Re: RARA-AVIS: Maltese Falcons on DVD

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 02 Feb 2006

Bill Denton wrote:

> Here's something to look forward to: this year Warner Brothers will be
> reissuing the 1941 movie version of THE MALTESE FALCON on DVD and
> including the two earlier adaptations: THE MALTESE FALCON (1931, with
> Ricardo Cortez as Spade) and SATAN MET A LADY (1936, with Bette Davis as
> the Brigid character). I saw SATAN MET A LADY years ago but I've never
> seen the first version.

I saw them both on the same day on TCM a couple of years back. They both stank in completely different ways. The second one took way too many liberties with the plot, and the Spade character was this jaunty, cowboy hat wearing clown. Also, Davis was all wrong for the Brigid character, played it brassy all the way, which, as anyone who has read the book knows, is not how Brigid gets men to do her dirty work for her. I don't recall much about the Ricardo Cortez version plot-wise, because I was utterly distracted by the wooden acting of the less-than-stellar cast. On the other hand, it is entertaining to watch them, knowing what the story was in store for once Huston got his hands on in, first as screenwriter, then as director. Can it be possible that even at this late date, we underestimate the ability of John Huston as a director? Watch those three films together, and see how he frames a shot, the angles and lighting he chooses. I don't think budget has much to do with it. He was just a genuine student of the craft.

Thanks for the head's up on this, Bill. I already own THE MALTESE FALCON on DVD, but I'm definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for this version.

Brian Thornton

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 02 Feb 2006 EST