Mr. Spades reinvents the classic literary detective

In AMC's Mr. Spade , Clive Owen brings a new take on legendary private eye Sam Spade. Although Irving first appeared as a protagonist in Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel "The Maltese Falcon ," the character was separated from the events of the book by more than 30 years.

"Monsieur Spade" opens in 1963 with a private detective enjoying retirement in the south of France, but his "quiet" life is upended when six nuns are brutally murdered at a local convent. Spade is quickly drawn back into the world of criminal investigations as dark secrets emerge about the connection between the murders and a mysterious child.

Although the six-episode AMC crime drama follows an entirely new storyline, The Maltese Falcon provides a starting point and is referenced throughout the series. So here is a brief recap of the plot of Hammett's book.

The Maltese Falcon is full of twists and turns

Spoilers ahead for The Maltese Falcon . "The Maltese Falcon" is set in San Francisco in 1928. The story begins with the mysterious "Miss Wandley" hiring Spade and his partner Miles Archer to find her sister. While pursuing clues, Archer is murdered, as is Floyd Thursby, the sister's alleged traveling companion whom Archer was stalking.

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Spade becomes a suspect early on because he was having an affair with Archer's wife, so he sets out to solve his partner's murder and clear his name. After Wonderley revealed that her name was actually Brigid O'Shaughnessy, she claimed that Thursby was Archer's murderer. Still suspicious of her, Spade returns to his office when the mysterious Joel Cairo appears and offers him $5,000 to track down a bejeweled blackbird.

Soon, Spade discovers that Cairo and his boss Casper Gutman are not the only ones looking for the precious falcon statue: O'Shaughnessy is also looking for the elusive bird. Gutman hired her and Thursby to acquire the bird, but they decided to keep it for themselves. After surviving an attack, Captain Jacoby, who was carrying the Maltese Falcon, was covered in blood and near death, and dropped the bird at his feet.

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O'Shaughnessy, Cairo, Gutman and Wilmer Cook, the gunman who was following Spade, showed up at his apartment shortly after, demanding the Falcon. They eventually struck a deal to make Wilmer the scapegoat for the murders of Archer, Thursby and Jacoby. But the final exchange revealed that the falcon was fake.

Cairo, Gutman, and Wilmer set out to find the real Maltese Falcon, leaving O'Shaughnessy to be handled by Spade. Spade realizes she is the only one who can kill Archer and turns her over to the police.

movie inspiration

In addition to Hammett's book, Irving also drew inspiration from Humphrey Bogart, who played Spade in John Huston's 1941 film adaptation , while trying to "reinvent" the character.

"I'm a huge Bogart fan and I have a Maltese Falcon poster on my wall," Irving told Screen Rant. "I think Sam Spade and Bogart, they were idols. I didn't want to stray too far away, so I really immersed myself in Bogart and listened to him and watched him. That was already my introduction into the industry. Incentive."

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In an interview with the Boston Herald , Irving shared why he thinks Spade has stood the "test of time." He said: "It's partly to do with Dashiell Hammett's satisfyingly original novel. If you had to sum it up, it's partly to do with Humphrey Bogart. There are characters who make an impact. ——We will not forget them.”

The actor also referenced his character's behavior in the finale of "The Maltese Falcon ." "When Spade turned over Brigid Shaughnessy to the police and said, 'I'm not going to fall for anybody,' I think that kind of fiery integrity will always be at the core of who he was."