Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Cain and Hammett

From: Patrick King (
Date: 06 Oct 2007

--- Raymond Tait <> wrote:
> I would say if you are making a case for The Maltese
> Falcon as a noir
> novel then Brigid is the character to focus on
> rather than Sam Spade.
> If Spade was a true noir character he would have
> gone down with her somehow.

I can't see Brigid as a tragic noir villianess like Cora, for example. Brigid is pathologically manipulative with no redeeming virtues except her beauty. Spade knows this when he meets her. Brigid fools no one except perhaps Thursby, Miles Archer and Captain Jacoby. The rest of the important males in the book are sociopaths with homosexual tendencies and are not moved by Brigid at all. Spade understand all too well how these types of criminals think. One wonders where he learned it, as their pathology is very complex and involved. Guttman even warns Spade that Brigid is dangerous. In the movie at least you can see that Bogart's Spade is being sarcastic when he acknowledges Guttman's warning. He knows how crazy she is. This fact undermines even his fondness for Effie and his willingness to use her to his own ends. Note he sends this psycho to stay with his secretary AND her invalid mother, knowing full well that she's a dangerous person being followed by dangerous people. But note also, while Wilma killed Jacoby, it was Brigid who killed Miles & Thursby. You can argue that in Wilma's mind it was necessary to kill Jacoby to reclaim the Falcon. But there was no reason at all for Brigid to murder either Miles or Thursby. It was a crazy thing to do. On the scale of most evil, Wilma is about a 7, psychopath who kills for profit at the behest of a superior, while Brigid O'Shannassey is at 16, psychopath who kills for no reason.

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