It’s hard to think of many greater directorial débuts than John Huston’s first film, The Maltese Falcon. This iconic film noir is almost the first in its genre and also one of Humphrey Bogart’s earliest works.
The plot skips along at a breakneck speed. I gather Huston managed to shoot this in order, and that every scene they shot made it into the final edit. This efficiency seems to transfer to the screen, where not a word or movement is wasted.
The tension sneaks up on you in this one. By the end of the film your heart is racing and you aren’t quite sure how it got there.
Unforgettable performances, a dense atmosphere and an unpretentious but ultimately satisfying plot put The Maltese Falcon easily in the Pantheon of the greatest films ever made.