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‘Maltese Falcon’ turns 80: Watch it any way you can

Dan Webster

Above: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet star in "The Maltese Falcon." (Photo: Turner Classic Movies)

Up until the pandemic forced most movie theaters to close, I would regularly write blog posts about the upcoming features presented by Fathom Events.

One of my favorite of the regularly scheduled events was when the company, through Turner Classic Movies, would screen its TCM Big Screen Classics series, which typically marked some anniversary or other.

Example: Even though both major movie chains that serve Spokane have closed their respective theaters, other states still are showing films. And so that even though the email that I just received from Fathom Events doesn’t apply locally, it does apply to movie fans in Boise.

They, then, will be able to head to Boise’s Cinemark Majestic Cinemas 18 on Sunday, Jan. 24, and Wednesday, Jan. 27, to see an 80th-anniversary screening of the 1941 film “The Maltese Falcon.”

You’re familiar, of course, with the film. Based on the 1930 mystery novel by Dashiell Hammett (serialized the year before in Black Mask magazine), “The Maltese Falcon” was directed and co-written (with Hammett) by John Huston and stars Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Ward Bond, Elisha Cook Jr. and various others

My assumption that the film is familiar to most people is based on the simple fact that – as TCM clearly knows – it is one of the classic films of the 20th century. It now ranks at No. 31 of the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time.

Yes, though nominated for three Academy Awards, it won nothing – showing the kind of bias that Hollywood traditionally has had against genre films.

So, this particular blog post is one of those good-news, bad-news notices. The bad news is that, unless something drastic occurs over the next couple of weeks – or unless you’re interested in driving to Boise – you won’t be able to celebrate the 80th anniversary of “The Maltese Falcon” by watching it on a big screen.

The good news? It’s available for steaming through any number of services, from Amazon Prime to YouTube, Vudu to Google Play. And, of course, you can always order a copy in DVD or Blu-ray format.

The small screen is good enough for me. At least for now.

Someday soon, though …

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