July 24, 2012

Tuff Fest II: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

I remember once hearing a quote by Ice Cube in response to someone asking him about his success as an actor.  Ice Cube's "success" as an actor is, obviously, subjective, but the fact remains that a lot of people really enjoy his work.  The question in question was in relation to why he thought so many rap stars, himself included, were able to so easily make the leap from the recorded medium to that of the filmed.  His response was, roughly, that he thought that people who became successful rappers had something in them, so undeniable spark, that pushed them to put everything they had into anything they did.  That they grew up in an environment that forced them to always work at exactly 100%, otherwise they wouldn't amount to anything.  As a result, everything they attempted, they did their absolute damnedest to be the best.  John Huston is a person of similar ilk.

(read more after the break)

John Huston did it all.  Seriously, read his wiki page for, like, a small taste of what this man was up to during his life.  The Maltese Falcon is the first movie he was allowed to take the reins of, and certainly not the last.  Prior to directing TMF, he had become a well renowned screenplay writer, almost solely because he felt like being one, and was given a shot at directing basically so he would stop bothering the Warner Brothers (it's more complex then that, but that works for now). Unlike the unfortunate case of Charles Laughton's first volley into the world of directing, this genius piece of work was well received, and rightfully so.

John Huston took one heck of a risk, using his first real shot at directing to adapt a book that already had a film adaptation that, just 10 years earlier, was not very successful.  But, being the rap-star-at-heart that he was, he pushed it at 100% the whole time, creating the slick, lean thriller that is The Maltese Falcon.

Every piston firing, every piece working in near perfect tandem, there are few clues to the fact that this is Huston's first proper directorial attempt.  There are a few moments where it feels a little slow, or shots that linger a little too long, but, really, these are only minor quibbles, easily dismissed.  The fact remains that The Maltese Falcon, to this day, feels fresh and engaging, from the first scene to the last.  Believe the hype.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

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