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Trivia / The Maltese Falcon

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Ability over Appearance: Sam Spade of the book has no resemblance to Humphrey Bogart - as he's over six feet tall, with a hooked nose and blond hair. Yet the performance is iconic and turned him into a star.
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  • Actor-Inspired Element: Humphrey Bogart supplied his own wardrobe to keep costs down.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Mary Astor was familiar with the novel and signed on immediately after one meeting with John Huston. She described the script as "a humdinger".
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Done by Spade himself. He was paraphrasing a line from The Tempest, "Such stuff as dreams are made on."
  • Billing Displacement: Despite being billed third - under Peter Lorre and Sydeny Greenstreet, who are central characters and have much more dialogue - Gladys George as Iva Archer only has three scenes in the movie.
  • Breakthrough Hit: For John Huston.
  • Dawson Casting: Elisha Cook Jr. was 38 when the film came out, playing the "boy" Wilmer, who is described as "about twenty."
  • The Danza: Elisha Cook Jr. playing Wilmer Cook.
  • Enforced Method Acting: John Huston had Mary Astor run around the set several times before her scenes so that she would appear convincingly breathless and nervous.
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  • Executive Meddling: The studio insisted upon the scene where Miles is shot, against the director's intention to have all scenes from Sam Spade's POV.
  • Fake Nationality: Austro-Hungarian-American Peter Lorre plays the Greek Joel Cairo.
  • No Budget: Only made for $300,000 - which is roughly about $5 million in today's rates.
  • Production Posse: John Huston would later direct Humphrey Bogart and his father Walter in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. He would also work with Bogie in The African Queen.
  • Real-Life Relative: Captain Jacobi is played by John Huston's father, Walter Huston, as a good luck charm for his son's directorial debut.
  • Romance on the Set: Mary Astor was having an affair with John Huston during the making of the film.
  • Reality Subtext: Mary Astor was cast primarily because she was known for having a scandalous personal life, making her rather apt to play Brigid.
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  • Star-Making Role: Sam Spade was the role that really put Humphrey Bogart on the map as a plausible leading man.
  • Those Two Actors: Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre would go on to make nine more movies together.
  • Trolling Creator:
    • John Huston organised various pranks that the cast would play whenever members of the public visited the set. For example, Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet would stage a vicious row if the director said "number five".
    • Walter Huston trolled his son by deliberately fumbling his walk-on cameo, so they would have to shoot multiple takes.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • George Raft was originally cast as Sam Spade. He allegedly turned it down because it was "not an important picture," taking advantage of a clause in his contract that said he did not have to work on remakes. He also didn't want to put his career in the hands of a first-time director. Other candidates included Henry Fonda, Frederic March, Anthony Quinn and Edward G. Robinson.
    • Olivia de Havilland, Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman were considered for Brigid.
    • The movie Three Strangers was originally scripted as a sequel to this, with many of the original characters reappearing. However it was discovered that, while Warner Bros had the rights to the original novel, they did not have the rights to the characters. So Three Strangers was filmed with different characters, though Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet starred.
  • Working Title: Warner Bros. planned to change the name of the film to The Gent from Frisco or The Knight of Malta because the novel's title had already been used for a version in 1931 The studio eventually agreed to keep the original title at John Huston's insistence.
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