Laurence Fishburne Tackles Bogart at ‘The Maltese Falcon’ Live Read
Fishburne's Live Read cast included Orlando Jones, Cree Summer, Spencer Garrett, Liza Lapira and his son, Langston Fishburne.
The 1941 noir film The Maltese Falcon got a modern update on Thursday night thanks to Film Independent's Live Read series created by filmmaker Jason Reitman. Starring Humphrey Bogart as a private detective in the search of the falcon statue, the pic was hailed as the first true noir film and one of Bogart’s top performances.
Although Reitman was not in attendance, he passed the directing mantle for the evening to actor, producer and director Laurence Fishburne, a returning favorite having done the all-black cast Live Read of Reservoir Dogs and Goodfellas.
Fishburne kicked off the night by revealing that he “was given two options: this film or Casablanca." While the audience inside LACMA’s Bing Theater mumbled in wonderment over the decision to drop the other 1942 classic, Fishburne added that “the cast was smaller for The Maltese Falcon, so that made more sense for now."
Once the stage was set, Fishburne reiterated some key Maltese Falcon trivia, including its three Academy Award nominations for best screenplay (by writer-director John Huston), best supporting actor and best picture. As the cast took to the stage, including Orlando Jones as Joel (originally played by Peter Lorre), the audience erupted in applause upon learning that the lead role of Samuel would be assumed by Fishburne himself.
Filling the equally large shoes of Mary Astor’s character Brigid, the flawed and alluring femme fatale that would lead Samuel down a dangerous path, was actress Cree Summer, who tickled the audience to laughter with every “Help me, Samuel!” thrown to Fishburne.
Another notable role originally played by Ward Bond, Detective Tom was left to the gifted hands of Spencer Garrett (Yes Man), whose calm sparring with Fishburne encouraged the audience to nod in support. Also on board was comedian and actress Liza Lapira (Super Fun Night) as Effie, and Langston Fishburne, Laurence’s first son, as Wilmer.
Fishburne's Live Read of The Maltese Falcon appeared to take flight: When it was over and just as the film's "The End" title card hit the wall behind them, the cast received a standing ovation.
From left: Elvis Mitchell, Peter Mackenzie, Cree Summer, Laurence Fishburne, Liza Lapira, Spencer Garrett, Langston Fishburne and Orlando Jones attend the Film Independent at LACMA Live Read at the Bing Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Film Independent and Wireimage by Araya Diaz.)
From left: Elvis Mitchell, Langston Fishburne, Liza Lapira, Laurence Fishburne, Cree Summer, Orlando Jones, Peter Mackenzie and Spencer Garrett perform onstage at the Film Independent at LACMA Live Read at the Bing Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Film Independent and Wireimage by Araya Diaz.)
Langston Fishburne (left) and Laurence Fishburne attend the Film Independent at LACMA Live Read at the Bing Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Film Independent and Wireimage by Araya Diaz.)