Maltese Falcon, The: Bogart’s Starring Role–Definition

The Maltese Falcon: Bogart’s Starring Role–definition, attributes

The Maltese Falcon

It was as private eye Sam Spade that Bogart at last found a part that really used his special qualities, including his unique voice and delivery, and the basic ambiguity about his moral position.

Though he ended up as hero, he did not always like that.  Moreover, the process by which he became a hero was more important than the end result of being heroic.

His role in The Maltese Falcon was perfectly suited to his type, hard-boiled detective hero. It shared the lower-class origins and experience and hardened demeanor of his roles in the 1930s.

But the detective was a stronger, more suave, more elegant, and more admirable figure.

Threatened by the brutality of urban milieu, he had the toughness and wit to win over it. Bogart was the ideal type for such a role.

Jeremy Butler

Bogart/Spade hides behind a variety of masks.

The soothing of a father figure: “Suppose you tell me about it from the very beginning.”

Negotiator: “keep that gunsel out of my way while you’re making up your mind. I’ll kill him if you don’t. I’ll kill him!

The irresponsible jokester: “Well, boys and girls, we put it over nicely!.”

The Declamatory Orator: “You getting this all right, son, or am I going too fast for you.”

In the film, everyone is potentially Spade’s enemy.

The menacing, unpredictable character of his environment is conveyed thru low angle shot, odd and jarring compositions.

The intensity of the threat comes through in the high percentage of close-ups.

Height is important, because it conveys  dominance and authority.

Spade is taller than Wilmer, Cairo and Gutman

The police represents the more solid power of social justice that must be accommodated, thus the police is taller.

Women: They are the most problematic, because they bring an unpredictable element of sexual allure to the power struggle. They are nearly as tall (or taller) as Spade, and he can control them, but with difficulty

The final confrontation with Brigid, and later with Ingrid Bergman

Bogart’s actions in relation to the people around him. The compulsion to dominate others overwhelms the desire for closeness.

Sam stands with his hands on his hips, or jabs his finger at those who question his authority.

After conquering an enemy, he claps his hands, grins in triumph, smokes in the face of his foe.

The need to dominate others overwhelm the desire to be close to them.