The Maltese Falcon is generally regarded as one of the ‘proper’ film-noirs, and almost certainly the first ‘classic’ one. It’s a status that is well-deserved: first-time writer-director John Huston guides the film with the kind of classical economy that would make him one of the best American directors of his generation, allowing his four principal actors—Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre—to do what they did for a living. And goddamn. It might not be as finely polished as other noirs that came later such as Double Indemnity or The Big Sleep, but it doesn’t need to be. The Maltese Falcon is a deeply cynical, nasty film about deeply cynical, nasty people, and a classic of the American cinema.