Based on Dashiel Hammett’s novel of the same name, the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon premiered in New York City on this day. The movie had been preceded ten years earlier by another version, and a separate incarnation, Satan Met a Lady, was released in 1936. John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon is often pointed to as the beginning of the film noir genre, which, through the director’s stylistic exploration, set up parameters that later noirs would be compared to. His forsaking of plot in order to focus on the story’s mean, gritty characters intuitively established one of the major definitions of genre, which frequently lack a sensible linear plot.
Factoid: Even though it was 20 years since his first movie, The Maltese Falcon turned out to be Humphrey Bogart’s breakthrough role. Having acted in mostly generic gangster movies prior, he went on to star in classics Casablanca (1942) and The African Queen (1951).