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The Hard-Boiled Crime Solving Process
Transcript of The Hard-Boiled Crime Solving Process
By: Caleigh Griffin
What defines "hard-boiled" detective?
- Lacks sympathy
- Lies when necessary
- Unafraid of clashing with the police
- Makes his/her own rules
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
One of the most important parts of the "hard-boiled" genre is the crime solving process. Sometimes, our detective is mislead by outside entities but in other cases he ends up misleading himself. In Dashiell Hammett's
The Maltese Falcon
is confronted with deceitful people who throw many twists and turns his way while he tries to solve the crime. Similar to Spade being misled by false information, the
deals with a
The Gutting of Couffignal
. Contrasting with Spade's process is
, who unknowingly creates his own twists and turns that mislead him.
The Gutting of Couffignal
by Dashiell Hammett
Spade's Crime Solving Process
Sam Spade is a cunning and sleek detective who moves in and out of legal limits in order to solve crimes. His partner Miles Archer is found dead after being told by Spade's client, Miss Wonderly, to follow a mysterious man named Floyd Thursby. Wonderly, whose real name is Brigid O'Shaughnessy, ends up not being whom she says she is and Spade is forced to cover up her secrets from the police. The police suspect that Spade killed Thursby since he was found dead soon after Archer's death. Spade meets many people who end up feeding him false information, as they are all hiding a much bigger secret than the mystery he is searching for: who killed Archer and Thursby?
Constant Plot Twists
The "Proper" Use of Lies
An important convention within the hard-boiled genre is the tough, rough and somewhat violent detective. Spade is very sarcastic and can easily insult the toughest of police officers. His temperamental personality causes him to have many conflicts with the police and causes him to easily develop malice with other people. He is also easily manipulated by money and is unpredictable if he is bribed the right amount. His tough personality can also help him as he solves crime, because he is stubborn and sticks to his gut while remaining emotionally detached.
Effect of Personality on Process
Spade vs. Police
Spade, O'Shaughnessy and Cairo are discussing the case at Spade's apartment when Lieutenant Dundy and Tom Polhaus arrive. When Spade answers the door, he bluntly tells them that they can't come in:
"Spade's lip twitched over his eyetooth. He said: 'You're not coming in. What do you want to do about it? Try to get in? Or do your talking here? Or go to hell'
Dundy, still speaking through his teeth, said: 'It'd pay you to play along with us a little, Spade. You've gotten away with this and you've gotten away with that, but you can't keep it up forever'.
Stop me when you can
Spade replied arrogantly,"
Spade does this so that he can privately talk to the two potential culprits and get information without getting the police involved. Sometimes police involvement hinders a detective from working outside of the law.
Something unusual about Spade is that he can be bribed to change his method of action when solving a case. Even after Cairo pulls a gun to his head, he still agrees to help him search for the black bird statuette for $5,000:
"Spade nodded indifferently and waved his hand at the articles on the desk, saying: 'There's your stuff'; and then, when Cairo was returning them to his pockets: 'It's understood that you're to pay my expenses while I'm getting this black bird for you, and five thousand dollars when it's done?'
'Yes, Mr. Spade; that is, five thousand dollars less whatever moneys have been advanced to you--five thousand in all.'" (Hammett, 50).
Spade had originally promised Ms. O'Shaughnessy that he would help her out but as soon as Cairo offered the money, he took the case that turns out to be directly connected to her.
"She whispered: 'If you loved me you'd need nothing more on that side.'
Spade set the edges of his teeth together and said through them:
'I won't play the sap for you.'
" (Hammett, 215).
In Carl D. Malmgren's
"The Crime of the Sign: Dashiell Hammett's Detective Fiction",
he describes Hammet's usual scene in his stories: "The world implied in Hammett's works...is an urban chaos, devoid of spiritual and moral values, pervaded by viciousness and random savagery" (372).
The Gutting of Couffignal
, the Continental Op is assigned to guard wedding presents at the Hendrixon house. In the middle of the night, a massive attack occurs in the main town of Couffignal and the Op goes to investigate. Princess Zhukovski tags along with the Op but he manages to get rid of her after a short time. After carefully maneuvering his way around the gunmen and meeting different people along the way, the Op comes to the conclusion that the culprit had been the Princess and her family all along.
In Donnie Darko, Donnie is a troubled teenager who in the beginning is called to by an imaginary friend named Frank. Frank, who is showed wearing a rabbit mask, leads Donnie outside of his house warns him that the end of the world will be in 28 days. As soon as Donnie is given this message, a jet engine falls directly where his room is located. Feeling indebted to Frank, Donnie tries to figure out how he can save the world from "ending", but is in turn manipulated to do terrible things.
In almost every chapter of
The Maltese Falcon
, a new and even crazier plot twist is presented to challenge Spade's crime solving techniques even further. On multiple occasions, Spade's integrity and loyalty is compromised due to the lack of trust he has towards his clients, who make a point to hide the important details from him.
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York: Vintage Crime, 1992. Print.
Malmgren, Carl D. “The Crime of the Sign: Dashiell Hammett’s Detective Fiction.” Twentieth Century Literature (2010): 371-384. JSTOR. Web. 20 Oct 2014.
Mansfield-Kelley, Deane, and Lois A. Marchino. The Longman Anthology of Detective Fiction. New York: Pearson Education, 2005. Print.
Movie Clips. I Won't Play The Sap For You - The Maltese Falcon (9/10) Movie CLIP (1941) HD. YouTube. 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
PakoMorientes. Donnie Darko - Official Trailer . YouTube. N.p., 29 Dec. 2010. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
Viral Film. Donnie Darko - Ripple (Official Clip). YouTube. 16 July 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.
Whitley, John S. “Stirring Things Up: Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op.” Journal of American Studies (2008): 443-455. JSTOR. Web. 20 Nov 2014.
Donnie Darko Movie Poster. Wikipedia. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnie_Darko>.
Donnie Darko with Axe. Liberty Street Geek. 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <http://www.libertystreetgeek.net/donnie-darko/>.
Maltese Falcon. Literary Transgressions. 30 June 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. <http://literarytransgressions.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/the-maltese-falcon-by-dashiell-hammett/>.
Same Spade on Stairs. The Crime Writer's Chronicle. 7 Feb. 2011. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <http://crimewriters.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html>.
The Continental Op. Word Press. 23 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. <http://hamweg.com/2011/10/23/just-the-facts-maam/>.
Works Cited Continued
"Im not christ,"
- Sam Spade
The Thrid Murder
One major plot twist occurs towards the end of the book. A very tall man walks in with a package and ends up dropping dead to the floor:
The man turns out to be Captain Jacobi who had been seen with O'Shaughnessy earlier that day. He had been shot many times in the chest The package that he was carrying also turned out to the precious black bird statuette, making this plot twist even more obscure.
Spade vs. Police
When Spade talks to the District Attorney, he makes a statement that sums up his feelings about police involvement in his cases:
"My only chance of ever catching them and tying them up and bringing them in is by keeping away from you and the police, because neither of you show any signs of knowing what in hell it's all about,"
Because Spade can work outside of the legal system, he has access to more information closely related to the culprit.
Similarities Between Spade's and The Continental Op's Crime Solving Process
Throughout the novel, Spade's crime solving abilities are hindered from the fact that he is lied to by almost every character. Although this is true, Spade also utilizes lies in order to get information and to gain trust. Because he is a private detective, he is able to lie and steal in order to get the information that he wants.
Lies to Get Information
Lies to Get Money
When O'Shaughnessy tries to leave Spade's because she doesn't want to tell him what happened with she and Cairo, Spade lies and tells her that the man who was following him earlier is still outside:
"Post Street was empty when Spade issued into it...When he opened his apartment-door Brigid O'Shaughnessy was standing at the bend in the passageway, holding Cairo's pistol straight down at her side.
'He's still there,'
When Gutman reveals to Spade that the falcon is worth a very large amount of money, Spade lies and says that he knows where the statuette is:
"Gutman, looking thoughtfully at the stopper of the whiskey bottle in his hand, asked: 'There's no doubt that she's got it now?'
'I don't know exactly.'
The fat man set the bottle on the table with a bang. 'But you said you did,' he protested.
Spade made a careless gesture with one hang. 'I meant to say I know where to get it when the time comes,"
Gutman offers Spade $20,000 for the recovery of the statuette and Spade takes full advantage of his offer.
The Ending Explanation
Differences Between The Crime Solving Processes of Spade and Donnie Darko
"The tall man stood in the doorway and there was nothing to show that he saw Spade. He said, 'You know--' and then the liquid bubbling came up in his throat and submerged whatever else he said...When Spade caught him the man's mouth opened and a little blood spurted out, and then the brown-wrapped parcel dropped from the man's hands and rolled across the floor until the foot of the desk stopped it,"
Another major plot twist of the novel is the realization that the falcon that Spade was given is fake. Gutman realizes this after he makes a deal with Spade to trade $10,000 for the statuette:
Gutman decides to go back to Constantinople with Cairo in order to find the real falcon, which leads Spade to call the police on them before they leave.
"[Gutman] let knife and bird bang down on the table where he wheeled to confront Spade. 'It's a fake,' he said hoarsely. Spade's face had become somber. His nod was slow, but there was no slowness in his hand's going out to catch Brigid O'Shaughnessy's wrist. He pulled her to him and grasped her chin with his other hand, raising her face roughly. 'All right,' he growled into her face. 'You've had your little joke. Now tell us about it.' She cried: 'No, Sam, no! That is the one I got from Kemidov I swear--'"
In both Hammett's
The Maltese Falcon
The Gutting of Couffignal
, the story ends with the detective figuring out that the beautiful woman was the main culprit of the big crime. Both Brigid O'Shaughnessy and Princess Zhukovski exhibit traits of initial innocence and both use their femininity to hide their true malicious intent. Both women help guide the detective throughout the story in order to mislead them and tamper with their crime solving processes.
Power of Seduction
The Continental Op
The Continental Op is one of Hammett's well known detectives who has made appearances in many of his stories. He is, "Hammett's first tough-guy detective," (Marchino, 229).
Sam Spade is described as a man who "lives by his own code, moves easily between the legal and illegal worlds, is both idealistic and cynical, and fights crime while refusing to carry a gun," (Marchino, 229).
O'Shaughnessy uses seduction to tempt Spade into protecting her after she finds out that he has spoken with Cairo:
"'I've given you all the money I have.' Tears glistened in her white-ringed eyes. Her voice was hoarse, vibrant. "I've thrown myself on your mercy, told you that without your help I'm utterly lost. What else is there?' She suddenly moved close to him on the setee and cried angrily:
'Can I buy you with my body?'
Princess Zhukovski uses her beauty to try to convince Flippo to kill the Op:
"The boy was weakening. If he had been ten years older, he'd have taken my offer and thanked me for it. But he was young and
--now what I thought of it--
The answer wasn't hard to guess,"
One major different between the two women is the fact that O'Shaughnessy wanted to remain romantic with Spade while the princess wanted the Op dead. Love plays a big role in the overall decisions made when solving the crime. Spade was a little bit more hesitant because of O'Shaughnessy's love for him but the Op ended up shooting the princess in the leg with little remorse.
After Spade calls O'Shaughnessy out on her constant lies, he figures out why she murdered his partner Miles Archer:
"Spade said: 'You thought Floyd would tackle him and one or the other of them would go down. If Thursby was the one then you were rid of him. If Miles was, then you could see that Floyd was caught and you'd be rid of him. That it?'
'S-something like that,'"
All along, O'Shaughnessy was just try get rid of Thursby because she realized that she couldn't trust him.
The Continental Op in Other Works
After the Op accuses her of being involved with the robbery, the princess reveals her family's motive:
"There was no place for us in the world. Outcasts easily become outlaws"
Her family ended up being cast out of society and they had little to live off of so they decided to go through with the robbery.
At the end of each story, both detectives provide an explanation about what it means for them to be a detective:
The Continental Op
"I'm a detective and expecting me to run criminals down and then let them go is like asking a dog to catch a rabbit and let it go. It can't be done, all right, and sometimes it is done, but it's not the natural thing. The only way I could have let you go was by letting Gutman and Cairo and the kid go,'"
"'Now I'm a detective because I happen to like the work. It pays me a fair salary, but I could find other jobs that would pay more...Now I pass up about twenty-five or thirty thousand of honest gain because I like being a detective, like the work. And liking work makes you want to do it as well as you can,'"
Both detectives show similarities in their crime solving processes because they both provide an explanation to the
about why they can't let them free.
, we see the Continental Op develop some of Spade's personality traits:
"Hammett's Op immerses himself in the destructive element. In a city where everyone says one thing with his mouth and another with his eyes; where language has become such a debased currency that the Chief of Police, Noonan, finds everything that happens 'fine'; and where a father can, without compunction, set his son up as a patsy, the Op finds himself at home and 'stirs things up.' He becomes a master shape-changer, liar, a treacherous manipulator..."
Both Donnie and Spade have to figure out their own cases themselves. Because Miles Archer is killed at the very beginning of The Maltese Falcon, Spade works alone and has to figure everything out for himself. Like Spade, Donnie also works alone but unlike Spade, he actually guides himself by using his imaginary friend Frank as a way to figure out how to prevent the world from ending.
, Donnie is provided with hints and guidance from a number of people but his imaginary friend Frank (aka himself), who tells him to do horrible things, provides the most guidance. Though Donnie ends up unconsciously flooding the school and setting a man's house on fire, these violent acts end up having good outcomes.
Solving the Crime
The Maltese Falcon
Spade is forced to work alone after Archer is killed while following Thursby. When talking to his secretary Effie, she points out his stubbornness when it comes to listening to other people:
"'You worry me,' she said, seriousness returning to her face as she talked. 'You always think you know what you're doing, but you're too slick for your own good, and some day you're going to find it out.'
He sighed mockingly and rubber his cheek against her arm. 'That's what Dundy says...' He stood up and put on his hat. 'Have the Spade & Archer taken off the door and Samuel Spade put on,'"
At the end of the movie, Donnie has to sacrifice himself in order for the world to continue peacefully, so he is sent back in time and Frank never calls him to come outside when the jet engine falls on his room.
At the end of the book, Spade solves the crime by protecting himself and turning in O'Shaughnessy rather than himself:
"He croaked. 'Don't be silly. You're taking the fall. One of us has got to take it, after the talking those birds will do. They'd hang me sure. You're likely to get a better break,'"
"28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That is when the world will end."
- Frank from Donnie Darko
Flooding the School
Setting the Motivational Speaker's House on Fire
By flooding the school, it gets canceled and Donnie ends up meeting Gretchen, who ends up being his girlfriend and plays a key role in the "saving of the world".
After setting the motivational speaker's house on fire, the police find a child sex dungeon in his basement and he gets arrested.
In this film, each negative action has a positive impact, and Frank tells Donnie to do these different things throughout the movie.