Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Maltese Falcon - #31 Greatest American Movie

Sarah and I chipped away at our goal of seeing all of the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.  It's not exactly comprehensive because they have to be American movies, but it's a good place to start to find some great movies.  This weekend, we hit another Bogart classic, The Maltese Falcon.
This is a pretty simple movie with a classic mystery plot.  A tangled web of characters are trying to lay claim to a mysterious missing treasure - the Maltese Falcon - a gem, encrusted gold bird from ancient Malta.  Humphrey Bogart is a private detective who gets wrangled into the search for the bird by a beautiful woman.  There is the expected romantic drama between the two as each tries to use the other and considers the possibility that despite their better judgement they might be falling for each other. 
[Spoiler Alert] Revealing the point of the movie, at the very end, after the bird is discovered and revealed to be a fake, after most of the characters are either captured or have escaped, Bogart lovingly cradles the falcon as he walks out the door.  A cop asks, "What is that thing anyway?"  In Bogart's deep, wry voice, he answers, "The stuff dreams are made of."  Leaving the audience to wonder if all our dreams are farces or if only our quixotic, get-rich-quick dreams suffer Bogart's judgment.  Either way, it pushes us toward a critical evaluation of our own dreams - something that's always healthy.
Although there is an element of mystery and suspense, in the end, I felt like the plot was basically predictable.  You just kind of get the feeling that it will work out this way.  Still a good movie.
The Josh rating: JJJ.
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