The Maltese Falcon was writer/director John Huston’s directorial debut. It was an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and had already been brought to the big screen before, in 1931 and again in 1936 as Satan Met a Lady starring Bette Davis. Huston’s film was nominated for three Academy Awards, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sydney Greenstreet), and Best Adapted Screenplay, but was awarded none.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was also written and directed by John Huston, adapted from B. Traven’s novel of the same name. The film won three Academy Awards, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Walter Huston, director Huston’s father), and was additionally nominated for Best Picture.
Bogart may have not been recognized by the Academy for either performance, but they are undoubtedly two of his best and make for a splendid double feature. The Blu-ray presentation for both films is outstanding. Skeptics, take note: the high definition transfer is not a glossy, superficial manipulation of the images. Instead, the movies are crisp and free of scratches, like they have simply been polished, and complete with strong, beautiful sound quality.
Each Blu-ray release comes loaded with special features. There are features on both films, as well as an audio commentary by biographer Eric Lax, who is thorough and highly informative. An hour-long radio broadcast of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Bogart and Walter Huston is featured on the Blu-ray, with two shorter radio shows of The Maltese Falcon (starring the film’s original cast) and a third one with Edward G. Robinson. There are also various shorts, cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny and one with Porky Pig, newsreels, and trailers (including one for Satan Met a Lady).
Standout features include a profile on John Huston on the Sierra Madre Blu-ray and Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart on the Falcon disc, a TCM special hosted by Robert Osborne. My personal favorite of all the features is Breakdowns of 1941, which is essentially a collection of outtakes featuring James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Bette Davis, and Bogart in a couple of bloopers. James Cagney appears in the majority of the outtakes, from the 1940 film, Torrid Zone, and his outtakes, primarily with frequent co-star Pat O’Brien, are hilarious.
The special features vary in quality, and some of them have been included in previous DVD releases, but they are essential additions for Bogie enthusiasts. Many of Bogie’s fans may already own a copy of The Maltese Falcon or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but if one is looking to upgrade or is a Bogart completist, these Blu-rays will make wonderful enhancements to a Bogie collection.
For discussions on both films, see The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.