Clive Owen drowns in Bogart in France for ‘Monsieur Spade’ on AMC

 Dashiell Hammett wrote the mystery novel “The Maltese Falcon” in 1930. In 1941 Hollywood turned the bestseller into the film noir classic starring Humphrey Bogart. It had Bogart as the tough yet principled private detective Sam Spade navigating the dark gritty streets of San Francisco. Spade encounters beautiful women, brutal thugs, and lots of lies before he’s able to solve a fascinating mystery. It is the high-water mark by which all other detective stories are compared.

 Now Hammett’s celebrated gumshoe has been relocated to a sunny vineyard in France for the limited series “Monsieur Spade” starring Clive Owen, and “film noir” never looked so good.

Clive Owen as “Monsieur Spade” (photo by Jean-Claude Lother/AMC)

 The six-part “Monsieur Spade” airs on AMC Sundays, with the finale episode Feb. 18, 2024. Stream “Monsieur Spade” on AMC+ and Acorn TV.

  Set in the south of France in 1963, the story picks up 20 years after the conclusion of “The Maltese Falcon.” Spade is pulled out of retirement and into a horrifying investigation of murdered nuns. Of course Bogart was iconic as the original Sam Spade, but Clive Owen gives this character his own charisma and vitality. Owen also captures the rhythm of the snappy, snarky retorts, the chip on his shoulder, and the bad attitude of Hammett’s Spade as he encounters multi-layered characters who aren’t always who they appear to be.

 “Even though we’re setting this in the early ’60s, I wanted to feel the origins of the guy that’s in ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ So I leaned into Bogart quite heavily because I needed to ground myself in that kind of vibe,” Owen, star and executive producer, told the Television Critics Association at the recent TCA press tour in Pasadena, California.

 “I’m a huge fan of his, so it gave me an excuse to drown in everything Bogart and the character that Dashiell Hammett wrote.”

 Owen gave credit to the giants in the storytelling business who co-created and wrote the fish out of water “Monsieur Spade” story, executive producers Tom Fontana (“Oz”) and Scott Frank (“The Queen’s Gambit”), who also directed. Owen said, “It’s always the case with good writing, you don’t mess with the rhythm because the rhythm’s there for you. Just play it. For an actor, it’s like getting in a great car. It’s like just drive it. Don’t complicate it. Don’t get in the way of the rhythm because it’s all there for you.” 

 Where was “Monsieur Spade” filmed? All over France, Owen reported, “We shot in Bazuel, we shot outside of Montpellier, we shot outside of Paris. All of that was beautiful, but what I think is brilliant about taking him (Spade) 20 years ahead and putting him in a completely new environment is— when you try and do ‘noir,’ we think we’ve seen it all before. We see the tropes, we see the images, and you get comfortable with it and think, oh, I know what this is. And just by making that leap and setting him somewhere else, but still maintaining the flavor of that original Dashiell Hammett stuff, it reinvigorates it naturally. You don’t have to ask ‘how do we make this fresh and relevant?’ It already is, because it’s a totally new spin on the genre.”

 Owen emphasized how much he loved filming the French adventure with “Monsieur Spade” and hopes to do more. “There were many times during the shoot when I literally said to myself as an actor, this is exactly where I want to be. I love the genre. I have great dialogue to speak, and I did it with great actors.” And great wine at the end of the day.

Tune in “Monsieur Spade” Sundays on AMC Sundays, and stream on AMC+ and Acorn TV.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.