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Old 06-23-2011, 01:42 AM   #1
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Discussion: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Time to discuss the Maltese Falcon....

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Old 06-23-2011, 02:03 AM   #2
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To those of you who enjoyed The Maltese Falcon, may I recommend the Hammett short story it was based upon - Who Killed Bob Teal?

http://www.manybooks.net/titles/hamm...05bobteal.html

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, 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.

Last edited by GA Russell; 06-27-2011 at 02:58 AM.
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Old 06-23-2011, 02:03 AM   #3
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I thought it was OK.

Spoiler - I really thought as I was reading that the young hoodlum working for Gutman was going to turn out to be his daughter in disguise. Did anyone else think this? I know it'd be a somewhat preposterous twist unless his daughter was pretty masculine, but the way they described the hoodlum was as very small and feminine, and with the same hair colour as the daughter. I even went google-searching afterwards to see what others thought about that point, but I was shocked to find nada online (from my limited search). Did he mean that as a red herring, or was it just coincidence? Because in the end it didn't matter one way or another really.
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Old 06-23-2011, 02:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GA Russell View Post
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.
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Old 06-23-2011, 02:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
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.
Tom, I've always wanted to see that first movie. All references to it that I've seen have been dismissive. I had no idea that it disappeared from sight because of the code.

Did you know that Hammett wrote four Sam Spade short stories? They are collected together with other Hammett works in a book entitled The Adventures of Sam Spade.
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Old 06-23-2011, 02:45 AM   #6
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Tom, I've always wanted to see that first movie. All references to it that I've seen have been dismissive. I had no idea that it disappeared from sight because of the code.
I also want to see it. The dismissive reviews I've seen refer not to it, but to Satan Met a Lady (1936), which was a comedic adaptation of the book. The 1931 film is still available, but I can't find it on line for free or for rent, and I haven't had much luck with ordering DVDs through the mail. A couple of times I did order DVDs and never got the goods. I think there must be some movie buffs working at the Post Office.

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Did you know that Hammett wrote four Sam Spade short stories? They are collected together with other Hammett works in a book entitled The Adventures of Sam Spade.
No I didn't, although I knew others had written Sam Spade stories. Thanks for that. I'll have to check it out.
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Old 06-23-2011, 03:23 AM   #7
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My records show that there are four Sam Spade stories in toto: The Maltese Falcon, Too Many Have Lived, They Can Only Hang You Once and A Man Called Spade.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:13 AM   #8
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Did you know that Hammett wrote four Sam Spade short stories? They are collected together with other Hammett works in a book entitled The Adventures of Sam Spade.
There was also a long-running radio serial (in the US) along the same lines. It was extremely popular for a while, until Hammett was replaced as the writer (possibly because of his political activities and subsequent imprisonment and investigation by HUAC - I'm not sure about any of that; I think I read it somewhere).
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:23 AM   #9
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The movie nailed all the characters except Spade. Didn’t the book describe him as a tall blonde? Anyway the book is about Sam Spade and the movie is about Bogie. I like both but would vote for the book.

The character best done in both is San Francisco.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:30 AM   #10
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I enjoyed the book. I find reading books that take you back to a different time very interesting. The author was very descriptive. I found myself visualizing the first time Sam rolled his first cigarette. He actually brings you back to that time.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:03 PM   #11
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My GoodRead review: "Great mystery and suspense, with some frustratingly drawn out areas. The resolution seemed a bit anticlimactic, but I did find the actual ending to be very interesting. I wonder if it was purposely left open for the possibility of a sequel that, unfortunately, was never to come.
All in all, it was a good read."

I found that the first 12 chapters went along at a good pace, building, and twisting just enough - but then...blah! Things began to get slow, and plodding until around chapter 17 or 18, when it picked up again. I was most, excited (for lack of a better word) while reading chapter 20, wondering what was going to happen with the two of them (Bridget & Sam) but it seemed to fall flat; I was expecting a little more oomph, in the resolution.

I am happy to hear that there were other Sam Spade stories, though, and I will look them up.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:55 PM   #12
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There was also a long-running radio serial (in the US) along the same lines. It was extremely popular for a while, until Hammett was replaced as the writer (possibly because of his political activities and subsequent imprisonment and investigation by HUAC - I'm not sure about any of that; I think I read it somewhere).
I knew there was a Sam Spade radio show, but I never knew that Hammett was an early writer of that show. I'll have to check that out. I do know that episodes of that show are out there, but I don't know if the ones penned by Hammett are.
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:02 PM   #13
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I don't think that Hammett wrote for the radio show, or any of the movies based upon his books either. As I recall, he once said the only thing he had to do with the radio show was collect the checks as they arrived in the mailbox.

But if I'm wrong, I'm wrong!
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:24 PM   #14
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Regarding the radio show, I'm going from memory of something I read a few years ago. By all means, correct me if I'm wrong.

It's possible that he never wrote for the radio, but he was credited with creating the character of Sam Spade. Maybe what I remember is that the credit was removed as a result of his activism - rather than him being fired as the writer.

I also remember reading that he was very sick in the last few years of his life (he was a heavy smoker and drinker), to the extent that he didn't have the strength to write a single word of anything.
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Old 06-23-2011, 01:32 PM   #15
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I enjoyed it. Very interesting characters.
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