.
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:41   #6
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This is, quite simply, an awesome movie. I still remember the first time I saw it as a kid, on a Saturday afternoon on BBC2. It has an almost magical quality to it. Just thinking about it makes me want to watch it again, but there's a small matter in SW19 to sort out first.
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:46   #7
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It's a while since I read The Big Sleep, but as I remember it's not that convoluted, & it all makes sense. It's just that large parts of the book had to be skimmed over. A young girl who is a drug addict (& killer) who, while under the influence, poses for porno pictures, that are sold by two homosexuals. None of this could be in a 40's Hollywood film. I don't know why Hawks chose to film this book, but it is an enjoyable movie.

For the record, I love The Maltese Falcon, every scene, every line, everything about it, but there are lots of truely great movies that I don't care much for.
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Old 05-07-2009, 13:09   #8
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Although I don't regard Maltese Falcon as noir, the noir plots were never their strong point, nor were they intended to be. Halfway through Out of the Past (for example) I doubt if anyone has a very clear idea of exactly what the hell is going on and yet it is a terrific movie.
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Old 05-07-2009, 13:29   #9
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Halfway through Out of the Past (for example) I doubt if anyone has a very clear idea of exactly what the hell is going on and yet it is a terrific movie.
The thing about a lot of noirs, and Out of the Past is a pretty good example of this, is that they often get better the second time you watch them. If the plot is particularly twisty some of the enjoyment is lost first time just because you find yourself constantly wondering what's actually happening and why. If you come back to it you already know all that and you're free to sit and simply enjoy the dialogue, photography etc.
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Old 05-07-2009, 20:47   #10
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I watched this as part of the Top 250 i'm doing and I didn't get on with it at all. I've watched alot of other noir films in the top 250 i loved so don't let this one put you off.
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Old 14-07-2009, 07:01   #11
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My understanding of The Big Sleep is that not even Chandler could untangle the narrative of his own novel, even when offered money to do so. Could this be because the piece was not conceived as a novel at all, but was a series of short stories woven into a longer work? I don't care: the point for me is that the movie, and Huston's The Maltese Falcon, are not really about their stories at all. They're about the finger-licking joy of the individual scenes themselves, and the charisma of Bogart. Pick any scene in either film and you'll notice that you're suddenly struck with a sense of expectation, even though you've seen the material millions of time before. The comedic phonecall to the cops in Big Sleep ("Hello, who is this please?"), the scene in the bookshop when Bogie turns up his hat and puts on the glasses, the final monologue in the car; or in Falcon, the first entrance of Peter Lorre (among loads of other possible choices). These films are huge fun, to the extent that their plumbing doesn't really need to be analysed. Is there a leaky tap here or there? Who cares!
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Old 14-07-2009, 16:38   #12
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My understanding of The Big Sleep is that not even Chandler could untangle the narrative of his own novel, even when offered money to do so.
I think this idea comes from Howard Hawks talking, on several occasions and with several embellishments, about making The Big Sleep. The story goes that Hawks and his writers could not fathom who had murdered the chauffeur so they telephoned Raymond Chandler who, off the top of his head, could not recall the details of a novel he had written years previously. This is of course quite different from Chandler being unable to unravel his own plotline even if given adequate time.

Mind you, Chandler's main strengths were his characterisations, his dialogue and his descriptions, not his plots.
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