The Maltese Falcon
Sam Spade is caught in a frantic search for the jeweled falcon of Malta and his partner’s killer. His pursuit leads him to a group of desperate individuals who also want the bird.
A true film noir classic, The Maltese Falcon contains all the light and shadow techniques that are typical of the genre. Under the helm of cinematographer Arthur Edeson (founder of the American Society of Cinematographers), interior scenes are lit with minimal lighting, while outdoor scenes mostly take place at night. The shadows these light sources cast highlight the shady dealings of the characters, and create a atmosphere of suspicion.
Shortly after the premiere of this, his debut feature, director John Huston published an article where he expressed gratitude to Edeson for his expertise, going on to say that “cinematographers are, as a class, perhaps the most invaluable and yet generally underrated men in Hollywood.” Though the phrasing is slightly archaic by today’s standards, Huston’s reverence for cinematographers informed the remainder of his career as of Hollywood’s most famous directors.