The Maltese Falcon
Who invented film noir? Some might point the finger at John Huston, who made his directorial debut in 1941 with this adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel. Humphrey Bogartin the role that made him a starplays cynical private detective Sam Spade, who gets involved in the hunt for a valuable statuette stuffed with jewels and, not incidentally, "the stuff dreams are made of." Along the way he encounters double-crosses, murder, strange characters (two of them played by the ever-hammy Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet), and a femme fatale (Mary Astor)in other words, all the usual suspects that every subsequent noir worth its celluloid had to have. Plus, the sparkling guttersnipe dialogue set the pace for the eraas Spade says, "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter."