The Personal is Political
The Maltese Falcon of 1941 was an extraordinarily entertaining and well-crafted film. It was one of the most popular detective mysteries ever made. Film historians consider it the first in the dark film noir genre. It left the audience with a down-beat attitude and bitter conclusion. It seemed that women were portrayed as evil scheming creatures that used their sexuality to destroy the men they encountered.
Sam Spade was a hard-boiled detective that got caught up in a murderous search for a priceless statue. Later in the movie, the one they found was a fake.
In this film Spade also took the case of a beautiful secretive woman, Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor). She claimed to be looking for her missing sister, who is involved with a man named Floyd Thursby. After receiving a sizable retainer Spade agreed to take her case. Trouble really starts soon after she showed up. Archer agreed to follow her that night and help get her sister back.
That night Spade got a phone call that his partner Miles Archer (Jerry Cowan) was murdered. He calls Miss Wonderly and finds she has checked out of the motel. Thursby was also murdered that same night. Spade is grilled by the police and suspected of murdering Thursby who probably murdered Archer. Archer’s widow Iva (Gladys George) thinks Spade shot his partner so he could have her.
Spade is soon approached by a man (Peter Lorre) wanting him to locate a valuable statue the bejeweled Maltese falcon.
Later Spade meets Wonderly and she tells him that Thursby was her partner and probably killed Archer and says she has no idea who killed Thursby. Spade investigates the murders and finds out that there is a number of corrupt, deceitful villains all mixed up in wanting to find the priceless statue the Maltese falcon.