Originally Posted by GA Russell
To those of you who enjoyed The Maltese Falcon, may I recommend the Hammett short story it was based upon - Who Shot Bob Teal?
I read Falcon in 1972, and have seen the Bogart movie since. The movie really stuck in my mind, and I had to make an effort to visualize the characters as they were described in the book, rather than the actors. I feel that nearly all of the actors were way too old, particularly Mary Astor and Elisha Cook, Jr. Brigid told Spade initially that she was 21, and Gutman's hotel clerk pegged her as 17, thinking that she was his daughter. So I figure that she was at most 25. And I put Wilmer at 19. Sidney Greenstreet was great, but not fat enough in my mind. Peter Lorre was the hardest to shake.
The movie did not make clear that Spade and Brigid were sleeping together, and as a result I felt that Spade's final monologue in the movie was out of the blue. The book made it all make sense. Was Falcon the first popular novel to have a bedroom scene?
Falcon was originally published in 1929 in a magazine (Black Mask?, I don't remember), before the Crash. I think that it is important to remember that Falcon is a Roaring Twenties story, not a depression era story.
For years I have considered Red Harvest to be a better story than Falcon, but I reread that one last year, and I would have to say now that I like Falcon much more.
I read once years ago that Sam Spade was the first popular protagonist that was nobody's idea of a hero (the "anti-hero"); i.e., he was sleeping with his partner's wife, and then dropped her when he got tired of her.
The reason the movie didn't mention Spade's sleeping with Brigid is because it was filmed post-code. For the same reason, the bathroom strip-search was omitted. There's an earlier film version, 1931 I believe, that is much more explicit. It was critically acclaimed and popular at the box office, but it was banned after the code came in. While I liked the Bogart movie, I felt that he and Astor had zero chemistry, and yes, her declaration of love and his response made little sense in that context.
I really enjoyed the book, and I wish Hammett had written more Sam Spade adventures. He was an interesting character.