Capturing the Falcon

Reel San Francisco helps fill the holes in your S.F. cinema experience

I recently found out that one of my friends has never seen the classic Humphrey Bogart film The Maltese Falcon. Since we were just then sitting at the bar in John's Grill, "Home of the Maltese Falcon" -- the spot author Dashiell Hammett chose in both his life (he ate pork chops here) and his fiction (Hammett's famous gumshoe Sam Spade eats a pork chop here in the novel on which the movie is based) -- I was deeply shocked. I had to order another martini to steady my jangled nerves. Pondering my buddy's sad fate, I wondered if she was beyond help. What could I do?

Just in the nick of time, the Reel San Francisco film festival is on hand to save her -- and any others who may share her Falcon-less situation. The fest is dedicated to movies set in San Francisco, and programmer Gary Meyer must have had a hell of a time narrowing it down to a mere month's worth of screenings, because this is a deep pool to choose from. But the selections he's made are brilliant, from the inclusion of several 1950s B-grade noirs to the self-explanatory Lenny Bruce: Performance Film to the underappreciated The Conversation, a 1970s thriller starring Gene Hackman and Shirley from TV's Laverne & Shirley. Beware: The latter contains scenes of unfettered mimes in Union Square.

The Gang and the Dingus: The Maltese 
John Huston
The Gang and the Dingus: The Maltese Falcon.


Opens Saturday, April 16, at 1 p.m. (and continues through May 11)

Admission is $6-8.50


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Balboa Theater, 3630 Balboa (at 38th Avenue), S.F.

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Not only has Meyer thoughtfully included all the classic S.F. flicks that most folks know and love -- like Vertigo, Harold and Maude, and Bullitt (vroom, Steve McQueen, vroom!) -- but he's also done The Maltese Falcon one better. I'll be able to bring my friend to see the Bogie version anda pre-Code production of Hammett's novel, made in 1931 (aka Dangerous Female) with a Sam Spade who, according to Anita Monga's hilarious film notes on the theater's Web site, "beds every dame that crosses his path."

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