Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery
Runtime: 101 minutes
The Maltese Falcon Still the tightest, sharpest, and most cynical of Hollywood's official deathless classics, bracingly tough even by post-Tarantino standards. Humphrey Bogart is Dashiell Hammett's definitive private eye, Sam Spade, struggling to keep his hard-boiled cool as the double-crosses pile up around his ankles. The plot, which dances all around the stolen Middle Eastern statuette of the title, is too baroque to try to follow, and it doesn't make a bit of difference. The dialogue, much of it lifted straight from Hammett, is delivered with whip-crack speed and sneering ferocity, as Bogie faces off against Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet, fends off the duplicitous advances of Mary Astor, and roughs up a cringing "gunsel" played by Elisha Cook Jr. It's an action movie of sorts, at least by implication: the characters always seem keyed up, right on the verge of erupting into violence. This is a turning-point picture in several respects: John Huston (The African Queen) made his directorial debut here in 1941, and Bogart, who had mostly played bad guys, was a last-minute substitution for George Raft, who must have been kicking himself for years afterward. This is the role that made Bogart a star and established his trendsetting (and still influential) antihero persona. --David Chute Casablanca A truly perfect movie, Casablanca (1942) still wows viewers today, and for good reason. Its unique story of a love triangle set against terribly high stakes in the war against a monster is sophisticated instead of outlandish, intriguing instead of garish. Humphrey Bogart plays the allegedly apolitical club owner in unoccupied French territory that is nevertheless crawling with Nazis; Ingrid Bergman is the lover who mysteriously deserted him in Paris; and Paul Heinreid is her heroic, slightly bewildered husband. Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt are among what may be the best supporting cast in the history of Hollywood films. This is certainly among the most spirited and ennobling movies ever made. --Tom Keogh The Big Sleep Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made screen history together more than once, but they were never more popular than in this 1946 adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not). Bogart plays private eye Philip Marlowe, who is hired by a wealthy socialite (Bacall) to look into troubles stirred up by her wild, young sister (Martha Vickers). Legendarily complicated (so much so that even Chandler had trouble following the plot), the film is nonetheless hugely entertaining and atmospheric, an electrifying plunge into the exotica of detective fiction. William Faulkner wrote the screenplay. --Tom Keogh Key Largo John Huston directed this smart 1948 thriller about a gangster (Edward G. Robinson) who holds a number of people hostage in a hotel in the Florida Keys during a tropical storm. Humphrey Bogart is the returning war veteran who takes on the villains, and Lauren Bacall is on hand as one of the people on the wrong end of Robinson's gun. Somewhat similar in tone to Howard Hawks's To Have and Have Not (which also featured Bogart and Bacall), this moody movie captures a certain despair offset by the bond between individuals united by common purpose. Claire Trevor won an Academy Award for her part as Robinson's alcoholic girlfriend. --Tom Keogh
When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. And it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it's-it's bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.
I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking's something you can't do judiciously, unless you keep in practice. Now, sir, we'll talk if you like. I'll tell you right out, I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.
You won't need much of anybody's help. You're good. Chiefly your eyes, I think, and that throb you get in your voice when you say things like 'Be generous, Mr. Spade.'
I deserve that. But the lie was in the way I said it, not at all in what I said. It's my own fault if you can't believe me now.
Ah, now you are dangerous.
I do know he always went heavily armed, and that he never went to sleep without covering the floor around his bed with crumpled newspapers, so that nobody could come silently into his room.
You picked a nice sort of a playmate.
Only that sort could have helped me, if he'd been loyal.
I am prepared to pay five thousand dollars for the figure's return. Do you have it?
But if it isn't here, why did you risk serious injury to prevent my searching for it?
Why should I sit around here and let people come in and stick me up?
But certainly it is only natural that I try to save the owner such a considerable expense if possible.
Well, sir, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names... or shall we go to Istanbul?
Are you going?
Seventeen years I've wanted that little item and I've been trying to get it. If we must spend another year on the quest... well, sir, it will be an additional expenditure in time of only... five and fifteen seventeenths percent.