This probably sounds really weird, but The Maltese Falcon (based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett) reminds me of a landed fish. Fresh out of the water and flapping about like mad, its tail swishing from side to side at breakneck speed. One twist here, another twist there, one turn here and another there, never still for a moment. Possibly not the best simile for a film, but I can’t help it: the speed of this film is just so frenetic. I saw it again last night, and found myself struggling to keep pace.
The Maltese Falcon begins with a quick introduction, a paragraph scrolling down the screen to the effect that in 1539, the Knight Templars of Malta paid tribute to Charles V of Spain by sending him a golden falcon encrusted from beak to claw with jewels—but pirates seized the galley carrying it, and the Maltese Falcon was lost, its fate a mystery.
Fellow blogger and Cary Grant fan Sabrina Mathew’s sometime-ago link to this stunning slideshow of the actor made me take a silent vow to do a Grant post soon. It’s taken a while, mainly because I wasn’t able to make up my mind whether I wanted to review Arsenic and Old Lace, Charade, or Operation Petticoat—all classic Grant comedies—but the wait’s finally over. I’ll do Operation Petticoat and Charade later; for now it’s this hilarious, sometimes slapstick, dark comedy directed by Frank Capra, that I remember as being the first Cary Grant film I ever saw. It also remains one of my favourites—across time, genres, actors, everything.