Green, Harvey. The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2000.
The Maltese Falcon, which was made in 1941, was made at the beginning of the film noir movement. This movement, it is sometimes said, came out of the attitude of the American people, who had just experienced a World War and a depression, and who were just entering a second deadly war. This view is supported in The Maltese Falcon, a movie where the protagonist doesn’t always choose the right action, and even the ending does not tie up all the loose ends.
The Uncertainty of Everyday Life, 1915-1945 details the disquieting feelings that abounded throughout America during this time period. One terrifying aspect of this book is that it does not need to focus on World War One to show how harsh life could be in pre-depression America. Green, in fact, decides to almost completely avoid talking about The Great War, and focuses on other harsh circumstances such as working conditions, the Palmer raids (against people deemed politically radical), and the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan.
This chapter is followed by one about the stock market crash, and how it negatively impacted the entire nation. Green discusses why the crash happened, and explains just how people were effected by it, even long after recovery measures were put into place. He then talks about how Roosevelt was able to right the economy, but ends by telling the reader how shaken and wary the American public felt after such a debilitating period of time.
The rest of the book holds very little for people trying to relate national feelings to The Maltese Falcon, or to film noir in general. Green begins by talking about how hard it was for many people to obtain houses before 1945, but his last chapters focus on leisure time and what life was like for families that could provide for themselves.