Meanwhile, the contentions in this new bio of Humphrey Bogart add even more “gay subtext” to the already “you’re soaking in it” atmosphere of the film, what with Peter Lorre giving his walking stick a blow job and all the “gunsel” stuff.
Even great movies have one fatal flaw. With The Wizard of Oz, it’s “Toto” constantly looking for directions from its handler off screen. With The Maltese Falcon, it’s Mary Astor. Who can believe men would kill and die for a chance to sleep with this brittle, bony, transparently phony woman now? At one time, perhaps, but that time has passed — probably quite recently — and her otherwise street smart character still hasn’t adjusted her “game” accordingly, but knows she’d better hurry it up. After all, Astor was 35 in 1941, (or 45 in today’s accounting) a good age for my theory to be correct.
Perhaps this explains the different “Brigids” she tries on throughout the film. Anyway, this critic counters:
It’s become fashionable to deride Astor’s age and hard-living-has-caught-up-with-me appearance in this temptress part, but her critics willfully ignore the fact that the kind of bombshell called for in Dashiell Hammett’s novel couldn’t possibly act the role, with its dizzying changes of tone and registers and its underlying “I’ve seen everything” gravitas.
I suppose. But if you’ve been around the movie theatre block, you can’t help thinking of Astor’s ethereal beauty in other films, particularly Dodsworth (1936)– and her real life sluttiness, of course.
Speaking of Dodsworth: Astor was 30 in that film — again, the perfect age for that part. (In those days “30” was what “40” is now.)
It would be smart to watch both films back to back, as both,now that I think of it, are about women struggling with the unstoppable, fatal entry into middle age and its inevitable loss of (female) power.