After spending a requisite amount of time in the filmmaking trenches as screenwriter (Jezebel, High Sierra, Sergeant York, Juarez), first-time director John Huston, began his career (much like Orson Welles) by creating a masterpiece.
The Maltese Falcon is one of cinema’s greatest works, and now at 70, and arriving on Blu-ray from Warner Bros., has stood the test of time to perfection.
The mention of Mr. Welles’ Citizen Kane comes into play here as an interesting comparison. Both cinematographers began working in the silent era. Kane photographed by the great Gregg Toland (The Winning of Barbara Worth, Tugboat Annie, History is Made at Night, Dead End, Wuthering Heights, The Grapes of Wrath, The Westerner, The Little Foxes, The Best Years of Our Lives, Song of the South) and Falcon by the brilliant Arthur Edeson (The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, The Lost World, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Big Trail, Frankenstein, Mutiny on the Bounty, Casablanca).
Take a look at the two films back to back, and you’ll realize that both make use of wide angle lenses, and both do something that was extremely unusual for the time. Ceilings.
I’ve seen The Maltese Falcon in various prints over the decades in both original 16mm as well as 35mm incarnations, and the new Blu-ray comes off beautifully. Gray scale is wide and luscious, black are solid, grain, which may have received a bit of digital aid, especially in dupes, looks very film-like. Overall a beautiful digitally cleaned image.
The requisite mono track is clean and full-bodied.
The single negative comment that I can make is that I deplore the eco cases, which don’t provide enough protection for the disc within, especially for shipping. As these cases won’t be heading for either the landfill or the melting pot, I don’t see the point of the down-grade.
One of the greatest films in the history of the cinema, and a must-own for any serious library.
Very Highly Recommended.