The Maltese Falcon
American film noir, black-and-white, 1941, by John Huston, Language: English, Subtitles: Hungarian, 100'
Directed by John Huston
Written by Dashiell Hammett
Screenplay by John Huston
Director of photography: Arthur Edeson
Music by Adolphe Deutsch
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Lee Patrcik
Production: Warner Brothers
When Hemingway and Faulkner were working on the screenplay of The Big Sleep, the story is that they contacted the author Raymond Chandler to get him to tell them the name of the killer. Chandler’s answer didn’t fit in with theories proposed by either of them. The response surprised them because the character Chandler came out with ‘certainly couldn’t have done it’. Authors made hard-boiled thrillers according to a different pattern than classic English detective stories: in these, it is not so important who committed the crimes and who wants to commit the crimes. Neither of Dashiel Hammett’s works, Red Harvest and the more famous but no better The Maltese Falcon, are the sort that one could categorically state who the perpetrator was. They have their own atmosphere. And it is this atmosphere that the double Oscar-winning director was able to encapsulate so well in his directorial debut, low-budget adaptation. Of course, he was assisted by Humphrey Bogart, with whom he had already worked as a screenwriter on his first film. The movie was made with a total budget of USD 300,000 and shot in under eight weeks, yet its success was such that it broke opened the gates of Hollywood to Huston.