Document Type



Film Studies Program


This Honors thesis discusses the direct connection of America’s cultural ideology surrounding the time of the second World War and Humphrey Bogart’s noir films and their depiction of masculinity. Through an analysis of Bogart’s performances in three pinnacle noir films: The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Big Sleep (1946), and In a Lonely Place (1950), the author proved that after World War II there was a clear shift in the paradigm of gendered expectations, particularly those identified under the umbrella of masculinity. Shifts in American mores regarding masculinity can be charted through Bogart’s archetypal chain as he represents the masculine iconic image. As time progressed, the expected responsibilities of the dominant male figurehead were transferred to the female domestic due to the war effort. This ultimately caused a rift in patriarchal codes that uprooted the strong dominant masculine ideal into a new world order. Bogart’s films noir present a visual and narrative look upon these changes, as both his character and his personal image become unraveled with the changing times. Each film provides a unique look into the damaged masculine ego, from the phallus-power struggle to remain atop the food chain above women and homosexuals in The Maltese Falcon, to the changing of the guard from male to female dominance in The Big Sleep, and lastly to the fall of the pre-war image of masculinity in In a Lonely Place.