Bryan (John Hamilton): Who killed Thursby?
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): I don’t know.
Bryan (John Hamilton): Perhaps you don’t, but you could make an excellent guess.
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): My guess might be excellent or it might be crummy, but Mrs. Spade didn’t raise any children dippy enough to make guesses in front of a district attorney, and an assistant district attorney and a stenographer.
Bryan (John Hamilton): Why shouldn’t you, if you have nothing to conceal?
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): Everybody has something to conceal.
Bryan (John Hamilton): I’m a sworn officer of the law, 24 hours a day, and neither formality nor informality justifies you withholding evidence of crime from me. Except, of course, on constitutional grounds.
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): [ranting] Now, both you and the police have as much as accused me of being mixed up in the other night’s murders. Well, I’ve had trouble with both of you before. And as far as I can see my best chance of clearing myself of the trouble you’re trying to make for me, is by bringing in the murderers all tied up. And the only chance I’ve got of catching them, and tying them up, and bringing them in, is by staying as far away as possible from you and the police, because you’d only gum up the works. [turns to stenographer] You getting this all right, son, or am I goin’ too fast for ya?
Stenographer: No, sir, I’m getting it all right.
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): Good work.
Review of The Maltese Falcon
And that quote’s the heart of The Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade’s partner has been murdered, and he has to find the murderer to clear himself. It’s a story filled with intriguing characters, fleshed out by great actors. It’s fast-paced, exciting, with a heart-breaking ending.
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): I hope they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I’m gonna send you over. The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means if you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years. I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.
John Huston made his directorial debut with this classic film noir adaptation of Dashiel Hammett’s novel, starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. Sam Spade (Bogart) is a cynical private eye caught up in the hunt for a jewel-encrusted falcon while searching for the murderer of his partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan). His fellow treasure hunters include a sinister ‘little and large’ act (Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet), a psychotic tearaway (Elisha Cook Jr), and the duplicitous femme fatale, Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Astor).
Cast of characters
Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca, Sabrina) … Samuel Spade
The protagonist of The Maltese Falcon. The private, who’s partner has been murdered, which throws him into the middle of the search for the black bird. It’s not even that he liked his partner. It’s the principle of the thing:
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it. And it happens we’re in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it’s-it’s bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.
Mary Astor (The Kennel Murder Case, Meet Me in St. Louis) … Brigid O’Shaughnessy
The femme fatale, who hires Spade. And seemingly falls in love with him. But he can’t trust her, no matter how much he wants to.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor): I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): You know, that’s good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we’d never get anywhere.
Gladys George (Marie Antoinette) … Iva Archer
Miles’ widow, who has more than a crush on Sam Spade.
Peter Lorre (M, Mad Love) … Joel Cairo
Gutman’s partner, searching for the Maltese Falcon. Who threatens Sam Spade, and gets slapped around in payback.
Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre): Might I remind you Mr. Spade that you may have the falcon, but we certainly have you.
Barton MacLane (The Case of the Lucky Legs, The Big Street) … Lt. of Detectives Dundy
The detective investigating the various murders.
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): Haven’t you anything better to do than to keep popping in here early every morning and asking a lot of fool questions?
Lt. Dundy: And gettin’ a lot of lyin’ answers!
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): Take it easy.
Lee Patrick (Mildred Pierce, Visit to a Small Planet) … Effie Perine
Sam’s lovely, faithful secretary.
Effie Perine (Lee Patrick): Look at me, Sam. You worry me. You always think you know what you’re doing, but you’re too slick for your own good. Some day you’re going to find it out.
Sydney Greenstreet (Between Two Worlds, Casablanca) … Kasper Gutman
The intelligent, heartless man searching for the Maltese Falcon. To call him “obsessive” would be an understatement. He has no compunctions, and will let nothing get in his way.
Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet): Well, sir, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names… or shall we go to Istanbul?
Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre): Are you going?
Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet): Seventeen years I’ve wanted that little item and I’ve been trying to get it. If we must spend another year on the quest… well, sir, it will be an additional expenditure in time of only… five and fifteen seventeenths percent.
Ward Bond … Detective Tom Polhaus
The other police detective, investigating the case.
Detective Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond): [picks up the falcon] Heavy. What is it?
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.
Detective Tom Polhaus (Ward Bond): Huh?
Jerome Cowan (Blondie’s Secret, Who Done It?) … Miles Archer
Sam Spade’s murdered partner.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor): Mr. Archer was so alive yesterday, so solid and hearty…
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): Stop it. He knew what he was doing. Those are the chances we take.
Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor): Was he married?
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): Yeah, with ten thousand insurance, no children, and a wife that didn’t like him.
Elisha Cook Jr. Elisha Cook Jr. … Wilmer Cook
Gutman’s enforcer. A man who thinks with his guns. A vicious bully, that Sam Spade easily disarms. And Gutman will throw him over without a moment’s hesitation:
Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet): I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.