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Agnuslims in the West

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The Maltese Falcon

1.The most recent lightweight falcon to appear at auction is the Chekmayan resin copy, last sold in 2008, possibly used in publicity photographs with Bogart. Another commonly seen version is the "raised breast feather" bird, made of plaster or some other lightweight material and painted black. Many of these date from 1975, when Warner Bros. executive Shirley Krim commissioned a limited edition series of "raised breast feather" birds to be distributed to executives and other industry VIPs. That edition of 250 was issued with a small plaque on the pedestal identifying the bird as part of a special edition, but this plaque is often missing. None of the "raised breast feather" birds, whatever their vintage, are a visual match to the bird that appears on screen in the 1941 film.2.The seller notes that only a statuette made of a malleable material like lead would be bent in a fall. To learn more about this film, click here.

The Maltese Falcon

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Spade soon realizes that O'Shaughnessy, Cairo, and Cairo's boss, Casper Gutman, are all seeking an elusive falcon statuette once owned by the legendary Knights of Rhodes. Sam Spade is not a man to shy away from a fight, but he is also clever enough to play along in order to find the falcon and prove himself innocent.

Sam SpadeCool and strong, grinning his way through his middle thirties, this cagey private detective becomes caught in a chase for the falcon after someone guns down his partner, Miles Archer, in an alley. Spade's personal code drives him to avenge the murder-though whether from honor or just good business is for readers to decide.

Casper GutmanCairo's corpulent employer describes himself as a man not "easily discouraged when he wants something." His obsession has led him on a 17-year search for the falcon.

The credits wash down the screen over a view of the legendary Maltese Falcon - a black figurine that casts a dark shadow from an angular source of light. [All four major stars' names, Bogart, Astor, George, and Lorre - in that order - appear on the second screen, following the film title.] The mysterious legend of the fabled, treasured statuette (a fictional account) scrolls up the screen (above the falcon) to set the stage: :

[Note: it was a significant deviation from the actual annual tribute (a live falcon bird) paid each year (until the year 1798) by the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem to the Spanish emperor.]

He hurriedly comforts her and brushes her off - not wanting anything more to do with her. He dismisses her out the door and gives her a half-hearted promise to see her later. [Despite their obvious past, he is now sickened by the widowed woman (dressed to resemble the black, lead falcon revealed at the end). His newfound curiosity for the elusive Brigid O'Shaughnessy replaces his desire for Iva - a woman now uninteresting because of Archer's murder.]

In THE MALTESE FALCON, private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets a visit from Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor), who asks him to help find her sister. Sam sends his partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan), to follow her when she meets Floyd Thursby, the man she thinks her sister is with, and both Archer and Thursby are killed. It turns out that the woman is really Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and it turns out it's not her sister she's seeking, but a small, jeweled statue of a falcon, and she's mixed up with some people who will do anything to get it. One of those people is Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), who comes to see Sam to insist -- with a gun -- that he be allowed to search Sam's office to see if it's there. Sam is not at all intimidated by Joel, but allows him to search. Also after the statue is Mr. Gutman, "the fat man" (Sidney Greenstreet), with his "gunsel," Wilmer. They alternately threaten and attempt to bribe Sam, while Brigid appeals to his protective nature and his heart. But Sam turns them all over to the police, including Brigid, whom he loves.

Brigid lures Spade into her plan to sell a jewel-encrusted statuette of a falcon to her former gang: Casper Gutman (the head boss), Joel Cairo (his right-hand man), and Wilmer (his hitman). Cairo and Wilmer take turns making Spade's life miserable. They tail him, drug him, mug him, and hold him at gunpoint to find out what he and Brigid know about the whereabouts of the falcon. But Spade's no fool. With the help of his faithful secretary Effie Perrine, he uses his quick wits and mental toughness to determine that the history of the Maltese falcon is in fact authentic.

Spade offers to hand over the falcon to Gutman in exchange for ten grand, but also insists that they need a "fall guy" to give to the police. Gutman agrees to turn Wilmer in for both murders since he had killed Thursby and it would be a cinch to pin Archer's murder on him. Spade then phones Effie to bring over the package, but when Spade produces the falcon, it turns out to be a fake! Thwarted. Gutman vows to continue his search for the ancient relic, and all the bad guys flee.

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. Film Noir directed by John Huston and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. It stars Humphrey Bogart as Hardboiled Detective Sam Spade, Mary Astor as his Femme Fatale client, Sydney Greenstreet (in his film debut) as the sinister "fat man" Kasper Gutman, and Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook Jr. as Gutman's Ambiguously Gay sidekicks. The story concerns Spade's dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers who compete to obtain a fabulous jewel-encrusted statuette of a falcon.

The Maltese Falcon, a1941 Outstanding Crime Film Noir: In this noir classic, detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets more than he bargained for when he takes a case brought to him by a beautiful but secretive woman (Mary Astor). As soon as Miss Wonderly shows up, trouble follows as Sam's partner is murdered and Sam is accosted by a man (Peter Lorre) demanding he locate a valuable statuette. Sam, entangled in a dangerous web of crime and intrigue, soon realizes he must find the one thing they all seem to want: the bejeweled Maltese falcon.

Hank Risan owns two authenticated Maltese Falcon statuettes from the 1941 film production that bear Fred Sexton's distinctive "F.S." markings and they are widely regarded as two of the most valuable film props in the history of cinema. In 2004, UCLA Professor Richard Walter, a court-approved expert appraiser, supported the high valuations in an eloquent comparison to another highly-prized film prop: one of four pairs of ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the iconic Wizard of Oz, which sold for $666,000 in 2001. "But whatever the slippers' value," Professor Walter wrote, "it has to be less than that of the falcons because the slippers are merely one prop, albeit an important one in the movie. The falcons on the other hand are the namesake props that define the picture itself. It is significant in the extreme that in addition to being important props they are also the title of the film."

"Life imitates art," stated Mr. Risan. "What's amazing is that in the film Spade and Gutman discuss the value of the falcon in similar terms. The rara avis has a unique backstory as compelling off-screen as in the film. The black birds are truly objects d'art." 041b061a72

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