We all know the old saying, "Third time's a charm..." and in many instances, that statement can be truthful. However, when it comes to movies, that isn't often the case. Sequels are rarely as good as their predecessors and remakes typically don't need to be made.
However, the story of the elusive Maltese Falcon was so enchanting that Warner Bros. decided to make three different versions in one decade. The first, a 1931 version was ok, while the second entitled, "Satan Met a Lady", was more of a spoof on the plot and the third go around, The Maltese Falcon became a classic film. As part of their 100-year celebration, Warner Bros. is releasing the movie on 4K for the first time.
Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor; The Great Lie) walks into Spade and Archer private investigators office and tells Sam (Humphrey Bogart; Casablanca) and Miles (Jerome Cowan; Miracle on 34th Street) a tall tale about her sister running away with an older man. Despite easily seeing through her lie, the PIs decide to take her case. However, when Miles is murdered Sam must find out what is really going on before he too winds up dead or in jail.
Many people feel The Maltese Falcon is when Bogart became "Bogie". He exuded a calm and cool demeanor that made guys want to grab a beer with him and make women want to date him. His character has some definite flaws yet you can't help but want to like him. Peter Lorre (Arsenic and Old Lace) added just the right amount of creepiness needed to portray a shifty, double-crossing Joel Cairo. Astor, Gladys George (The Best Years of Our Lives), and Lee Patrick (Mildred Pierce) represented women of that time well with a special nod the Patrick whose character did pretty much anything asked by Spade without flinching.
Upgrading The Maltese Falcon to Native 4K resolution offers excellent results. The film is visibly brighter and cleaner, almost like a freshly polished car. There is some slight artifacting that ranges from barely noticeable to glaringly obvious but the latter moments don't appear very often making the film a pleasure to watch.
The audio, on the other hand, could use more of an upgrade. I never understand why so much time and energy is spent on the visual upgrade while little attention is given to the audio. However, there is an upgrade to DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono mix which is noticeable in various spots. There is less "hissing" throughout making the overall experience enjoyable.
Besides the addition to the audio commentary on the 4K disc, all of the other previously released extras are housed on the Blu-ray Disc. They include: the same Audio Commentary, The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird, Breakdowns of 1941, Makeup Tests, Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart, Warner Night at the Movies and Radio Show Adaptations (3 clips). Some of the featurettes are very brief while others run over 30 minutes long.
Writer/director John Huston (The African Queen) made an incredible impact on the film industry with The Maltese Falcon and it is easy to see why. The plot may be a little messy but his direction keeps the pace flowing and reminds viewers of Bogart's talent in every scene. Warner Bros. restoration was lovingly done and elevates this Library of Congress National Film Registry entry even higher than it was before.
Classic film fans will delight in bringing this 4K combo pack home or offering it as a gift for Mother's or Father's Day. For younger generations, this is a perfect introduction to the world of 1940s film noir.
Well done Warner Bros.