Books and Movies Reviews

Making of The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon, a novel, was conceived and written by Dashiell Hammett.John Huston adhered closely to the original work when he wrote the screenplay for the film.He stayed true to its structure, chronology of events, characters, dialogue, and settings.On May 22, 1941, Hal B. Wallis, an executive producer at Warner Bros., sent the chief casting executive a memo.The memo pretty much instructed him to send Huston's screenplay to actor George Raft as soon as it was completed.
Raft read the screenplay two days after Huston finished it.Raft disliked it and rejected it. He told Jack L. Warner that The Maltese Falcon was not an important picture and that he would not perform in anything but important pictures (Richardson 37).This statement wasn't completely unwarranted.Huston was an untested director and two other film versions of The Maltese Falcon had already bombed twice at the box office.Raft also had a bad experience when he played a part in The Glass Key, which was another film based on a novel by Hammett.
Incidentally, there is a funny story about how Warner Bros. obtained the rights for The Maltese Falcon from the thirty-six-year-old Dashiell Hammett.Jacob Wilk's son, ten-year-old Max Wilk, liked to read Black Mask magazine (free magazines were sent to the Wilk home in the hope that Jacob would find something he wanted to turn into a movie).One afternoon in 1929, Max Wilk sat down to read THE MALTESE FALCON, Chapter 1.Max was hooked and sped through the story until he was stopped cold by reading "To be continued in our next issue" (Sperber and Lax 149).
Max told his father about the story and that he needed to know what happened.The next evening, Jacob Wilk, a Warner Bros. executive, told his son that he'd called the Black Mask editor and asked for the rest of the story.But The Maltese Falcon almost did not fall into the hands of Warner Bros.Paramount briefl…

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