The Maltese Falcon first appeared in the pages of
Black Mask magazine in 1929. Almost immediately it was acknowledged, not only as a great crime novel, but as an enduring masterpiece of American fiction. Sam Spade, its protagonist, is the archetypal tough, cynical P.I., "able," as his creator explained, "to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client."
And what a client! - the irresistible and treacherous femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy.
Believing the book's vividly drawn characters and memorable dialogue cry out for theatrical treatment, Blackstone Audio commissioned this faithful dramatization by the award-winning Hollywood Theater of the Ear, in which a brilliant cast brings to life all the excitement and suspense of Hammett's original in the playhouse of the mind.
"Hammett's prose [is] clean and entirely unique. His characters [are] as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction." (
The New York Times)
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A Great Listen
Great story, good voice acting, awful production
Yes, just not one produced by the same producer.
The way the narration forcibly kicked the listener out of the story instead of drawing the listener in.
Competent but disjointed
None. It wouldn't remain faithful to Hammett's original.
I'm a fan of noir and pulp fiction, and The Maltese Falcon is one of my favourite stories. I thought that a dramatisation with Michael Madsen as Sam Spade couldn't go wrong. Instead, I was wrong.
Graphic Audio shows how an audiobook dramatisation should be done. This, on the other hand, shows how it most definitely should not.
No fault should be attributed to Madsen, Oh, Herrmann and their cohorts; the voice acting was good enough. Rather, the producer (or possibly the director, or both) should be taken out and shot. This "genius" decided to have all of the actors narrate any and all descriptive text which vaguely referred to their characters, instead of having a completely separate voice for the narration while leaving the actors to voice the characters' dialogue.
Each time the voice changed it was not immediately obvious whether some dialogue was being spoken or some description being narrated, and every time this happened it served only to remind the listener of the fact instead of helping to suspend disbelief. This lack of a coherent, single, recognisable voice for the narration ruined any immersion the story might have had.
Note to the producer/director: next time, get an extra actor for the narration. Graphic Audio does what it does so well, because it works. You could do the same.