Reel Life #34: The Maltese Falcon and Adaptation.

The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)

The film noir. Indeed, The Maltese Falcon is one of those films that’s in the same category as Rashomon and Seven Samurai in that even if you haven’t seen it, I guarantee you’ve experienced a work it directly influenced (even if there were a few skipped generations in between). One could make the argument that certain aspects of it haven’t aged well and the tropes it helped pioneer have become played out by this point, but anyone interested in the genre owes it to themselves to check this film out. Humphrey Bogart’s character effortlessly manipulating everyone around him is a sight to behold.

Adaptation. (Spike Jonze, 2002)

Not many directors would be able to handle twice the Nicolas Cage, but Spike Jonze is no ordinary director. Fresh off of the mind trip known as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation. is the story of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s seemingly futile journey to adapt Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief to the silver screen. The results could only be described as one of the finest examples of postmodernism in the history of cinema. It’s very relatable if you’ve ever found yourself with writer’s block, but it manages to be personable enough so as to never come across as pretentious. If you’re looking for a film wherein Nicolas Cage has a full-on freakout, you won’t find it here, and while that may sound disappointing, I can safely say it’s one of his best performances.

7 thoughts on “Reel Life #34: The Maltese Falcon and Adaptation.

  1. Pingback: February 2021 in Summary: A Return to Form | Extra Life

  2. Adaptation was a higher level of crazy 😉 Cage is actually watchable there, which doesn’t happen often (or almost at all). As for The Maltese Falcon, I only watched it as a kid, so maybe it’s time for a re-watch 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, you see, I would argue that Nicolas Cage going crazy makes unremarkable/unwatchable films enjoyable. The thing about him is that he’s good in good movies and hilarious in bad ones. His whacked-out performance in the otherwise dreadful Deadfall is the stuff of legends. The worst film I’ve seen him in is Knowing, and that is entirely because it’s a bad film in which he doesn’t have a Cage-style freakout, which just made the bad writing stand out more. Regardless, I definitely think Adaptation. provides one of his best performances.

      Rewatching The Maltese Falcon is something I can get behind. Bogart was a force, to be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I caught the Maltese Falcon at our local summer drive-in theater a couple of years ago. Even 80 years later, and even for all the aspects that have gotten dated or made common and mundane, it really holds up well. It has a really nice through line, a way of connecting action to action, and it flows very well because of it. Bogart is absolutely shining in that movie, too. His character work is top notch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sure does. Everything about it really comes together nicely and that through line you speak of is definitely a major reason why it holds up so well. Anything with writing that air-tight is built to last. And, of course, there’s Bogart, who elevated pretty much everything he was in. Even knowing that, this was a stand-out performance.


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