The Maltese Falcon, as a Bogart fan, this film did not take a long time for me to be totally immersed with it. The film is based on a novel of the same title, authored by Dashiell Hammett and was adapted into a screenplay in the year of 1941 by director, John Huston.

Theory Discussion

The film Maltese Falcon is one of the many great films produced under the genre ‘Film Noir’. ‘Noir’ in French is ‘black’ or simply ‘dark’ (Ebert, 1995). This type of films mainly focuses on a mystery, thriller and crime related story lines and often have a femme fatale characters, as well as private detectives and criminals. Femme fatale characters developed when the men went to war during the World War II and the women were left to work to ensure the economy of the nation keeps going. Due to their independency, men who returned from war find their masculinity being challenged since now they have seen that women are capable in working in almost anything that only men before the war were put to work at. As a result, film noir was produced to narrate the sexual independency of these women who have intimidated the masculinity of men but in film noir.

Noir films often mislead the audience into thinking that the film they are watching would end up in happy endings as this genre focuses on showing the realistic world of betrayal and doom. Probably due to the fact that this genre arises during the WW2. Influenced by the German Expressionism, Film Noir differs from other films in terms of its protagonists that is knows for being an anti-hero (Dirks, 2016). It can be seen that most protagonists in Film Noir are corrupted and always have their very own motives.

 As it is mainly influenced by German Expressionism, usage of dark visuals and low-key lighting plays a major components in Noir films. As its storyline suggest more on crime and mystery, the settings often features dark visuals to produce that mysterious feeling. As mentioned by Roger Ebert, an American film critic and historian, characters in film noir are always seen with a cigarette in their hand. As men in those days are always seen in what in this modern would say, a formal attire, men back then are always dressed in suits and ties. Be it a police officer, villains and private eyes. While the women are always dressed in elegant clothing with matching hats and very high heels. It has been said in a website called Filmsite that there are mainly two different types of women in film noir, a femme fatale and a women who are simply trustworthy and reliable.

Theory Application

Sam Spade is a character that was popularized by the creator, Dashielle Hammett. A private eye who is not seen as a hero in fact the opposite of it, money driven but tough and clever. His femme fatale in this film is Miss Wonderly, a woman who happens to have her own ulterior motives. This film portrayed the ‘evil’ side of each character and their willingness to do anything in order to achieve their goal.

As have being discussed above on the elements that could be seen in a film noir, The Maltese Falcon possessed all. From the high contrast visuals to having dark shadows over the characters. Another element that has been appointed by our tutor is the cramped space in noir films. For an example, the living room of Miss Wonderly are filled with furnitures.


I am a lover of classic films. Be it black and white or coloured films but this is my first encounter with film noir, mainly because I am not too fond of watching a mystery/thriller kind of films but it is always great to get to see another film portrayed by Humphrey Bogart.


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