QUOTE OF THE DAY: The Maltese Falcon

The famous low angle shot of Greenstreet

The Maltese Falcon is so memorable, none more so than the fabulous Sydney  Greenstreet (1879-1954) as Kaspar Gutman .

Gutman’s search for the Falcon is all consuming and Greenstreet delivers some great lines of dialogue:

“The best goodbyes are short.   Adieu.”

“I’m a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk.”

To which Sam Spade replies: “Swell, will we talk about the black bird.”

Gutman  philosophises :

“I do like a man who tells you right out he’s looking out for himself. Don’t we all.”


Amazing to realise this was Sydney Greenstreet’s movie debut at the age of 62. Small wonder he was Oscar nominated. He is simply superb as the obsessed seeker of the Falcon.  Kent born Greenstreet  had a long stage career (he debuted on Broadway in 1907)  and his acting talents translated surprisingly easily to the film camera. He seems completely at home and commands the screen whenever he appears.


Sydney subsequently made  24 films between 1940 and 1949 , when he retired . He had been married since 1918 and had one son.


Gutman is a villain , but a villain who is jovial and eloquent. Even at the end of the film, his cool demeanour only disappears briefly while he is unwrapping what he believes is the bejewelled Falcon. But it’s a fake.

He’s been searching for the Falcon for 17 years, and indicates he’ll start again ( he seems to be well funded!) – except of course Sam Spade turns him in to the police.

By gad, he is a character. You  almost wish he could continue his search for the black bird.










2 responses »

  1. All- or most- of the places in San Francisco connected to “The Maltese Falcon”, and Dashiell Hammett can still be seen. There is a plaque on Burritt Alley to mark the site where Miles Archer was gunned down by Brigid O’ Shaughnessy. And John’s Grill, on Ellis Street is home to the Maltese Falcon itself. Unforgettable film !

    • Yes, wonderful San Francisco locations. I wrote about the plaque last year – “The Falcon in San Francisco” and about other Noir locations there in my 2015 post – “San Francisco Noir.” (The website reelsanfrancisco.com is very good.)

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