The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon
2 January 2020

Re-Imagined Radio presented a live performance by Metropolitan Performing Arts actors and other community volunteers at Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver, Washington. Audience count: 106.

THE classic hardboiled private eye drama with just enough noir to keep things edgy. Sam Spade, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, Joel Cairo, Casper Gutman. Dashiell Hammett brought them to life with his iconic storytelling. The Maltese Falcon is enjoyed as a novel, a motion picture, and a radio drama. The novel, written by American writer Dashiell Hammett was originally serialized in Black Mask magazine, beginning with the September 1929 issue. The complete novel was published in 1930 by Alfred A. Knopf.

The novel was adapted as a motion picture four times, most notably in 1941 as John Huston's directorial debut and starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Gladys George. This film adaptation of The Maltese Falcon was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet), and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Huston).

The Maltese Falcon was adapted twice as an audio book, once as a stage performance, and once as a radio drama, the 3 July 1946 episode of Academy Award, a weekly radio program featuring actors and actresses, techniques and skills chosen from motion pictures nominated or having won the Oscar award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This episode, entitled The Maltese Falcon starred Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet, who reprised their roles in the 1941 motion picture. It is from this episode of Academy Award that we adapted our re-imagined performance.

Today, whether as the novel, film, or radio drama, The Maltese Falcon is often cited as the best example of both noir and hardboiled detective fiction. From the noir subgenre comes a bleak tone with nihilistic characters whose greed causes them to lie, steal, and cheat, becoming more and more entangled in a web of machinations from which they cannot escape. The hardboiled detective genre features a somewhat fallen private detective who may bend, even break, the law in pursuit of justice, and who, despite a broken moral compass, emerges from dilemmas with a clean ethical slate.

In both noir and hardboiled detective fiction, it is the interaction between characters that moves the story forward. Our story featured a definitive cast of classic characters. First, Sam Spade, a San Francisco private detective with his own code of ethics, and a connoisseur of comebacks. Spade is hounded by police detectives, thugs, and public officials driven by personal career interests. Effie Perine, Spade's secretary, provided comfort and moral guidance, but she had Spade's number. Miles Archer, Spade's partner, was murdered within the first few minutes of the story, a consequence that required a solution from Spade. Joel Cairo was a criminal for sure, but he smelled of gardenias. Casper Gutman, The Fat Man, was wealthy, cunning, charming, obsessed with a falcon statuette. And, finally, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a femme fatale, beautiful but treacherous, who changed her name, and loyalty, at the drop of a dime. They all were looking for a gold statue of a falcon.

It was a volatile but entertaining mix, making The Maltese Falcon arguably one of the best detective stories ever written, and Hammett one of the greatest mystery writers of all time.

Listen

This performance was recorded live.

Credits

Cast
Announcer/Narrator = John Barber
Sam Spade = Larry Taylor
Brigid O'Shaughnessy = Barbara Richardson
Caspar Gutman = Jack McCracken
Joel Cairo = Greg Shilling
Lieutenant Dundy = Kellan Connolly
Tom Polhaus = Jack McCracken
Effie Perine = Arianna Dorenbosh
Miles Archer = Bob Meek
Wilmer Cook = Bob Meek
District Attorny = Kellan Connolly
Captain Jacoby = John Barber

Promotional Graphics
Barbara Richardson

Press & Feedback

Anonymous. Live Radio Performance Features Classic Noir Drama. ClarkCountyToday.com, 14 Jan. 2010.

“Sure seems like Re-Imagined Radio is firing on all cylinders these days! I enjoyed your production last night FAR more than the classic film itself, which I happened to catch recently. The acting was simply tremendous. The tough-guy voice of Sam Space and the gushy voice of the many-named femme fatale—and Joel Cairo, and the Fat Man, and the police—they were all just right. Thanks for a great evening. I brought my mom.”
— Scott Hewitt, Arts and Entertainment Editor, The Columbian. Email to John F. Barber, 23 February 2020.