Director John Huston did books right. The Man Who Would Be King and Fat City are masterpieces. Back when he was just a screenwriter, Huston set the film community on its ear when he faithfully adapted High Sierra rather than shift things around, add a love interest or amusing animal, you know: ruin the source material. He also gave his buddy Humphrey Bogart a shot at the lead, more on that in a bit.
Before Huston started adapting movies, things were pretty dire. To wit, The Maltese Falcon began its life in 1930 as a hard-boiled detective novel by Dasheill Hammett, the source of all in the style that followed, and one of the best novels of all time. The first two adaptations of The Maltese Falcon were famously terrible, even though Bette Davis appeared in the 1936 light comedy version, Satan Met a Lady. Finally, the producer (or fellow director and Huston buddy Howard Hawks, depending on who you believe) said "just make the book already" to incredible result. All three versions can be found on the library's copy of The Maltese Falcon.
One of Roger Ebert's Great Movies, he says it was "as impressive as what Welles and Gregg Toland were doing on 'Kane.' The Maltese Falcon gave birth to the great director-actor partnership of Huston and Bogart, introduced us to Sydney Greenstreet, set the standard for all subsequent private eye films, and virtually launched the film noir style".
So, judge for yourself. Check out the book. And then enjoy the free screening and discussion on August 21st to discover for yourself whether the movie supersedes its source material.
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