Movie Analysis: The Maltese Falcon

1012 Words5 Pages

The Maltese Falcon is a film noir directed by John Huston. The film is based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett of the same name. The film was made and distributed by Warner Bros. and was released in October 1941. In this film, detective Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart, takes on a case from the beautiful but deceptive Miss Wonderly, played by Mary Astor. That night, Spade’s partner, Archer, is killed while following Mr. Thursby, who is also killed. It is revealed that Miss Wonderly’s real name is Brigit O’Shaughnessy and that she had been working with Thursby. Spade is approached by Mr. Gutman, played …show more content…

It tends to upset the traditional power balance between the sexes and construct women as powerful and men as weak and threatened. The femme fatale was; a woman who seduces, exploits, and destroys her partners. O’Shaughnessy was deceitful and homicidal but also smart and ambitious. Their independence and power can be seen as a positive step in the representation of women. These women did not conform to the traditional role of the wife and mother. Femme fatales are usually destroyed in the end, either by being killed or being domesticated, as though they are being punished thinking they can compete with men. Male dominance is always restored by the end of the film. In established film noir, the new economic, social, and sexual freedom that women experienced during the war years as they joined the workplace was quite unsettling to many American men. This fear of strong, independent women and the need to show the danger of this independence was shown, whether consciously or not, in most film noir. The Maltese Falcon, like many films of its era, joins in the distrust of all things foreign. Non-American characters, places, and things tend to be perverse and dangerous. The Falcon itself is foreign. Gutman, Cairo, and O’Shaughnessy tracked it down while on their dangerous travels through foreign in countries before coming to San Francisco and meeting Spade. This gives the impression that foreign things bring trouble and destruction to America. Spade is hardly the ideal moral person. He had an affair with his partner’s wife, he is comfortable with criminals and is quite similar to the criminals he deals with. However, he has a different set of morals than criminals like Gutman or Cairo. The film establishes his Americanism and shows American prejudices just months before World War II. Also, Cairo his clearly established as a foreigner by his passport, and he is hinted at being

Open Document