Spade walking down to examine a murder makes use of shadows as well as high black-white contrast in order to convey drama and suspense. This is commonly referred to as the film noir lighting technique because it conveys a sense of mystery and danger. The lighting highlights the most extreme contours of the character's faces, but none of the moderating details such as texture or color. This makes the facial expressions look much more dramatic than they would under normal lighting.
The costumes are also very typical of the film noir genre. Spade is wearing a black wool overcoat and a fedora and his counterpart from the police station is wearing the same outfit. This is a style of dress associated with detectives, who sometimes had to conceal their identity and not stand out. The overcoat conceals much of the person's figure and could conceal weapons or other objects.
The camera follows Spade as he makes his way down from the second floor, surveying the scene of the crime as he does so. This shot, with Spade looking down on the scene from a superior vantage point, conveys the character's aptitude for alert and detached observation.
Humphrey Bogart's acting in this scene is very expressive. He walks briskly, almost hurrying down to the scene while never taking his eyes off of it. His pace and facial expression indicate that this scene will present something important for the plot. Once he gets down to the scene, Spade discusses the incident with his counterpart from the police station, giving an incisive analysis of the crime scene and presenting the most probable scenarios for the officer, who is clearly in deference to Spade's professional expertise. Spade paces around running the events through his mind, while the officer is flat-footed and stationary. The scene establishes Spade's style as an unusually keen, inquisitive, and alert detective with an eye for details.
2. James Fenimore Cooper, being one of the most popular Romantic novelists not only in America but also in Western Europe, Cooper had a huge influence on perceptions of America and the American identity. Cooper was writing while America was still a fledgling Republic and his writings gave the European world a glimpse into American life in a comfortably European style.
As a novelist, Cooper was a product of the literary trends of his time. He was a Romanticist who celebrated strong emotions and strong opinions above all, the passion and intensity of the individual. He liked characters who stood out, not only to the reader but to the world which his characters inhabited. Cooper's Romanticist values shaped the character of his heroes and his skill as a novelist shaped the very notion of what an American hero should be.
In the Last of the Mohicans, the white-gone-native Hawkeye demonstrates the passion and intensity which Cooper admired. Hawkeye's passion, though, is not for a woman, nor even a political cause, but for a way of life. Hawkeye loves the way of life taught to him by his Mohican friend Chingatook, the way of life that Americans lived before the arrival of Western civilization.
Hawkeye protects the way of life that he loves by practicing it with great skill. He is a survivalist, the hardy frontiersmen who has learned to navigate the dangers of his environs. He is adaptable and can master the techniques necessary for survival in his environment, as demonstrated by Hawkeye's skill with the rifle, which is renowned even among the sharpshooting native Americans. Thus, Hawkeye demonstrates the characteristically American virtue of self-reliance.
Hawkeye's practical, survivalist instincts place him at risk of being an emotionally distant and cold technician. However, Hawkeye manages to project a sense of humanity and warmth, even as he is attempting to guide the party through fatal terrain. Hawkeye possesses that characteristic American gregariousness and affability. He is a simple and honest, yet rugged and strong individual who does what he knows is right. He is compassionate, optimistic, and courageous to the point of rashness.
Hawkeye also demonstrates the sense of self-expression and individuality of opinion that has come to characterize Americans. Unlike the other Whites in the novel, Hawkeye is unaffected by Eurocentric prejudices of native Americans and the new world. Hawkeye recognizes the beauty and wisdom of the Mohican way of life and tries to preserve it in any way he can. As a frontiersmen, he is content to take what nature gives for sustenance and nothing more. Hawkeye recognizes the crimes of his own race in America and champions the native American way of life, representing a new breed of American.
Cooper distinguishes the adaptable American frontier hero through contrast with the more rigid, uptight British Duncan Heyward. Heyward is a good man and a hero in his own right, but in a very conventional, knightly, old-world manner. He is exceedingly noble, upright, dutiful, and reliable. He is also reserved, repressed, and pessimistic. Although an American from the South, he seeks professional and social advancement through service in the British army. Heyward represents the old world, the world of sedentary, civilized Europeans who are hopelessly out of their element in the new world of America.
Heyward's secret substitution of himself as a human sacrifice in place of Hawkeye is the most complete expression of his character. It demonstrated his nobility, sense of honor, and a surprisingly sentimental heart hiding beneath the stiff upper lip. Heyward's death, a primitive sacrifice, in the forest at the hands of the Hurons also symbolizes the end of the old world ideal of heroism in America. His kind, though strong and courageous, do not have the adaptability and sheer recklessness that it takes to survive on the frontier, which was what most of America was at the time.
Fenimore's frontier hero is essentially a loner and an outsider. He is always on the outside looking in. Cooper's frontier hero exerted influence far beyond the forests and plains of unsettled America. Cooper's archetypal loner would also find a place in the film noir genre, through characters such as The Maltese Falcon's Sam Spade.
Yes, the American heroic ideal is that of a loner, an outsider. The hero's outsider status enables him to examine his surroundings with a sense of detachment. As he is never comfortable, he is always alert and highly adaptable, able to survive by his wits in any situation, no matter how foreign or dangerous. The American hero is also something of an iconoclast. They are always going against the flow, resisting their society in order to protect it, whereas the traditional hero protects the community by upholding its values in the face of outsiders. In American films, the community itself is the source of villainy, usually because of cowardice, hypocrisy, lust, or greed. The American hero is able to penetrate the veils of his society because he is an iconoclast and a loner.
In the Last of the Mohicans, Hawkeye is an outsider to the Europeans in America. He is also an outsider to the native Americans themselves. This, however, is his key advantage in the many-sided conflict because it allows him to gain a more detached understanding of the desires and fears of each side. He uses this understanding to persuade the Huron chief from Magua's pro-French course of action, thereby saving the party from group execution.
In the Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade demonstrates the grittiness, detachment, determination, and survival instincts of the loner hero. Sam Spade, a detective in 1930s Los Angeles, is drawn into an increasingly disturbing and lethal treasure hunt, filled with cold-blooded murderers and thieves from around the world. Spade pursues the case even after learning that his client deceived him and is using him to pursue her own unknown objectives. Spade is disgusted with his client and the characters…