Cautions: some deceit, mild sensuality, brief slang, and mild violence
The Maltese Falcon has two men murdered in the first ten minutes, and then the plot thickens. Humphrey Bogart is the witty, deadpan Sam Spade, a detective forced to play the crook in order to trap a set of ruthless criminals, protect the girl, and avoid being arrested for the shooting of his partner, moving closer and closer to the mysterious and unimaginably valuable prize. While Sam Spade does ultimately walk away from evil, his initial flirtations with it make The Maltese Falcon a movie better suited for older children and adults.
1941 | John Huston | 100 min Watch Trailer
Sam Spade lies to the police on one occasion, and instructs his secretary to lie to them on another, in order to avoid being arrested for a murder he didn’t commit. His intention is to buy time, not to clear the guilty, but he does knowingly withhold evidence.
Sam’s secretary puts off a harassing caller with lies. Sam indicates that, while he is confident an innocent person’s alibi is not true, he will let them use whatever story they want.
Sam, pretending to be a crook, deceives the villains.
There is occasional kissing, sometimes fairly passionate. One of those times Sam Spade kisses a woman in reply to the question of how she can buy his help, since she will not give him her confidence. This, however, does not lead anywhere.
Sam’s negatively-portrayed partner, a married man, shows obvious interest in a pretty woman. Sam later soberly remarks that the partner, seeing her alone, would have “looked you up and down, licked his lips and gone grinning from ear to ear.” Mention is made of a girl running away with a married man.
Sam’s secretary claims that he’ll want to see a visitor, potential customer or not, because of her looks.
A man is seen being shot and then falling down a hill (being a nighttime black-and-white shot, however, it is neither graphic nor particularly intense). Another man stumbles into a room, falls onto the sofa and dies, while a woman screams.
Men are mentioned to have been shot several times by their murderers.
Characters threaten Sam Spade with guns.
A ship is seen in flames, but no one is on it.
When a woman Sam Spade knows to have been putting on an act confesses that she’s “been bad, worse than you could know,” he responds positively, stating that if she was as innocent as she had pretended, they’d never get anywhere. This can either be taken as a “bad is good” philosophy, or, more likely, a hint that she was overdoing her good-girl playacting.
A rumor is circulated that Sam was having an affair with his partner’s wife, and while this is definitely not the case, the fact that people believe the rumor may be a reflection on Sam’s character.
The police are portrayed as effective when they’re on the right track, and “gumming up the works” when they’re not.
A villain claims that the Holy Wars of the Middle Ages were, to the knights involved, “a matter of loot.”
Characters drink alcohol a few times.
Cigarettes are seen throughout the movie.
Sam Spade’s secretary is a young woman. On one occasion he tells her, “You’re a good man, sister.”