The Maltese Falcon, was not only a detective film, but a film that displayed many different aspects of the female and the male character in the movie. The film was more than a story, but a story that explored the ideas of the detective genre and the different characteristics of femininity and masculinity. It also brought forth subjects of sexual desires and the greediness of money. The characters and the visual motifs in the film contributed to the developing of the plot and assisted in creating a more detective and gender oriented film. In the film, The Maltese Falcon, the role of men and women are portrayed in different ways in the film to show the distinct functions of masculinity and femininity between the characters. Sam said to Effie, "Your a nice rattle brain angel." Sam Spade's assistant, Effie is a conservative and a practical woman.
As the detective's assistant, she possesses more of masculine qualities than feminine qualities. Since she works in an environment around men, she has a tendency to be more influenced by their activities and their ideas. Sam said to Effie, "Your a detective darling." Her voice seems to be monotone which shows her as a strong and an independent person. Although she may act this way, she is still a woman who is somewhat ladylike and very polite. In some ways, women are used to bring forth the ideas of sex and lust, but in this case, Effie's role was necessary in helping the story to develop and to present how the role of woman could be played and perceived.
Sam said to Effie, "Your a good man, sister." Effie possessed many masculine qualities and this quote helped to reinforce the idea of it all. Another female role that was a part of the film was Iva, who was the wife of Miles. She was very lady-like and beautiful which helped her to use her image and personality in a way to receive certain things. Miles was Sam Spade's partner in the detective business. Her character as a woman is somewhat different from Effie's.
Iva and Sam Spade once had a history together even though she was married to Miles. Iva said to Sam, "You killed my husband, Sam, be kind to me." She sets up a different role for woman because of her actions and of the characteristics that she possesses. In a way, she thinks that Sam Spade is in love with her and for that reason, she thought that he had killed her husband so that they could be together. Iva's role fits into the genre of female characters because of her femininity.
She used her figure as a power tool and focused on her image to express the way she felt. Women in these cases were very distracting to the male characters in the film. Sam said to Iva, "You shouldn't have come here today, precious. It wasn't wise. You can't stay." This shows that Iva was in the way of Sam Spade's work. Iva was seen as a suspicious character in film as well.
Effie said to Sam, "She kept me waiting at the door while she undressed, her clothes on a chair where she dumped her hat and coat underneath, her slip was still warm." This quote described the suspicions that Effie had about Iva on the night that Miles, Iva's husband was murdered. Sam could trust Effie, but both Effie and Sam had a hard time trusting Iva. This may have meant that some men may have a harder time trusting woman who are very feminine. A character that Sam Spade had a hard time trusting was a woman named Brigid O'Shaughnessy, who was also know as Miss Wonder ly. Effie said to Sam, "She's a knockout." Not only did Effie and Sam Spade see that she was pretty, but so did his partner, Miles.
Miles said to Sam, "She's sweet... Maybe you saw her first, but I spoke first." Brigid takes on the sexy woman figure whose voice is gentle, helpless, and manipulative all at the same time. She is very self-centered and tends to deceive others in order to get what she wants. Brigid said to Sam, "Can't you shield me so that I won't have to answer their questions... I am afraid and alone." She has a way of playing with words and using emotions to receive other people's comfort. She also said to Sam, "Your brave, your strong, you can spare me some of that courage surely." Since she came to Sam because she was in trouble with her past, she can relate to the genre of woman in general.
They have a tendency to seek men when they are in need, or only when they are in trouble. Her character follows through with the "dark past" theme. Since she has deceived him many times, it was hard for Sam to believe what words that came out of her mouth. Sam said to Brigid, "If you were actually as innocent as you pretend to be, we would never get anywhere." She wasn't able to receive his trust, so in many ways, this showed that women could not be trusted and that it portrayed women in a lower view.
"Haven't you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothing else? This shows that she was desperate and willing enough to receive his trust through the exchange of money. "What else can I buy you with?" Towards the end of the film, it showed how hard she tried to convince him that she still loved him so that she wouldn't go to jail. "I would have come back to you soon, from the very first instant I saw you, I knew." Through this you could figure out the true personality of Brigid and how she worked. Brigid wasn't the only one who tried to trick a person into something, Sam lied as well in order to find out the truth.
Brigid said to Sam, "You " ve been playing with me, just pretending you cared to trap me like this... you didn't care at all, you don't love me." Detective Sam Spade is a hard-boiled man who is not really fond of women who are untruthful and is very straight forward. Gutman said to Sam, "I am a man that like stalking to a man that likes to talk." Gutman was a man that Sam was dealing with in order to find the statue that everyone was looking for and to receive money for it. In some ways, Sam was like a actor because he acted in many different ways. He was even unreadable and surprising to the characters in the film and to the audience. He is cautious of the decisions that he makes and does not let his feelings in the way of his logical decisions.
Sam said to Brigid, "Since I got something on you, I am not sure that you wouldn't put a hole in me someday." Miles, his assistant on the other hand is opposite from him. Sam said to Brigid, "He[Miles] was just dumb enough for that. He would have looked you up and down and licked his lips and have gone grinning from here to ear and you could have stood as close to him as you like in the dark and put a hole through him that evening." One weakness that Miles had was his desire for beautiful women. He is portrayed as a lustful man in the film. Sam and Miles both took part in the detective genre by their images. They both smoked, wore hats, wore suits, drank, and spoke in a low, stern voice.
Besides that, the film took place in an office in San Francisco where the weather was foggy and cold which fit into the genre of detective films. Both the male and the female roles could be seen in many different view points. The male characters took on their position as masculine characters as the feminine characters came into the story. Through films the different roles that women and men portray are easily detectable because it is seen through the eyes of the audience and not read from a novel.
The director of the film was able to use more visual motifs and more body language through the different characters to display the distinct characteristics of each character. Although Effie took on a female role, she possessed many masculine characteristics which allowed it possible for her to get along with the men in the film. The other women in the film took on the classic role of the female characters as helpless, seductive, or conniving. The male characters took on the customary roles as the ones who were strict and cautious, while others sought only for lust and money.
Some of the male characters were able to control their feelings and did not allow their emotions to come in the way of their moral decisions while some couldn't restrain themselves from the lustful feelings they had inside. Sam said to Brigid, "If they hang you, I will always remember you... you never played square with me for the half hour to the stretch that I've known you." Even though Sam had feelings for Brigid, he was still going to turn her in for the murder she had committed. He was not going to allow his desires for her come between his morals and his profession. Through this many things were accomplished such as portraying the genre of detectives, the genre of female and male figures, and the roles that the characters which led up to the ending of the story.