Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

You know what, if you choose to watch open-air cinema in Luxembourg, you might be a bit cold; you might need a warm jacket or even a raincoat. But it's worth it.

" I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble. " says Sam Spade and you bet means it. That's the kind of man he is; he says he talks too much, only to manipulate and intervene in con-plots to be dismantled; he moves about looking for mess, money and women. Humphrey Bogart teams up with some first-rate big-time crooks, rather he is obliged to, searching for a rare historic item, The Maltese Falcon. First, an attractive woman runs into his detective office searching for help which Sam Spade is ready to provide amply, taking for granted the two hundred dollar fee he gets for starters. He always likes to help the ladies. Even when his associate is killed  on duty, he doesn't pull out of the complicated case. Later on, he doesn't have a choice. An eccentric criminal finely played by Peter Lorre asks for help, so does another one,   Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet in real life), obsessed with the story and the item and nominated for an Oscar in a supporting role for his determination.

Mary Astor is not less satisfactory in the skin of a mysterious femme fatale, but the eponymous Brigid O'Shaughnessy is seriously less successful in her handling of Sam Spade in the end. Not only she gets hooked on him to be betrayed, but she ends up in prison for her reckless acts as well. Hard times for femmes fatales, good times for Dashiell Hammett who wrote a detective story full of twists, which I've kept on my bookshelf for decades before I get the chance to watch the well-crafted script by John Huston on a big summer screen set up the patio of Theatre des Capucins, courtesy of the Cinematheque Luxembourg with love for all devoted cinema lovers yet to leave the country.

* Even if a classic detective story, it is a very entertaining one and unlike the one you have in mind. Excellent dialogues, imbued with sarcasm and male power -more than girl power, that's for sure- that leave you wonder why characters on screen don't talk like that any more...

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