Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Maltese Falcon Quiz

For fans of the great movie, this quiz can be fun. But it will appeal even more to the readers of Dashiell Hammett's fine detective novel. Have at it...and, of course, don't look for the answers until the end!

1) Does the story of the falcon tribute have any factual basis?

2) Who was originally cast for the film role of Sam Spade? A) Ronald Reagan B) Robert Taylor C) George Raft D) Alan Ladd E) Gary Cooper

3) The Shakespeare reference at the end of the film (“Ah, the stuff which dreams are made of”) was suggested by A) Director John Huston B) Jack Warner C) Peter Lorre D) Humphrey Bogart

4) What previous occupation made Dashiell Hammett so effective in writing The Maltese Falcon? A) Detective B) Screenwriter C) San Francisco Probation officer D) Cleaned cages at an aviary

5) Which actor in the cast was playing their first film role?

6) How many successful novels did Dashiell Hammett write in his long career?

7) Hammett’s novel was dedicated to Jose. Who is this?

8) The Maltese Falcon was a major Hollywood hit, both with the public and the critics. How many Academy Awards did it win?

9) Where was Dashiell Hammett buried? A) Colorado B) Virginia C) California D) His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

10) After Hammett sold the rights to the Sam Spade character (at a bargain price), a very popular radio series was created called The Adventures of Sam Spade. It starred: A) Howard Duff B) Orson Wells C) Humphrey Bogart D) Jack Webb E) William Conrad


1) Yes, according to Dashiell Hammett’s own introduction to the 1934 edition of the book ---- “Somewhere I had read of the peculiar rental arrangements between Charles V and the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.”

2) C. George Raft. Raft was one of Warner’s contract players and was originally offered the part. He apparently turned it down because a) he didn't want to be directed by new director John Huston, and b) it was to be a low-budget, “unimportant” film. He had also turned down the starring role in High Sierra (which eventually fell to Bogart) because he didn't want to die at the end. In fact, Raft would go on turning down roles that Bogart would play and subsequently make famous, including the cynical and unforgettable hero of Casablanca.

3) D. Humphrey Bogart

4) A. Hammett was a detective for the Pinkerton agency.

5) Sydney Greenstreet. To play the part of sinister Fat Man Gutman, the film’s producer Hal Wallis suggested that Greenstreet do a screen test. Huston liked it and cast the longtime character actor of the stage. Greenstreet was thus 61 years old when he made his movie “debut.”

6) Only 5: The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, Red Harvest, The Thin Man, The Glass Key. Besides a few other short stories, Hammett’s career was largely a disappointment. The causes? TB and a generally dissolute lifestyle, complete with drunkenness, lack of discipline and self-control, abandonment of family, and the influence of radical leftists (especially Lillian Hellman).

7) Jose was Hammett’s first wife and mother of his two children.

8) None

9) B. Virginia. More specifically, in Arlington National Cemetery.

10) A. Veteran actor (and husband of Ida Lupino) Howard Duff. Duff's most famous roles were in television, especially Mr. Adams and Eve (1957-58), Felony Squad (1966-69), and a whole gang of guest spots.