The Maltese Falcon Movie Poster Image

The Maltese Falcon



Excellent, but too mature for the littlest kids.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1941
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Subtle prejudice against less-than macho Joel Cairo and Wilmer, who are (in the mildest 1940 terms) implied to be gay.


Some suspense, scuffles, threats of violence.


Implication that Spade was having an affair with Archer's wife.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this crime drama has some intense scenes and a little drinking. While there's little in the way of objectionable content, this film noir is too dark for little ones.

What's the story?

In this classic film noir, private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets a visit from Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor), who asks him to help find her sister. Sam sends his partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) to follow her when she meets Floyd Thursby, the man she thinks her sister is with, and both Archer and Thursby are killed. It turns out that the woman is really Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and it turns out it is not her sister she is seeking, but a small, jeweled statue of a falcon, and she's mixed up with some people who will do anything to get it. One of those people is Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), who comes to see Sam to insist -- with a gun -- that he be allowed to search Sam's office to see if it is there. Sam is not at all intimidated by Joel, but allows him to search. Also after the statue is Mr. Gutman, "the fat man" (Sidney Greenstreet), with his "gunsel," Wilmer. They alternately threaten and attempt to bribe Sam, while Brigid appeals to his protective nature and his heart. But Sam turns them all over to the police, including Brigid, whom he loves.

Is it any good?


One of the most interesting aspects of this classic movie is the way that Sam Spade thinks though the moral dilemmas. When he is deciding whether to tell the police about Brigid, he is very explicit about weighing every aspect of his choices. It is not an easy decision for him; he has no moral absolutes. On one hand, he loves her, and he didn't think much of his partner. On the other, he doesn't trust her, he doesn't think she trusts him, and he knows that they could not go on together, each waiting to betray or be betrayed. If he turns her over to the police, he loses her. But if he doesn't, he loses a part of himself, his own kind of integrity.

When this movie was made, moviegoers were used to cool, debonair detectives (like Philo Vance and Nick Charles, both played by William Powell), a sort of cross between Sherlock Holmes and Fred Astaire. But Sam Spade, created by Dashiell Hammett based on his experiences as a detective, was a modern day version of the cowboy, a loner with his own sense of honor.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what Sam means when he says the statue is "the stuff dreams are made of." Where is Sam faced with moral conflicts? How does he resolve them? What are his reasons?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 18, 1941
DVD/Streaming release date:February 15, 2000
Cast:Gladys George, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor
Director:John Huston
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old July 2, 2009


It was a good movie in general but they had some bad role models.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion May 23, 2009

A Suspenseful and Thoughtful Thriller...

THE MALTESE FALCON is a great, thrilling movie, and a prime example of how great stories never fade with age. It's a great one to show kids who like thrillers or appreciate classics. There are some tense scenes, and one man is shot onscreen. Another is seen after he's been shot, but there is no blood or gore. Sam is said to have an affair with his partner's wife, it is implied that he and Brigid O'Shaughnessy slept together. There is a lot of drinking and smoking, and several characters double-cross each other and have criminal motives, though the Bogart character always stays straight.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byAleksandra April 9, 2008

Good Movie

The first time I watched this movie was bored by it. The second time I loved it. A good movie for kids over 1. Nothing bad in it just younger kids may not understand it.


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