(1) The movie defined Humphrey Bogart’s performances for the rest of his life; his hard-boiled Sam Spade rescued him from a decade of middling roles in B gangster movies and positioned him for “Casablanca,” “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “The African Queen” and his other classics.
(2) It was the first film directed by John Huston, who for more than 40 years would be a prolific maker of movies that were muscular, stylish and daring.
(3) It contained the first screen appearance of Sydney Greenstreet, who went on, in “Casablanca” and many other films, to become one of the most striking character actors in movie history.
(4) It was the first pairing of Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, and so well did they work together that they made nine other movies, including “Casablanca” in 1942 and “The Mask of Dimitrios” (1944), in which they were not supporting actors but actually the stars.
(5) And some film histories consider “The Maltese Falcon” the first film noir. It put down the foundations for that native American genre of mean streets, knife-edged heroes, dark shadows and tough dames.
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