The Maltese Falcon
March 22, 2018
The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129 St.,
New York, NY 10027
1941 / 101 min / b/w
Dir. John Huston / Scr. John Huston
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre
Paris release: July 31, 1946
Adapted from: The Maltese Falcon (1930) by Dashiell Hammett
35mm print courtesy of Swank
This screening is part of The Inaugural Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: Paris 1946 and American Film Noir
Programmed by Rob King, Film and Media Studies
"The immediate source of film noir is obviously the hard-boiled detective novel of American or English origin. Dashiell Hammett, whose earliest writings go back to around 1925, is both the creator of this new American literary current and an author whose talent largely transcends the framework of the genre (as does Georges Simenon in French). The latent homosexuality of his characters has almost always disappeared when their adventures have been transferred to the screen (The Glass Key). But then the fact that the first great film noir is precisely The Maltese Falcon, adapted from one of his finest tales, underlines Dashiell Hammett’s importance. […]
It must be said that the first few [noir] movies are not the product of original screenplays. From 1941 to 1945 the series is not yet a constituted genre, with its rules and stereotypes, its professional writers or its public: over a period of four years the titles are few. It may be assumed, then, that Hollywood producers have proceeded as usual. A new kind of detective novel began having a certain success, so they tried to adapt the same themes to the screen. This they did with extreme prudence, however. […] Backing was extremely limited: a mere handful of low-budget films was the result.
The Maltese Falcon suffers from this lack of means: there are a lot of apartment scenes, few characters, no extras, a dearth of technical innovation. A star is called in, Humphrey Bogart, who appears to be over the hill (but who will in fact carve out a new career in the series), and a director, John Huston, whose first film this is. […]
In short, there is at first, and for seemingly financial reasons, a total submission of the cinema to literature."
– Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton, Panorama du film noir américain, 1941-1953
About the Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Paris 1946. The war is over and American films are once again in Parisian theaters. The French immediately notice a shift in the sensibility of Hollywood’s crime films. They call it noir.
This festival—the first in a ten-year series devoted to the legacy of film noir—returns us to that pivotal moment in film history some seven decades ago. For its inaugural year, the Kit Film Noir Festival will present eight of the films that screened in France that season and inspired the label film noir. Most films will be shown in 35mm.
This festival is funded by a generous gift from alumnus Gordon Kit (Columbia College ’76), in honor of his parents.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org