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THE BLACK BIRD (1975)


Director: Daivd Giler
Executive Producer: George Segal Producers: Michael Levee and Lou Lombardo

Screenplay: David Giler
Story by: Don M. Mankiewicz and Gordon Cotler

Starring: George Segal, Lionel Stander, Lee Patrick, Elisha Cook, Jr., Signe Hasso, Stephane Audran, and John Abbott.

Only available on VHS.
Running Length: 99 minutes
MPAA Classification: PG

Genre: Crime caper, comedy

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I do not understand why it is only available on VHS. And except for the lame ending, I can't think of anything bad to say about it.

For those who are unfamiliar with the film, it is a spoof of the movie "The Maltese Falcon" but you need not have viewed the original Falcon movie in order to enjoy "The Black Bird." With that said, it also should be noted that the more times you view "The Black Bird," the funnier you will find it. Having a quirky sense of humor helps. At least that has been my experience.

Sam Spade, Jr. (George Segal) inherits his father's struggling detective business in a seedy part of San Francisco. He also inherits his father's secretary, Effie Perine (Lee Patrick, reprising her original role), and a small statue that may or may not be the famous, missing, and much sought after Maltese Falcon.

Practically everyone Spade meets is trying to get their hands on the statue and Spade, true to his nature, is just trying to make a few bucks on the deal. Murder and mayhem soon follow his every footstep.

I don't want to be too specific on the plot or action sequences. I don't want to spoil the fun of the gags and clever word play. Residents or fans of the city of San Francisco will also have fun as the tale meanders through many familiar streets. (And unfortunately also pretends to be S.F. when it clearly isn't...but that's a minor quibble.)

San Francisco, the Maltese Falcon, and Sam Spade, Jr. -- what more could you ask for in a very clever and funny crime caper that harkens back to the old days when hard-luck private eyes were a dime a dozen?

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