The Maltese Falcon, chronicling a detective’s hunt for a precious avian statuette, is one of the most famous movies of all time and generally seen as the best of the detective noir genre. However, the film is not quite as unique as most people believe, because the story — based on a 1930 novel by Dashiell Hammett — has actually been adapted several times in different ways.
The first film version of The Maltese Falcon was made in 1931; it is sometimes known as Dangerous Female to distinguish it from the subsequent adaptation. Made before the Hays Code, it had sexual content and language that required censorship during re-release; this prompted Warner Bros. to make Satan Met a Lady, a 1936 pseudo-adaptation that changed several key details.
The most famous Maltese Falcon is the 1941 version, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. Also made to Hays Code specifications, this version was much more popular than Satan Met a Lady and is widely cited as one of the greatest movies ever. It inspired The Black Bird, an unpopular comedic sequel, in 1975. Can’t get enough? There’s more: Movies That Everyone Should See: “The Maltese Falcon”