The Maltese Falcon Essay Research Paper The

The Maltese Falcon Essay, Research Paper

The Changing Of Characters

Many time in our lives, we have seen the

transformation of novels into movies. Some of them

are equal to the novel, few are superior, and most

are inferior. Why is this? Why is it that a story

that was surely to be one of the best written

stories ever, could turn out to be Hollywood

flops? One reason is that in many transformations,

the main characters are changed, some the way they

look, others the way they act. On top of this,

scenes are cut out and plot is even changed. In

this essay, I will discuss some of the changes

made to the characters of the Maltese Falcon as

they make their transformation to the ?big


The first character that we read or see is Sam

Spade. In the book he is written as being tall and

lanky with blond hair, and a recurring v-motif

that makes him out to be what Hammett describes as

a ?blond Satan.? With these descriptions, we can

easily make out a powerful image of what Sam Spade

must look like in our heads. When we have an image

of what something is going to be like and it turns

out to not at all be what we expected, we are

often let down, disappointed.This is due to the

casting of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. His hair

is brown, and his, round, soft face is the

farthest a face can come from having a satanic

v-motif. Although Humphrey Bogart?s acting was

very good, it was intruded by my perception of

what Sam Spade was supposed to look like.

Brigid O?Shaunessey is the villianess of this

story, the ?femme fatale?

as we sometimes refer to her in class. She is

always lying and scheming to get what she wants.

In the book, her quest is aided very well by her

gorgeous looks. The first image we get of Miss

O?Shaughnessey is that of a tall redhead with long

legs, red hair, and beautiful red lips. This image

of her may have been influenced by the picture

that is on the cover of the book, but the

publishers wouldn?t have pout it there if that

wasn?t the image they got of her either.

The movie does not do Miss O?Shaughnessey justice

as the novel very well does. In the novel, she is

portrayed as a young, voluptuous, beautiful woman.

Although she is somewhat beautiful in the movie,

she does not reach the standards that are set for

her in the novel. The legs that Sam Spade sees as

she enters his office offer an idea as to what

kind of person Miss O?Shaughnessey is: someone who

uses her sexuality to persuade others. This is a

very important part of the story, and the movie

failed to deal with it. A technological

disadvantage that the movie had was the absence

color. In the novel, Miss O?Shaughnessey?s hair is

described as ?darkly red.? Her red hair helps to

develop a devilish theme that goes along very well

with her intentions and her personality. This is

also missed in the movie.

The character Joel Cairo is one of the most

interesting in the book, and the movie as well. I

thought he was perfectly cast by the production

crew and they did a very good job of including the

necessary details about him: the perfumed business

card, the white handkerchief, and his girlish

voice. I thought the portrayal of Cairo in the

movie was better than that of the book largely due

to the fact that he was a homosexual. We could

hear his voice and see his movements much better

in the movie. When we hear a voice, if it is

flagrant enough, we can almost automatically tell

if someone is a homosexual. The same goes for the

movements that they make, or how they react to

being hit or punched. These things cannot be

picked up in the book and I think they are

important to his character. I believe that the

movie has a better portrayal of Joel Cairo than

the book does.

Samuel Spades secretary, Effie Perine, is one of

the most important characters in the novel.

Constantly she is taking care of Sam, making sure

he knows what he is doing. You could say that she

is somewhat of a conscience for him. Sam trusts

her very much. In fact, she is the only one that

he does trust. I believe that the movie and the

novel are very close in their portrayals of Effie

Perine. The one thing that was not good about her

portrayal in the movie was her appearance. In the

book, Effie is portrayed as a small, petite,

mousy, kind of tomboyish woman. This helps to

make her be the kind of woman that Sam could never

fall for. Yet in the movie, she in a tall, blond,

voluptuous, sexy woman that is in no way the Effie

Perine that we have in our minds eye.

Then there is Wilmer, the boy, the ?gunsul.? He

is Gutman’s right hand man and handles all of his

dirty work for him. The movie and the novel are

quite equal in their portrayal of Wilmer. He

looks, talks, walks, and acts like he did in the

book. They did a good job making Wilmer come to

the ?big screen.?

Now that brings us to Casper Gutman. The

mastermind (or shall we just say mind) behind this

escapade. His name is a rather comical play on

words as Mr. Gutman is a large man with a very

large gut. The movie did a very good job in making

Casper Gutman into a movie villain. Everything

that he is in the book, he is in the movie. The

director uses camera very well to accentuates the

size of Gutman?s belly which is quite amusing.

Casper Gutman in the movie is exactly how I

pictured him to be in the book. I was very pleased

and I don?t think that the movie audience will

miss a thing about him.

I must say that The Maltese Falcon is one of the

best books i have ever read. I also must say that

the movie was nothing special, although I enjoyed

it. The Maltese Falcon in no way strays from the

stereotype that movies which are made from novels

are not of the same quality as the novel. The

movies usually do the books a disservice as

characters are changed and often scenes are left

out. I think that it is terrible how Hollywood

changes the plot and characters from what the

author originally intended. The result is missing

plot, and absence of necessary theme. When t


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