10 June 2008

Not Another Nip 'o Scotch!

Film trivia question: Who directed both The Maltese Falcon and The Aviator? I know what you're thinking, John Huston directed The Maltese Falcon and Martin Scorsese directed the Aviator. But Roy Del Ruth directed both! He directed the original version of The Maltese Falcon (since re-titled Dangerous Female). Huston's 1941 film was actually the third shot at Dashiell Hammett's story (Satin Met A Lady directed by William Dieterle and starring Warren William and Bette Davis was number two).
Okay so Del Ruth directed a movie called The Maltese Falcon but he also directed one called The Aviator which bears no resemblance to Scorsese's film. I could have thrown a third into the mix for Del Ruth directed Taxi! starring James Cagney and Loretta Young an outstanding film in which Cagney almost says "you dirty rat, you killed my brother" as so many impersonators subsequently misquoted him intoning. There was another Taxi made a few years ago that starred Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah which apparently reeked to high heaven.
Del Ruth was a prolific director with 110 titles to his credit including several other Cagney films such as Lady Killer and Blonde Crazy and another outstanding feature starring Ms. Young, Employees Entrance.
While there were subsequent versions of both The Maltese Falcon and The Aviator I believe Del Ruth has directed the only versions to date of the following films: Flip Flops, Ham and Eggs at the Front, and Nip 'o Scotch.
By the way Del Ruth's Maltese Falcon, while not in a league with Huston's classic is a pretty good movie in its own right starring the underrated Ricardo Cortez as Spade with the delightful Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly.

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