Reading and Writing Assignments for 9/12/13


Write 2-3 paragraph blog post on The Maltese Falcon. Discuss the genre conventions you saw in the film as you’ve come to know them through other films you’ve seen. Also, please discuss the figure of the detective in this film and especially his relationship to those around him (policemen, criminals, femme fatales) in the film. Finally, feel free to discuss your overall impressions of the movie.


Readings for 9/12:
* Film Noir: The Trouble With Genre
* Emily Nussbaum, “Difficult Women

7 thoughts on “Reading and Writing Assignments for 9/12/13

  1. stacey

    I was never a fan of film noir or “black and white” films as I referred to them, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through the first ten minutes of one before “The Maltese Falcon”. I’ve also never considered the word “convention” when thinking about a movie. However, after Professor Gold’s explanation of the genre, the definition of conventions and the ones associated with film noir I was able to spot a few which were familiar, as they are still used in later movies.
    The plot of “The Maltese Falcon” follows the detective mystery formula with every scene. It features a cocky, self-assured detective with a healthy appetite for the attention of his female counterparts; he flies in the face of authority while treading the line very skillfully. He masks his fears with bravado and sarcasm and pats himself on the back after taunting the police and antagonizing the criminals. Throughout the movie it was difficult to discern whether or not he was going to allow himself to be bested by the femme fatale, a manipulative female who uses her feminine wiles, even feigning stupidity and weakness to have her way. However in the end he does the right thing by solving the crime, turning in all the criminals including his love interest.
    The shadow play aspect of the movie was obvious in the opening scene, the name of the detective agency casted a shadow on the office floor. The lighting was done to show the shadows and movement of each character on screen giving depth to the shady theme and storyline of the movie.

  2. Xavier O.

    I have never really seen a black and white fil from start to finish so this was a new experience for me. From past studies I knew that older movies rely on lighting to set the mood of the current scenario. With the lighting in the movie it was easy top see if the scene was serious or not so serious.
    In Maltese Falcon we a what can be described as a hard boiled private investigator. He’s tough, rough, has bark and bite. We can see it from his attitude and the way he tries to get the upper hand in every situation. He also does a lot of things a bad guy would do. He lies to the cops and tries to keep secrets for his own personal gain. But he does it in the name of justice and the greater good. “The end will justify the means”
    Because this a noir film shadows play a big role. We also see shadows over the faces of our hero when he is being portrayed in a series manner. When his partner was murdered we saw the shadow. When the mood was light everyone’s faces were illuminated nicely. Also the music played a big role in plot development. When scenes began to speed up or the plot was thickening there was music to accompany us at every twist and turn.

  3. Emmanuel Malis

    When I was told in class that, we would be watching a black and white detective film I was a bit skeptical. One being that personally, films of non color never really interested me. But I was very wrong especially after we watched “The Maltese Falcon” in class. Which was basically a classic detective movie that followed the typical genre and “ingredients” of this kind of film noir. Detective Spade perfectly shows us a lot of the signs and makings of noir along with all the other genre conventions that take place. Now after watching this movie I will definitely give these black and white movies a shot.

    Noir was very popular of the time and it portrays a more dark side of the American movie industry around the 40s. They all seem to have a female who happens to seem as a damsel in distress but is really way smarter then the man or men in the movie (Brigid O’Shaughnessy). She was basically found to be the killer and also set up Spade the whole time feeding him lies to help get the falcon. Another one present is the dialogue which is so up beat and very dramatic, especially used by Spade who is always chasing some one or looking for clues in very aggressive and sarcastic behavior. Finally like all detective movies, the mystery was solved and the “bad guys” were taken away.

  4. vera

    This was my first time watching a complete black and white film. To be honest I was really not looking forward to it but after going along with the movie it actually caught my attention. The only thing I dislike about black and white films is that their dialogs seems to be a little bit faster than films now, which personally makes it difficult for me to understand sometimes.

    In the noir film “Maltese Falcon”, the genre conventions that stood out to me was the music because it played strongly in the dramatic scenes, the detective being mysterious looking in their typical hats, and being skillful at what detectives are known for. As for the detective, I found him to be a mysterious, great problem solver, and a bit sarcastically humorous. He’s the type of detective who completes his duties and preserves his professional and personal life morally.

  5. Simon Ho

    The Noir film, “The Maltese Falcon” is a classic film in its own rights regardless of genre. But for the genre of Noir, it is greatly represented by the countless amounts of genre conventions shown throughout the film. The movie opens up with a typical more upbeat 40’s style of music, once the once the first scene was set; inside the inspector’s office the music was right away swayed off to a different tone. This happens on multiple occasions. Especially to represent the feeling or the mood of the scene. Other than music there were also a lot of lighting and shadowing involved. Being a black and white film, there was only so much you can do with detail to express the scene. This film did a very good job with the shadowing of objects to create an illusion of mystery.
    I felt there was a lot of mannerisms with the main character, Spade. Whether it is the way that he speaks to authority, his sarcastic but sometimes prude humor and especially the way he is around female counterparts, there was a major sense of machoism about him but you can still feel his chivalry.
    All in all this film was not bad, granted I was never too fond of Noir films, but “The Maltese Falcon” is definitely a great justification of the genre but also cinema of that era. Films then were much more difficult to make than films today are, due to the lack of technology. They would have to figure out cunning ways to create a lot of the ideas to the people, using a lot of mental stipulations. A lot of films out now are still using the same techniques which were perfected by films of a pass for a reason, because it still works. Would I watch it again on my own time, probably not but I think I would recommend it if someone is interested in the genre.

  6. Gin Pena

    Maltese Falcon has the classical black and white detective case that easily draws you closer and closer to finishing till the end. It’s starts with private investigators Spade and Archer in their office when suddenly a woman, Ruth Wonderly, enters the scene with trouble. She explains that her sister went to San Fransisco with a mysterious man and wants to find her. She appears to be distressed and innocent, but as the story starts to unfold, so does her true intents. Typically this is something that you would find in other movies. As the viewer, the innocent one sometimes becomes the guilty one of all the havoc that was wreaked during the duration of the movie. Some how, Ruth Wonderly was indirectly involved with the next issue, like the murder of Archer, a meeting with Cairo, and an altercation with Gutman. They all seemed like the most obvious suspects, which makes the viewer forget all about the other possible people that were involved in the murders.
    This being a “noir” type of movie, there will always be a catalyst or something that jump starts the story although the characters do not know why it is until the very end. The Falcon Statuette was the cause of the whole story in the first place and the cause for the murders. The movie constantly reminded its viewers the this mysterious statue that everyone is after yet no one knows what value this statue has or even it’s importance. Not even Spade knew it’s worth until the other characters began offering more money for it, and thus the previous offers were completely lower than what it’s actually worth.
    Although the movie was black and white, it constantly uses dark and light effects to enhance the movie in terms of secrecy and detective work. Having confident and cocky characters like Spade made him seem like he feared nothing, not even the shadows that followed him. Even in the face of powerful people such as Gutman didn’t matter to him, because he always had a trick up his sleeve. He always seemed as if he were two steps ahead and ready for the next move. It almost made him seem like a super hero, who isn’t afraid to find the truth.

  7. Chametsky15

    In the film the Maltese Falcon, it is a classic Noir film, which takes places in 1941 San Francisco. During the film we follow Detective Sam Spade as he duped by his client Miss. Ruth Wonderly into helping her find this valuable statue that everyone seems to be hunting. In the movie there are many genre convections that take place in this film that are associated with noir films. Some of the bigger genre convections are but not limited to narrative, plot, character, dialogue, setting, theme, symbolisms and figures of speech. The major convections in the film are narrative and character since Sam Spade is the character describing his experiences and narrating the film. Two other conventions that is important to the film is the theme, and symbolism. There were many themes in this film such as; greed: the hunt for Maltese falcon, deceit: everyone tries to backstab or lie to someone throughout the film, morality: every characters morals is questioned throughout the movie. The movie is based on symbolism and the biggest symbol is the movie’s title The Maltese Falcon, it symbolizes greed which evokes in whoever pursues it. The phone: information and dialogue is the basis of the movie characters and storyline is built through phone conversations and conversations in general. The gun in the movie symbolizes actions but you never see the actions with the gun since you never see the murders.

    The detective in the movie Sam Spade builds the film around his actions, and his relationships with fellow characters such as the femme fatale Miss Wonderly and the criminals he encounters. He takes Miss Wonderly’s side of the story without actually seeing anything she is speaking of. She even sets his partner up to be killed and yet he still believes that it was her fake husband that did it. With the criminals he does not realize that the women he is helping is actually a criminal and they all just want the Maltese Falcon for the same reason. He treats the criminals like they have done something to him before without actually meeting them. He is just duped into a situation he should not be in, when he did nothing wrong to anyone around him he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    My impression of the film is simple it is a 1940s film with a great actor and story which has become a classic in movies. Everyone has heard, read or watched the Maltese Falcon. This is one of the movies that has helped build movies to what they are today without this classic film movies like The Godfather might have never been made. This is not the first time I have seen the film this is actually one of my grandfather’s favorites movies and he is a major fan of Humphrey Bogart. I recommend this movie to anyone that has never seen it, they should watch it at least once in their life time.


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