The Maltese Falcon Essay

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Pages: 5

Theater 120C: Final Paper
In The Maltese Falcon (1941), Humphrey Bogart plays Sam Spade, a private eye detective who is lured into the chase for a bird statue by a mysterious and deceitful woman named Ruth. His objectives are to find the Maltese Falcon, and discover the murderer of two crimes: the death of his former partner, Miles Archer, and another man named Thursby. He also wishes to prove his innocence for the murder of his partner because the police have him as the prime suspect. Sam approaches these problems by using his street smarts and investigative skills to follow a trail. Many times, he uses his uncanny ability to read expressions, words, and actions to see through lies and find the truth. This is evident when “Ruth” returns
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She appears to be the victim many times, and deceives the audience into thinking Cairo and Gutman are the two antagonists. However, her deception fails when Sam does not fall for her charms and all is revealed.
Relationships are integral to The Maltese Falcon, specifically the one between Sam and his partner, Miles Archer and Sam and Brigid. The first relationship, Sam and Archer, is the driving force for pursuing the case. Archer is mysteriously killed by a person off-screen. Sam receives a call informing him his partner is dead (06:21) but there is a noted apathy, and lack of emotion from receiving what should be devastating news. It is not until the end of the movie (1:33:08) that Sam states: “when a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it.” His subdued emotions were not indicative of apathy, but rather, renewed interest and motivation to chase the Maltese Falcon. We see very little of Miles Archer, but from the repertoire between him and Sam, they speak in shorthand suggesting they are very close. The actors might have spent a lot of time together to be as comfortable in-character in the movie. Humphrey Bogart and Jerome Cowan play Sam and Miles respectively as talking quickly and casually with each other to suggest that working together is routine and that they have been partners for a long time. This is conveyed very well in the acting choices and dialogue delivery.
Sam and Brigid’s relationship is one that quickly blossoms from