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The movie is awesome. It's a major, major classic. If you haven't seen it, do so. It has been filmed a few times: the John Huston/Humphrey Bogart version is the one to see.
Interestingly, Hammett wrote the book more or less as a film treatment. The film is extremely faithful to the book (the Flitcraft story is left out, other then that it is pretty much the same).
Hammett is one of my favorites. Are you writing a paper on The Maltese Falcon for school?