The Maltese Falcon

No, this 1931 adaptation of the Dashiell Hammett novel isn’t as good as John Huston’s a decade later, but it has a few quirky virtues of its own, including brevity (at 80 minutes, it’s 20 minutes shorter than the Bogart version). The underrated Roy del Ruth, a fixture at Warners, directed quite capably, and the cast is offbeat if not always convincing: Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, Una Merkel as his secretary, Bebe Daniels as his lovely client, and Dudley Digges as the scheming Casper Gutman. (JR)

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