By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 11, 2010)
The Maltese Falcon – Warner Blu-ray
This iconic noir, based on a classic Dashiell Hammett novel and marking the directing debut for a Mr. John Huston, is so vividly burned into the film buff zeitgeist, that I don’t feel the need to recount the plot. Suffice it to say that “When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it.” And leave it at that. Humphrey Bogart truly became “Humphrey Bogart” with his performance as San Francisco gumshoe Sam Spade. Equally memorable performances from Sidney Greenstreet, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre (“Look what you did to my shirt!”), Lee Patrick and Elisha Cook, Jr. round things off quite nicely.
Some might quibble that Blu-ray can only make so much improvement on a black and white print that has always been a bit on the grainy side to begin with, but I discern sharper detail than the previous Warner Bros. DVD versions (not to mention blacker blacks, whiter whites, and an overall improved gray scale…for those who geek out on that sort of thing).