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Satan Met a Lady (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 22 July 1936 (USA)
In this spoof of the story The Maltese Falcon (1941) is based on, a double-crossing woman, the two-timing P.I. she hired, the corpulent "empress of crime", and a gentleman thief are all after a legendary priceless eighth-century ram's horn.

Director:

William Dieterle

Writers:

Brown Holmes (screen play), Dashiell Hammett (based on a novel by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Valerie Purvis
Warren William ... Ted Shane
Alison Skipworth ... Madame Barabbas
Arthur Treacher ... Anthony Travers
Marie Wilson ... Miss Murgatroyd
Wini Shaw ... Astrid Ames (as Winifred Shaw)
Porter Hall ... Milton Ames
Olin Howland ... Detective Dunhill
Charles C. Wilson ... Detective Pollock (as Charles Wilson)
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Storyline

Sardonic detective Shane, thrown out of one town for bringing trouble, heads for home and his ex-partner's detective agency. The business is in a sad way, and Shane, who has had the forethought to provide himself with a 250-dollar commission from an old lady on the train, is welcomed with open arms. When pretty Valerie Purvis walks in the next day willing to pay over the odds to put a tail on the man who did her wrong, Shane's way with the ladies looks like paying off yet again. But things start to go wrong when his partner is murdered, and Shane himself comes home to find his apartment wrecked by a gentlemanly crook who comes back to apologise -- and to tell him a fascinating fairy-story about the fabled Horn of Roland that looks like not being so mythical after all. Miss Purvis wants protection. The police want answers. And all sorts of people want the 'French horn'... but Shane is one jump ahead of everyone all the way. Well, almost. Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Mystery

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 July 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man in the Black Hat See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the film, Madame Barabbas offers Shayne $100,000 for him to retrieve the trumpet and deliver it to her. To seal the deal, she gives him a $2,000 advance. In 2019 dollars, due to inflation, this is equivalent to approximately $1.8 million and $37 thousand, respectively. See more »

Goofs

The sign at the site of the first murder is misspelled; it reads "Glen Lawn Cemetary." See more »

Quotes

Ted Shayne: Your English friend called on me today. It seems he wants me to find him some old French Horn.
Valerie Purvis: I suppose if somebody paid you for it, you'd try and find Santa Claus.
Ted Shayne: Honey, if they paid me enough, I would!
Valerie Purvis: Well, you'd have as much chance at finding him as you would at finding me with an old French Horn. If there is any such thing.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

I'd Rather Listen to Your Eyes
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played as background music during and after Shayne ransacks Miss Purvis' room
See more »

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User Reviews

Easy Breezy Dramedy!
4 January 2003 | by nite_rayngerSee all my reviews

Surprise! Satan Met a Lady is an easy breezy detective dramedy VERY LOOSELY based on the Dashiell Hammett Book, The Maltese Falcon. This book had been adapted for the film before (in 1931) and, more famously, after (1941), This version made its way to the silver screen in 1936, with Bette Davis in rare form in a comedic role. Warren William, who could be as suave as the similar and better known actor William Powell, plays it fast and loose as a detective out to settle a mystery-and maybe find himself very rich. This version of the Hammett tale has been sadly underrated due to the fact that many of its naysayers were suffering under a misapprehension concerning the tenor of the film. In their attempt to set it under the same microscope as its more famous remakes and premakes, many of the critics overlooked the simple truth that this is a light, comic bit of film fluff concocted to entertain a mid-Depression Era audience with its confection of comedy, mystery, and romance. It has none of the nihilistic brooding of the original book, nor the leering innuendo or virtuoso performances of the two other films. What it does provide is a diverting pastiche of one liners and clever story lines that keep its audience on the edge of their seat. Even if they're almost falling out of their seats for laughter, there's always a reason for the viewers to use (and not lose) their heads. I'd like to see most movies do that today (and at 76 minutes.)

The casting of the principal stars is first rate. There's always a glint of a coiled cobra in Warren Willliam's silver-tongued shamus. But most of the time he keeps his gun in his pocket and his tongue in his cheek. Even his name is a parody of the nickname for a detective. Bette Davis matches him line by line and sets the movie at its pace. she was still a young actress and everything she says and does is as real and as fresh as homebaked bread. Allison Skipworth makes a charming but sinister villianess. Arthur Treacher (hilarious as a thief with manners) and portly Porter Hall round off this mad quad of moneygrubbers all showing that not only is the love of money the root of all evil, it can also be very, very, funny. Like Arsenic and Old Lace and Beat The Devil, Satan Met a lady is one movie that was ahead of its time and, after more than 65 years, is still got plenty of zest and zing. A Thumbs up for Satan Met a Lady.


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