NEA Big Read
The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett

I’m one of the few—if there are any more—people moderately literate who take the detective story seriously.

Teachers may consider the ways in which these activities may be linked to other Big Read community events. Most of these projects could be shared at a local library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.

  1. Have students re-enact several different scenes from the novel as they might be done in a new movie version. Ask them to write their lines in a script, paying close attention to the novel for clues as to stage direction and body language. Before each presentation, have a narrator explain the context of the scene.
  2. Host a movie screening of the John Huston version of The Maltese Falcon at a local theatre. Invite a scholar to come to the screening and lead a discussion about the film’s interpretation of the novel.
  3. Have students work together to produce an e-zine using pulp magazines as a model. A student (or group of students) should begin to serialize an original short story, complete with cliffhanger chapter endings. Have other students choose areas they would like to work on, such as graphics, editing, and layout. Post your e-zine on the school’s website.
  4. Create a new cover for the novel. Display your students’ artwork at a local bookstore or Big Read sponsor.
  5. Explore creative writing skills through the following exercises: (1) write a short story using mostly dialogue, (2) write a short story without depicting the main character’s personal history, or (3) write a detective story where the main character solves a mystery.
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