To the casual first-time viewer, The Maltese Falcon's plot -- loaded with red herrings, rabbit trails and double crosses -- must seem dizzying. But, as Roger Ebert writes in his book The Great Movies: "the plot is the last thing you think of about The Maltese Falcon." Rather, it's the all-star cast or the set design or the dialogue or the unusual camera angles and lighting. Or Bogie's Sam Spade. Thankfully, the third time was the charm when casting the fast-talking private eye with a heart of lead and a soft spot for femme fatales, because after two other directors adapted Dashiell Hammett's hard-boiled detective novel for the silver screen, Warner Bros. let a first-time director take another stab. Together cigar-chomping writer/director John Huston and Humphrey Bogart nailed Hammett's Spade by not softening the protagonist up, surrounding him with an impeccable all-star cast and -- spoiler alert -- not giving him a happy ending. If not the first example of film noir, The Maltese Falcon certainly popularized the style, ushering in what film critics consider the be the genre's classic period. Catch it at midnight Friday and Saturday at the Inwood Theatre, 5458 W. Lovers Lane. Admission is $10. Call 214-764-9106 or visit landmarktheatres.com for more information.
Fri., March 11; Sat., March 12, 2011