The Maltese Falcon – Movie Review- Not a classic as touted by the critics

Yes Angel, I’m gonna send you over, but chances are you get off with life. That means if you are a good girl you’’ll be out in 20 years, I’’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’’ll always remember you”

Sam Spade- Played by Humphrey Bogart

The Maltese Falcon, released in 1941  is a movie directed by John Huston. It is an adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Dashiell Hammet. The movie is considered as a classic by many and a pioneer in the Film Noir genre.

The movie revolves around the chase for a falcon statue which was considered as priceless. It is believed that it was made by the knight of Malta in 1539 in order to honor Charles V of Spain. But the falcon never reached the intended recipient since it was seized by the pirates.

The film starts with a lady (Mary Astor) entering the office of private investigator Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and ask him to shadow a person who is stalking her sister. That person gets killed as well as the assistant of the private investigator during the course of a night. The story gets murkier when the private investigator finds out that the lady was spinning a yarn and she has many things to hide. As the story progresses more and more people get involved in the chase for the falcon, including Peter Lorre who was employed by a fat man (Sydney Greenstreet) who has been chasing the falcon for many years.

The lady knows the whereabouts of the falcon. She along with the Private investigator gets into a deal with the fat man for exchange of the falcon.  The story gets into a climax where the falcon remains a mystery and untraceable.

The movie is well made and watchable even after 79 years of its release. The dialogues are sharp and crisp. All the actors have essayed their parts neatly. The cinematography by Arthur Edeson is worth mentioning. John Huston could draw a neat picture of criminals, but can the movie be considered as a classic or a great crime narrative when viewed in 2020 or even in the last century? The answer would be a big NO .So why people think it is a classic? Before getting into the question let me point out the reasons for not considering it a classic.

  • The film is not the edge of the seat thriller as many would like you to believe
  • The story is predictable, and everything happens effortlessly
  • The hero, Sam Spade, seems to be a super man with an instant solution for everything
  • The film does not grow on you. You just watch the movie scene by scene without feeling the story or the characters
  • The fight scenes look ridiculous. One thud and you fall unconscious!!!

Now let us analyze why some people consider it as a classic.

  • It was the pioneer of film noir genre
  • It was a new experience for the audience of the era, something they have never experienced before. The first experience tends to stick with you lifelong.
  • The characterization was different with everybody having grey shades. The hero is not an epitome of virtue. He has no qualms while siding with the wrong side of the law. He is selfish and plays his cards well. Further Humphry Bogart has played the part to perfection, which catapulted him to a Hollywood icon.

The above points apply to many movies including Casablanca and Citizen Kane. It is human tendency to blindly accept and support what is widely considered as iconic without questioning them for fear of being ridiculed. It is time we did unbiased reviews of these movies without attaching any sentimental values.

Oh boy, Did I say anything sacrilege?

Please post your comments even if you differ with my view.


Joker – Movie Review: Marching towards Oscar

Joker, directed by Todd Philips tells the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown and an aspiring stand up comedian. Life is difficult for Arthur and rightfully he holds a grudge against society as a whole.

The film depicts how constant rejections and child hood scars results in to gradual degeneration of mind. Arthur is a loner, looked down up on by the society. He has a certain condition which makes him laugh at inappropriate times. He lives alone with his ailing mother.

The movie is set in the early eighties on the background of a rotting Gotham city where the rich and mighty holds the sway with poor people pushed to the margin. The elite class is represented by Thomas Wayne, the mayoral candidate, whom Arthur suspects to be his father. He confronts Wayne, but goes completely out of mind when he discovers the truth.

The dialogues are crisp and touches your sole. The cinematography by Lawrence Sher is magnificent and captures the mood of the story to perfection. Music by Hildur Guðnadóttir is haunting to say the least.

The direction by Todd Philips is top class. He shoots straight into your heart. Zazie Beetz and Frances conroy do full justice to their roles as Arthur’s love interest and mother respectively. But the film is all the way a Joaquin Phoenix show. His performance is iconic and essays the role with aplomb, His psychotic vibes will send shivers down the spine. His eyes convey angst, pain, anger and tenderness to perfection which we have not seen on the silver screen in a long time. His dance on the stairs and the climax interview with Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) stand apart. “How about another joke Murray” will keep ringing in your ears even after you leave the theatre. You will not be surprised if Joker sweeps the Oscar including the awards for the best movie and the actor.

Once upon a time in Hollywood-Review

Once upon a time in Hollywood, directed by Quentin Tarantino is unlike any of his films. Tarantino movies are full of violent action and gore that shakes you of out of your comfort zone.

The movie is extremely slow paced and you would wonder what exactly is happening and where the maverick director is leading you. It keeps you guessing how the director is going to piece together the different sets of jigsaws that was flashing on the screen for near about two hours.


The real action starts in the last 30 minutes and you are riveted to your seat till the tittle credit roles up. It indeed is a violent storm after an inordinate lull.

The story is about Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) an actor who is struggling to cope up with the changing Hollywood and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who is his stunt double. It is a unique relation shared by Rick and Cliff. More than a stunt doble, Cliff takes care of everything and acts like Rick’s Man Friday. Rick is emotional while Cliff is calm. The story is also based on the murder of Hollywood actress Shane Tate, which shook the Hollywood in 1969. But Tarantino takes the artistic liberty of spinning this tragic event according to his own fantasy.


The film has some outstanding performances. Brad Pitt gives an exceptional performance as the calm but tough stunt man. Margot Robbie as Shane Tate is a delight to watch. Just see the scene where she goes to a movie hall and asks for a ticket. The expressions on her face when she watches herself on screen, her counter reactions to the reactions of crowd watching her performance is top class. Leonardo DiCaprio is convincing as the struggling actor. Unfortunately Al pacino did not have much to perform and is wasted.

Whether you love it or hate it, Tarantino once again cements his place as one of the best directors of our times. Blame the slow nature of the movie or the lack of zing you expect from Tarantino, the film remains one of the best films produced in 2019 and has obtained 10 nominations in the upcoming Oscars. In the hands of a lesser director, the movie would have been a disaster. That brings us to the question, If not Tarantino, who else could have directed this movie?