The second version of Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, somewhat disguised (doubtless because the novel had been filmed only five years earlier): the Fat Man becomes a dignified dowager, Joel Cairo is turned into a languid Englishman, and the falcon is replaced by Roland's fabled horn, stuffed with jewels by the Saracens to silence it after the hero's death. It doesn't bear comparison with the 1941 Huston version, mainly because Sam Spade (here 'Ted Shane'), as played by Warren William with an eye to the success of The Thin Man, is a cavalier, wisecracking ladies' man-about-town; the darker overtones of the Huston film are therefore elided, and his final unmasking of Bette Davis goes for nothing by comparison with the two-way Bogart-Astor 'betrayal'. 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.
Satan Met a Lady
Cast and crew