Tuesday, 26 November 2013
The Real Life Maltese Falcon
Of course, the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, as well as the previous version from 1931 and the 1936 film Satan Met a Lady (in which the famous bird is replaced by a rather mundane ram's horn filled with jewels), was based on Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon. What many do not realise that in writing The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett may have taken his inspiration from real life.
Part of that inspiration came from the Tribute of the Maltese Falcon, a yearly tribute the Knights Hospitaller made to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The tribute consisted of one falcon (an living bird instead of a statue) given to the Emperor each year on All Saints Day in return for the grant of Tripoli, Malta and Gozo to the Knights Hospitaller. It is from the Tribute of the Maltese Falcon that Mr. Hammett took the name of both the novel and the priceless statuette.
Regardless of the real life inspiration for the novel The Maltese Falcon, both it and the 1941 film based upon it would prove very influential. The novel proved to be a pivotal work of hard boiled detective fiction, and would have a lasting influence on the genre. The 1941 film would also prove extremely influential. While it is debatable whether The Maltese Falcon can be considered film noir, it was certainly one of the films that would lead to the genre's development and that would have lasting impact upon it. It would seem that both the novel and the 1941 film would prove to be "the stuff that dreams are made of."