The Maltese Falcon (1941) review

Movie Still from The Maltese Falcon (1941)

I agree with most movie critics that The Maltese Falcon (1941) is indeed a classic.

Upon viewing the film, I quickly took note of the low production lighting that gave an increasing dramatic effect throughout the scenes. I constantly questioned why dark lighting isn’t taken advantaged of in today’s modern filmmaking, it really does have a profound effect on characters. Another trait of the film was the extremely low camera angles. When compared to other films of the classical Hollywood era, The Maltese Falcon uses these extreme camera angles when you would least expect it. Often times the frame would be positioned in very odd locations on the set. Regardless, it is a brilliant plan of camera setup and made a striking impression on the product of the scenes.

There is one scene in which I was impressed the most for its “long shot” which I am a huge fan of. The scene involved the main character Sam Spade being escorted by a henchman named Wilmer to a meeting room where “the fat man” resides. Spade enters the hallway and has a very brief struggle with Wilmer, stripping Wilmer of his pistols. Spade only does it to show off that Wilmer is only an amateur bodyguard in his profession. Spade then continues down the hallway and into the doorway where “the fat man” who is revealed as Kasper Gutman greets him. The fact that this scene alone was done as in one shot really says a great deal of time and effort placed into rehearsing this one scene. This type of “long shots” can really engage an audience to a scene any film. The continuous attributes of the “long shot” can gain momentum during a scene and by not allowing any breaks or cuts in shots can be less distracting for viewers. My theory is that a general audience changes their behavior for movies as time progresses onward. I think that the audience subconsciously expects a certain style of shots that are constantly being shown to them repeatedly in theaters. This includes jump cuts or cuts between shots that are supposed to be “seamless”, but can also remind the audience that there are cameras within the vicinity of the setting. By working with “long shots” the viewers tend to concentrate more on the scene itself and results in less distraction of the actual production. I see “long shots” more frequently being used in today’s filmmaking in great success and by using this technique shows more than the proof of quality involved.


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