The version I saw is apparently the third filmed version of Dashiell Hammett's legendary novel. I saw the Humphrey Bogart one, which is the one that people talk about when they refer to The Maltese Falcon
Bogart (who is not a pretty man) stars as detective Sam Spade of Spade and Archer detectives. A young woman shows up and asks for the firms help in finding her sister. Spade's partner is then killed, which leads Spade to question just what the hell is going on.
To complicate matters, Spade was having an affair with his partners wife, which leads the cops to think that he may have been involved.
And where does the Maltese Falcon fight in?
This is an excellent film. The only complaint I might have is that the love interest is underplayed: there's no real reason for them to be in love. However, this is made up for by the fantastic conclusion to that love.
Sam Spade is not only a great detective, he's also a dick. Which is great. And since he doesn't work for the cops, he doens't have to worry about having his badge and his gun taken.
The second film was Alfred Hitchcock's:
Dial M for Murder
This was based on a play and later remade as A Perfect Murder with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. Almost all the action takes place in one room and it's easy to see how this would have worked as a play.
We begin by finding out that the lead woman has been having an affair with an American crime novelist. The novelist is back in London, and she's going to see him again. While out, we find out that her husband knows that she's been cheating, and that he plans on killing her. He blackmails a man into attempting the job for him, and details every possibility. He calmly tells him his plan. Then we the viewer are left to figure out if it's going to happen like he said and what mistakes will be made. As the plot progresses the twists become more complex and interesting.
To be honest I wasn't quite sure who I should root for in this film, the murdering husband or his cheating wife.
This is another great movie.
Both of these films have extremely small casts and are filmed differently than the films of today. No time is wasted. If a character has to get to another place, very rarely do we see the character going there. There's just a edit and the character is opening a new door. Also, they don't have soundtracks but rather classical music to set the tone.