This week, Spade & Archer, the prequel to Dashiell Hammett's 1930 classic The Maltese Falcon landed in bookstores. Joe Gores, a former private eye and author of sixteen novels, was given permission from Hammett's daughter to pick up the story of detective Sam Spade ten years before The Maltese Falcon begins.
Spade & Archer explains how Sam Spade set up his office in San Francisco in 1921, how Effie Perrine became his secretary, how Spade and Iva Archer came to be involved, and how he and Miles Archer became partners in 1928. Aside from that, we follow Spade on investigations that take him all around the San Francisco Bay. If you are a fan of The Maltese Falcon, you will probably enjoy reading the prequel. The historical details were well researched, and the style of the book is respectful to the original work.
So, let's look back at some of the radio versions of The Maltese Falcon that were done after the release of John Huston's 1941 film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. The radio versions are condensed, and we don't experience all of the cigarrette rolling and Bacardi drinking of the book, but they are still fun to listen to. All three of these productions were performed in front of live audiences.
The Screen Guild Theater (CBS Radio) presented a 30 minute radio adaptation on September 20, 1943. Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre reprised their roles from the film. (There is some audio static towards the end on this recording.)
(On May 18th, 1950, The Screen Guild Theater presented "The Maltese Falcon" again with Humphrey Bogart and his wife, Lauren Bacall, in the lead roles.)
Academy Award Theater (CBS Radio) presented a 30 minute radio adaptation on July 3, 1946. Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet starred.
Below is a trailer for The Maltese Falcon that says it all.
(Image: Spade & Archer, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, 2009)