(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)
Why I added it to my queue: Because I recently had the chance to review the 1934 novel by Dashiell Hammett that this was based on; and since the movie is actually just as famous as the book, I thought it would be good to review this as well.
The reality: Fantastic! And in fact, I don't have a lot to say about this that I didn't already in my write-up of the book; it's a surprisingly faithful adaptation, which is the main reason it became as popular as it did. (Let's not forget, this actually got nominated for the Best Picture Oscar the year it came out; and of course for those who don't know, eventually five other films were made in this franchise, all of which were commercial hits, as well as a short-lived television series in the 1950s.) An almost textbook example of the things that made '30s cinema so great (the clipped dialogue, the gorgeous sets, a kind of kinetic rhythm that had been missing from the film industry until then), you could do a lot worse than to turn to this if you're looking for just one example of the finest this decade and this genre had to offer. It comes highly recommended in that spirit.
Strangest piece of trivia: Originally given a three-week schedule, director W.S. van Dyke shot the entire film in twelve days instead, in order to look better in the eyes of his studio bosses. To the surprise of everyone, the movie made six times its budget in just its original run.
Worth your time? Yes