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Working on an assignment for gorgeous Valerie Purvis (Bette Davis),
private eye Ames (Porter Hall) is murdered, and suspicion immediately
falls on his partner Ted Shane (Watrren William), who had an affair with
his wife (Wini Shaw). Thing is, Shane did not kill his partner, and he is
not interested in his wife/widow anymore - but how to prove it?
first thing Shane is up to is researching Valerie's background, even if
that includes frisking her room, and soon he comes up with a wild story
about the legendary gem-filled horn of Roland she seems to be after - and
not only her, also matriarchal Madame Barabas (Alison Skipworth), her
halfwit foster son and hitman Kenny (Maynard Holmes), and her
double-crossing right-hand man Travers (Arthur Treacher), and they all
have one thing in common, they would stop at nothing getting their hands
on the horn, not even murder.
After much to and fro, Shane actually gets
his hands on the horn and manages to bring all suspects together for what
he pretends to be an auction where he wants to sell the blasted thing to
the highest bidder - but really it's a trap, and before long, the police
manages to arrest Madame Barabas, Kenny and Travers. Shane helps Valerie
escape though - only to make her confess to the murder of Ames, after
which he lures her into yet another police trap he has set up ...
light-weight comedy adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's classic The
Maltese Falcon, this version of the story has taken many a beating
over the years, and not all of it justified. Sure, Hammett's rather grim
novel does not really offer itself to a comedy treatment just like his
more light-weight Thin Man did, and as a result, there are
quite a few inconsistencies in the outcome. Also, Satan Met a Lady
compares unfavourably to John Huston's classic Maltese
Falcon from 5 years later, but then that movie is an undistputed
masterpiece only very few crime dramas don't compare unfavourably to - and
it wasn't even made yet when Satan Met a Lady came out ...
plus side though, taken as a typical crime movie of the B-variety, Satan
Met a Lady is not half bad, it keeps things going at a steady pace,
remaqins entertaining throughout and has a pretty good cast: Warren
Williams plays his role with the same slightly ruthless charm and self
irony as he played his Perry
Mason and Philo Vance around the same time,
Bette Davis' acting talents is undisputed and she puts it to good use
here, and young Marie Wilson as William's dumb-as-a-brick yet resourceful
secretary is a real (intentional) laugh.
In all, if you can forget for
an hour and a quarter that you have ever seen Huston's Maltese
Falcon, then you might find yourself liking this film.