This One Wasn’t Enameled: The Maltese Falcon

April 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

I finally finished reading The Maltese Falcon. It’s been over a decade since I saw the movie that everyone rightly remembers with everyone who should have been in it. Movie adaptations almost always diverge from the source material out of necessity, but the unsavouriness of the novel makes me wonder how different the original pre-Hays Code 1931 film adaptation is from the book and from the later version. Sam Spade on the page is brilliantly unlikable and Dashiell Hammett’s prose is far looser than Raymond Chandler’s, which is the best way the story could have been told. The production code gave a few films more than a thorough mangling (I still dream of the day the footage of the boathouse scene in Rebecca as shot by Hitchcock with the proper unfolding of events is found in some dusty warehouse or abandoned bus station locker) and finally seeing Fritz Lang’s Metropolis opened my eyes to the fact that major-studio nudity on film was not more than likely invented by Otto Preminger sometime in the sixties. I suspect that the pre-code Maltese Falcon also has a similar unsavoury truth to it that Huston’s masterwork, for all its grandeur, lacks.

My next adventure in things I should have already done is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.

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