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The Maltese Falcon
Dangerous Female

USA 1931
produced by
Warner Brothers
directed by Roy Del Ruth
starring Ricardo Cortez, Bebe Daniels, Dudley Digges, Una Merkel, Robert Elliott, Thelma Todd, Otto Matieson, Walter Long, Dwight Frye, J.Farrell MacDonald, Agostino Borgato, Lucille Ward, Tiny Jones, Morgan Wallace, Cliff Saum
screenplay by Maude Fulton, Brown Holmes, based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett

Sam Spade, Maltese Falcon

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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One day, a certain Ruth Wonderly (Bebe Daniels) hires detectives Sam Spade (Ricardo Cortez) and Miles Archer (Walter Long) to observe a man for her - and the next day, Archer turns up dead, Spade becomes the prime suspect in his murder, and a bunch of eccentric characters - Joel Cairo (Otto Matieson), Casper Gutman (Dudley Digges) and his righthand-man Wilmer (Dwight Frye) - turn up in his office asking for a certain bird, apparently a priceless statue that dates back to the Middle Ages and incidently exactly the statue Ruth is after as well. Spade doesn't have the statue, but since the others won't accept that, he decides to play for time ... and wouldn't you know it, eventually the statue is delivered to him by a dying man. Spade is too clever though to hand them over to those after the bird and demands quite a bit of money and a fall guy for the murder of his partner he didn't commit - and this way he manages to play the others against one another until the statue turns out to be a fake. Wilmer has taken off on his own since he was supposed to be the fall guy, and now Cairo and Gutman make their exits as well - to run right into Wilmer's gunfire, as he wasn't too pleased that they wanted to sell him off. In the end, he is arrested anyways though, and Spade also hands over Ruth to the police, although he has fallen in love with her - but he has also found out that it was her who had murdered Miles ...


Taken by its own terms, The Maltese Falcon is a pretty decent crime thriller, sticking pretty closely to the novel by Dashiell Hammett it's based on, which is of course a masterpiece of crime literature.

But from today's point of view, it's almost impossible not to compare this film to The Maltese Falcon by John Huston, which was made 10 years later - and which is the by far better movie. Thing is, Huston's film sticks to the source novel about as closely as this film, but has somehow managed to add much more tension and suspense to the story, had a better cast at hand, and especially Ricardo Cortez in the lead in this version of the story fails to convince as hard-boiled detective, not only when compared to Humphrey Bogart.

That all said, this earlier version of the story is by no means a bad film, yet at the same time it's no classic, and deservedly so, and if you have the choice you should invariably go for Huston's version.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD