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Thursday, November 28, 2013


During the past week I seem to have focused on birds:  the Mockingjay, a Pueo and, of course, Turkeys, with today being #3.  So to continue this trend I start today with the Maltese Falcon.

There is that 1930 book by Dashiell Hammet, rated #56 by the Modern Library among the 100 best English-language novels, featuring Sam Spade, for Hammet's birth name was Samuel.  The first Maltese Falcon was filmed in 1931 starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam.  

Little is known of a 1936 Satan Met a Lady, with Bette Davis and Warren William, with the latter playing Sam Spade as Ted Shane.  Click this to watch the whole movie, and Davis actually looked good, while the bird was a horn.

Then came in 1941 the blockbuster, Humphrey Bogart's Maltese Falcon, with Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet (his first film) and Mary Astor as that femme fatale.   This could well have been the first Film Noir (stylish Hollywood crime drama with sexual motivations).  Find Walter Huston in this version.  Rotten Tomatoes had TMF at 100% for reviewers and 92% for audience like.  

Finally, in 1975, The Black Bird with George Segal, who plays Sam Spade, Jr. in a satire.  Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a 57% rating, though the audience liked it, 93%.  Interesting that this version did better with moviegoers, and no one  has s seen it.

Okay, so what exactly is this Black Bird, or Maltese Falcon?

In 1539 the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels——but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day——[8]
Introductory text appearing after the film's opening credits

Well, this lead statue is 12 inches tall, weighs 45 pounds and was just sold for $4,085,000 to an unidentified buyer.  This was the one original from the 1941 film.  The Knight Templar's version?  You would think that if you went Malta, there would be foot tall souvenirs of this bird?  Nope.  Apparently, like Dan Brown's Holy Grail, these were mostly convenient historical references to conjure imaginations.

Of all the things, this original figurine apparently was on a piano in a 1932 film with John Wayne (he was 25 years old) entitled Haunted Gold.  You can, actually purchase a lighter replica for $100.

Oh, by the way, there is a $150 million Maltese Falcon, but it's a ship:

While almost a football field length, the largest is the 557 ft long Eclipse, owned by Russian Roman Abramovich (only 47, he started selling rubber ducks from his Moscow apartment--had to link with a bird), worth more than $1.5 billion.

I had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Betsy and Harvey Lee.  Of course, scotch, champagne and white wine preceded and segued into the meal.  Here is Turkey, not Harvey, but the almost totally consumed bird to the right:

Daughter Minda, with May, and Leona:

The astonishing thing is that Minda and I talked at length about 15 Craigside, for she (and note how young she is) and her husband James, are already planning their  future life, and 15 Craigside is something they have already looked into.  Leona was my ride home.  There is benefit to not driving if you drink.


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