Friday, November 10, 2006
This film is about a new consciousness that America has gleaned from it's collective experience in the First and now the impending reality of the Second World War.
Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade plays the American, the democrat, a thread the world hangs on to, their only hope in a world plunging towards a Second Great War. As the Conscience of Humanity, he finds the himself at the centre of the power plays and greed of Empires and powerful interests, played in their various characters.
Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy an apparent love interest, but in the larger sense the British Empire; Kasper Gutman as the German Imperialist, not evil but logical, focusing on his ends, justifying his means; and Peter Lorre playing the French Colonial Interest as Joel Cairo the man "capable of Anything" in Gutman's opinion, he is amoral self interested.
Sam Spade returns to Gutman's Apartments for a discussion of the price to deliver the Falcon; in this scene Gutman promises a World in riches - he talks of the myth of the Knights Templar - perhaps contained with-in the shell of the Maltes Falcon. He's tempting Sam, as a metaphor for American Democracy, with the powers of World Empire. Drugged, something in his drink, Spade(America?) passes out; the tables have been turned, Gutman has milked Spade for information - and given nothing in return.
In the final scene of the movie at Spades Detective Office, Sam has covered all his bases. In the end his play wins, he can have the Falcon, the girl, anything he wants. Yet he knows, through his experience of real freedom, the there's only one option. He chooses the Democratic path, The Rule of Law and calls the cops.
As always in Hollywood, a happy ending... .