(1931)4Brendon HanleyThe 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon (1941) consistently ranks among the greatest American films ever made, but two other adaptations of Dashiell Hammett's novel preceded it. Unlike the 1936 version -- Satan Met a Lady, starring Bette Davis -- 1931's The Maltese Falcon (1931) stays close to the source material, aside from a tacked-on ending that relieves some of the book's cynical severity. The film had a standard feel for a studio production of the early sound period; it arrived in theaters right before the surge of detective movies, as horror and gangster films were falling out of favor. Journeyman director Roy Del Ruth helms adequately enough, and the prolific but lightly regarded bit actor Ricardo Cortez does well with his interpretation of Sam Spade as a saucy womanizer. To avoid confusion with the later John Huston production, this film has often been renamed The Dangerous Female.