Maltese Falcon- Revisiting the 1941 Crime Scene – The Black Bird, Huston, Hodel, Sexton Part II
February 23, 2016
Los Angeles, California
My friend, J.R. Neumiller, when hearing in my earlier blog that I was off to catch the 75th-anniversary screening of The Maltese Falcon left a comment on my earlier blog as follows, “Why do I get the impression you’ll cine away with a clew?”
Well, J.R., I saw the film on Sunday, and while not exactly discovering a clew, I did come away with one thought/observation regarding the “Black Bird” dueling dingus controversy and a second previously undiscovered highly ironic coincidence. Here they are:
Bird in the Hand Forty Seven Pounds?
In watching the original 1941 film it became apparent (at least to me) that the “Black Bird” being handled fairly spritely by Sam Spade (Bogart) and others clearly did not weigh the “forty-seven pounds” attributed in the Gary Milan/Hank Risan controversy and as later reported as the weight of a separate lead falcon owned by actor, William Conrad, purportedly given to him by studio chief, Jack Warner.
However, the Falcon in the film could easily be one of the six “plaster falcons” mentioned as being made and possibly used in the original film.
Here are two back-to-back clips from the original, both showing different views of the falcon(s) used in the film. You can weigh-in (pun intended) and judge for yourself. See which you think they might be. Are they a five-pound plaster or a forty-five-pound lead sculpture?
Snapshot of my own “Black Bird” which I bought a few years ago. Fortunately, I got my replica for under the stated, “4.1 Million” paying about $40.00 as I recall. Mine is made of Plaster of Paris and weighs approximately 4 pounds.
Murderer & Murdered Meet on Downtown San Francisco’s Bush Street
Here’s the second discovery I came away with in watching Sunday’s screening of the Maltese Falcon. And, I am forced to say that it is an exception to Harry Bosch’s “In murder investigations there are no coincidences.” Well, here’s one:
View the below short fifteen-second clip which shows the actual San Francisco murder location of Sam Spade’s partner, Miles Archer’s.
Miles Archer Murder Clip (15secs)
Here are some stills of the murder location shown in the film.
Maltese Falcon Filming Locations
Got it? Archer was gunned down in downtown San Francisco at Bush Street and Stockton. A brass plaque has since been set in cement nearby to immortalize the fictional crime location.
In 1990, Dr. George Hill Hodel and his wife, June relocated from Asia and moved into their penthouse suite in downtown San Francisco. The address? 333 Bush Street West, just 995’ East of from where Huston filmed the Archer murder.
Coincidence, certainly. But, how bizarre that Los Angeles’ (Black Dahlia Avenger) and San Francisco’s (Zodiac) who was one and the same man and both cities most infamous serial killer, would, in his old age, relocate and live for a decade not only in the same city, but on the same street, just a block away.
The brass plaque embedded in the cement at Stockton and Bush Streets reads, “On approximately this spot Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnnessy.”
Photos below depict George and June Hodels residence at 333 Bush St. West
They lived here for nine years until my father committed suicide by taking an overdose of pills (Seconal) at age 91 in his 39th-floor suite.
My mother, John Huston and my father and I, all circa the mid-1940s just a few years after the making of The Maltese Falcon in 1941.
Fred Sexton circa 1947
John Huston and Edward G. Robinson owned Fred Sexton artwork on display at Los Angeles’ Perls Galleries, just months prior to the release of The Maltese Falcon.
Seconol overdose? I thought he was considering that but didn’t go through with it. Congestive heart failure took care of that. When did you determine that?
Notes about the weight of the bird: It obviously has some heft in those clips – especially when it is laid on the table. It looks heavy, but surely not 46 pounds worth, (that’s more than 2 bowling balls in one unit.) Bogey is likely acting a bit when he carries it.
Been awhile since I saw the movie. What is the falcon supposed to be made of, and what’s wrong with the statue Greenstreet tests? How much should the statue weigh?
The first attempt was going to be in Oct 1998, but his heart condition improved and he scuttled the “mission” along with his notes “Conversation with June” which he put in his desk, and would not be found by June until after his death. But, then by May 1999 his condition worsened, and he reinitiated Plan A, before he had a stroke and would become unable to take his life. He had written the R/X over the previous year for June and had amassed enough pills for a lethal dose. During that same time period both had asked me my opinion of Euthanasia. He was suffering from a lot of pain from his osteoporosis and decided just to end it at age 91.
In the Vanity Fair article, they discuss the different statues and one maintains it was his 47-pound statue that was used in the film. My point is that the bird(s) handled in the film are just not that heavy. More like 5 pounds than 50.
Hey Steve, 47 pounds would be a lot to man handle or woman handle around like they did in the movie. I think it’s more likely 5 pounds or so. To walk around and place here and there the equivalent of a 50 pound sack of dog food or something just doesn’t seem workable to me when you’re playing parts in a movie. I could always be wrong. Say did you know that YouTube has deleted or taken down your video on your opening blog page, “Beyond the Black Dahlia” ? I was saddened to see they had done this as I wanted to watch that video again.
See link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92rr6c-ZVn8
That is kinda spooky…Saw the film in the theater down here in Culver City today and it seemed to me that the statue weighed more than the 5 pounders described in the VF article. Certainly not 45 pounds, but they did look like they had some heft. The mystery continues, I guess…