Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sam Spade

Private detective Sam Spade was created by American author Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961). Surprisingly Sam Spade only appeared in one novel - The Maltese Falcon (1930) - and three short stories by Hammett.

The Maltese Falcon was first published and serialized in the pulp magazine Black Mask.The archetypal hard-boiled detective, Sam Spade was a great influence on Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe.


The Maltese Falcon (1931) Directed by Roy Del Ruth. 80mins.

Bebe Daniels     -     Ruth Wonderly
Ricardo Cortez     -     Sam Spade
Dudley Digges     -     Casper Gutman
Una Merkel     -     Effie Perine
Robert Elliott     -     Detective Lt. Dundy
Thelma Todd     -     Iva Archer
Dwight Frye     -     Wilmer Cook

Ricardo Cortez was the first actor to play Sam Spade, Humphrey Bogart is the only other actor to play Spade on screen.

Satan Met a Lady (1936) Directed by William Dieterle. 74mins

Bette Davis     -     Valerie Purvis
Warren William     -     Ted Shane
Alison Skipworth     -     Madame Barabbas
Arthur Treacher     -     Anthony Travers
Marie Wilson     -     Miss Murgatroyd
Winifred Shaw     -     Astrid Ames
Porter Hall     -     Milton Ames

A loose reworking of The Maltese Falcon with the names changed. Here the villains are not after the Falcon but an old Ram's Horn stuffed with jewels.

"Thanks to Dieterle's stylishly witty direction and excellent performances, it's nevertheless enjoyably and quirkily funny, at least until just before the end, when a whole wedge of undigested plot exposition suddenly catches up with the action." (Time Out)

Detective Polhaus: [picks up the falcon] Heavy. What is it?
Sam Spade: The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.  

The Maltese Falcon (1941) Directed by John Huston. 100mins

Humphrey Bogart     -     Sam Spade
Mary Astor     -     Brigid O'Shaughnessy
Gladys George     -     Iva Archer
Peter Lorre     -     Joel Cairo
Barton MacLane     -     Lt. of Detectives Dundy
Lee Patrick     -     Effie Perine
Sydney Greenstreet     -     Kasper Gutman
Ward Bond     -     Detective Tom Polhaus
Jerome Cowan     -     Miles Archer
Elisha Cook Jr.     -     Wilmer Cook

George Raft turned the lead role down, he also turned down the lead in Casablanca, the two films that turned Bogart into a Hollywood icon.

The movie debut of English stage actor Sydney Greenstreet. In the novel Sam Spade was blonde, had a hook nose and was over 6ft tall.

Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet). Ranked #31 on the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest American Films list (2007 ed.) Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1989.

(The statuette of the Maltese Falcon used in the film was sold for over $4m at a New York auction in November 2013. The identity of the bidder has not been revealed)

The Black Bird (1975) Directed by David Giler. 110mins.

George Segal     -     Sam Spade Jr.
St├ęphane Audran     -     Anna Kemidov
Lionel Stander     -     Gordon Immerman
Lee Patrick     -     Effie Perine
Elisha Cook Jr.     -     Wilmer Cook
Felix Silla     -     Litvak
Signe Hasso     -     Dr. Crippen

Music by Jerry Fielding.

A comedy sequel to The Maltese Falcon (1941) with George Segal playing the son of Sam Spade, inheriting his father's agency.

Elisha Cook and Lee Patrick reprise their roles from the Bogart version.

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