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The Maltese Falcon
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Part of the READ A GREAT MOVIE promotion

About the Author

After spells as newsboy, freight clerk, labourer, messenger, stevedore and advertising manager, Hammett became an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. His experiences as a private detective laid the foundation for his writing career. He died in 1961.

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The classic noir story is given new life with this full-cast adaptation. When a damsel in distress steps into Sam Spade's office spinning a yarn of a kidnapped sister and shady older man, Spade is doubtful but intrigued. Soon, he's pulled into an international hunt for a bird made of gold that leaves a trail of dead bodies, including his partner. Michael Madsen initially comes on a bit strong as Spade with a tone and growl that goes beyond previous renditions, but by the end, he has appreciatively mellowed. The supporting cast (including Sandra Oh and Edward Herrmann) are fine but unmemorable. The sound effects fading in and out of the production prove so subtle that it's often hard to determine if one is hearing them from the story or from the real world. The occasional musical score is reminiscent of old-time radio and used sparingly. A Vintage paperback. (Dec.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

This full-cast audio dramatization of Hammett's 1930 pulp fiction best seller features performances by actors Michael Madsen, Sandra Oh, and Edward Herrmann. Each narrator reads not only his/her character's lines but the narration associated with that character as well; the resulting abrupt switches can be distracting. The music and other secondary production effects, however, are unobtrusive. A very enjoyable version of a genre classic that is recommended for all popular fiction collections. [Audio clip available through www.blackstoneaudio.com; alternate recordings available from Sound Library: BBC Audiobooks America and Books on Tape; the Vintage pb was deemed "the best hard-boiled PI story and one of the great American novels, period," LJ 2/15/05.-Ed.]-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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