The new Summer 2020 Mystery Scene issue arrived yesterday, but there was no time to read it last night, being stuck with some day job take-home work. More about what looks like a terrific issue later. But I did manage a quick peek over this morning’s drive-through large-with-cream (God bless Dunkin’ Donuts) on the way to work, and the last item in Louis Phillips “Mystery Scene Miscellany” column caught my eye, it being the day after Dashiell Hammett’s birthday.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
No, not the Carly Simon song from her 1987 Coming Around Again album or paraphrasing Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade delivers that final line of dialog in the 1941 The Maltese Falcon, just before he and Ward Bond exit while we watch the elevator gates close over Mary Astor’s resigned face, the car descends into darkness and that memorable Adolph Deutsch composed Warner Brothers studio orchestra music builds for the film’s close, a mere minute or so of truly iconic proto-noir cinema that gets me every time I see it.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.” According to Mystery Scene Miscellany (referencing a 1989 Lawrence Grobel biography of the Hustons), that wonderful line which had long been attributed to director/screenwriter John Huston was actually ad-libbed on set by Bogart himself. Doubly intriguing, since all I’ve read about the film indicates that Huston was meticulous about sticking to his script in this, his first feature film directorial assignment, even shooting largely in sequence.
But I’m glad at least one bit of improvisation was allowed, and all the more pleased to think of Humphrey Bogart coming up with that particular – and memorable – line.