September 14, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it an A+

Though Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon had been filmed twice before John Huston got to it (in 1931 and 1936), neither version really caught the Hammett essence. But the 1941 The Maltese Falcon is one of the most accomplished screen adaptations of a literary work ever made. Huston, in his debut as a writer-director, finds the perfect visual equivalent for Hammett’s tangy prose in almost every frame. And his cast couldn’t be better, with Humphrey Bogart the embodiment of the cynical but honest detective hero Sam Spade. A+

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