Here's my little contribution to the Close-up Blog-a-thon over at The House Next Door.
One of my favorite moments in THE MALTESE FALCON comes when Wilmer regains consciousness, only to find that he's been set up as the patsy by the Fat Man and Joel Cairo. We alternate between close-up shots of Wilmer's (played wonderfully by Elisha Cook jr.) increasingly incredulous face, and the wicked visages of his betrayers:
Wilmer looks up, searching the faces of his "gang" starting with Casper Gutman, aka The Fat Man.
Sydney Greenstreet. His movie debut and his presence is already formidable.
So far Wilmer's worried and little confused. He next looks to Cairo...
...Who doesn't have an ounce of pity or anything else showing on his face. Peter Lorre is fantastic in this movie, my favorite pairing of him and Bogart.
Wilmer turns to Sam Spade.
Speaking of Bogart, his expression in this close-up is priceless. At this point we're not sure what Spade's intentions are, and this cocky look doesn't give us any clues except that he's got a plan.
Here it is. Wilmer officially knows he is up the proverbial creek without a paddle. There's only one more person to turn to...
And Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaughnessy's stare says it all.
That's it. No dialog, just a series of close-ups that shows a man just how screwed he is!