Bringing The Maltese Falcon to the screen as Warners have done was no easy job. But director Roy Del Ruth lets things take their course and, with a naturally nonchalant although extremely odd private detective in Ricardo Cortez, takes his audience out of the screen story rut for a series of surprise incidents and a totally different finis.
Although four men are murdered and two corpses revealed to the audience, the story treatment [from Dashiell Hammett’s novel] and the Cortez smile are such that a quick thrill is permitted, a laugh, and then, through the first 75% of the footage, additionally interest to well-sustained curiosity.
It can’t be called naughty, even though Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly spends the second night in the elaborate apartment of this unusual private detective.
The mystery element is so flung about that not until the last reel or so does the most studious follower know who did any of the killings. Meantime a number of clever gags happen through Sam Spade in disarming people, then apologizing; taking money and then having it taken from him; making love one minute and turning the girl over to the police the next.