Satan Met a Lady was surprisingly good. The plot is still noticeably The Maltese Falcon, but it’s undergone major changes. Joel Cairo is now an Englishman, Gutman is now a woman, and Wilmer is now a cat-loving nephew. The names have all been changed of course, and this includes the falcon itself – it’s now ‘Roland’s Horn’ and is full of fantastic jewels!
They play the plot for laughs. It’s noticeably a comedy, but surprisingly enough it’s not so bad that way. There are a few good laughs and it’s generally an effective movie that way – better than the 1931 Falcon certainly. The acting is much stronger, and the plot, though highly modified, holds together well enough.
Bette Davis is, as always, amazing. She plays the most noticeably strong woman of the three ‘Brigid O’Shaunashees’, and of course she is Bette Davis. Brigid feels like she has a little more depth and feels much more unpredictable. In fact, she receives the star billing this time, and of course the title has been changed to refer to her. Warren William plays ‘Sam Spade’, now named Ted Nash. I’d never heard of him before now, bu he’s good. He’s the most wise-assed of the leading men, but this isn’t bad; in fact, it’s fun. He almost feels like Nick Charles before Nora.
But once again, the pivotal moment doens’t come off. No one beats Bogie for the last scene. You get the sense that in the first movie, Sam really is confused up to the very end. Not so in the second, but in this case he doesn’t sound like he really cares about Brigid. It’s only Bogie who really manages to capture Sam’s anguish and his surprising, underlying goodness.
Unlike the 1931 Falcon, I can recommend this movie on it’s own. It’s not a classic by any means, but if you’re an old movie fan, you’ll probably like it. If you don’t know the Falcon plot, that’s OK, because this plot does hold together. Of course, I doubt you’ll be able to find it outside of a collection that includes the ’41 Falcon anyway …
So now I’m off to watch the bonus features. Maybe I’ll see you again afterwards.