The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon

That’s all I wanted on the first line. If you don’t know, now you know. Definitely watch this one before listening.

Housekeeping stuff:

Yes, I didn’t mention Arthur Edeson at all. I mentioned the cinematography but the cinematographer went unacknowledged. The fact of the matter is that, at the time of this writing, which is actually the time before the recording because I’m sick again but in new and different ways, but I know I’m not going to mention him because, to be honest, he needs an episode for himself. And I will aspire to do that. But I need to get watching because he’s worked on a bunch of movies. Just the fact that he worked on this and Casablanca makes him an All Star but when you look at his filmography–wow. But it looked like I had more than enough to talk about this episode so instead of getting into all that I’m going to defer talking about him until I can do so in another episode.

I was going to prepare some images. I guess I should do that now. And in the process I wanted to use a cool Photoshop 3D arrow (I’ve used the 3D stuff in Photoshop before and it was pretty cool). I got alerted that the 3D stuff was going away because of Technology and now I can’t see anything from the file that I’d spent some time already working on. I don’t have the constitution for this right now. Should have been using Paint 3D, amirite?

Ok, I just had to close it and open it twice. No big deal, right? One down, and ?? to go. I’ll see what tier of Photoshop I can undertake.

Oh! Fun fact. That poster image that I have up there is the one from the Blu-ray. The Blu-ray also has several radio adaptations of the Maltese Falcon with the stars of the movie themselves. Very cool. The original movie posters (or original-looking at any rate) where a bit boosted. One has Bogart holding two guns like he’s going to use them. Hilarious.

One thing I don’t think I’m going to mention is just how gross Sam Spade is with women in the 1931 movie. I told you it was definitely hornier and it was. He had something obvious going on with Effie, and then with Wonderly, and with Iva, and who knows who else. But the Effie one really got me. She’s just there working and it’s all touchy and feely. Yikes. In the 1941 movie Effie is his wingman and I’d like to think that she just knows better. Give her credit. She’s young but she isn’t an idiot and doesn’t confuse Spade’s attention with a relationship.

I used the AI colorization from Adobe to color in that frame. I really do think the AI colorization is 100% on the money and they did, indeed, wear makeup to make them look better in black and white. I shot exclusively black and white photographs for a few years and life is a little different when you see it that way. I mean it could be off–a pink shirt on Humphrey Bogart might not have flown too far in 1941 but whatever. Probably don’t watch that version. The makeup is unnerving. Just a quick search and yes, their makeup was unusual. These images are decently large, btw. Feel free to zoom in. If you’re reading this in your podcatcher, well, I suggest a larger screen for the images. I realize that I used several types of arrows. I apologize for that. Just trying out which ones felt right. Turns out it was none of them, a little bit. And that 3D arrow was such a pain in the ass. Why that shade of blue? It’s calming. I’m sure you’ve seen it before.

This is what I mean when I say that it was basically a screenplay. It’s told with the “vision” of the detective–a common trope–but even then it’s told with an “audience” in mind. The narrator is not omniscient and that naturally lends itself to screenplays due to the point of view by which the story is told. We are “shown”, not “told”. And we know exactly what we would need to know but we are latched on to that main character. There is absolutely zero reason why we shouldn’t have known what was said on the other end of that phone call with Sam Spade if we were “seeing it through his eyes”. We aren’t–we’re following him so skillfully that neither he nor anyone else knows we’re there. This is also a Library of America Hammett book with all the novels. The pages are paper thin but whatever. It’s the books and you can read them.

I flubbed the phonofilm explanation–it’s a sound on disc system. I probably flubbed some other things. That Willie Mays Hayes reference is from Major League if you didn’t pick that up. If you haven’t seen Major League… well you should. The Soundman. I had a lawnmower coming up on the recording during this part and I couldn’t postpone so I needed to work some magic on it. That’s why it sounds a little different for a bit. This story is so good and so wild.

I also really hope people 1. like the orchestra hit joke and 2. get that it’s a joke. I don’t take myself that seriously but I just didn’t have another transition to work with.

Again, super hoping that you saw the movie before you listened but also before you even read this. The book, compared to the movie, leaves much less to the imagination. I don’t know that it’s better or worse–just different. In the book some of the questions that I posed are just straight up explained. And perhaps they were explained in the movie as well and I just missed the forest for the trees–that happens to me, too. But O’Shaughnessy basically, yes, did exactly hire Spade and Archer exactly to get got by Thursby. She improvised and shot Miles with Thursby’s gun and that was a frame up–she was trying to keep Thursby on ice at least until La Paloma came in to port. The other thing about the book is that it had a couple of red herrings that didn’t amount to anything. The dangling storyline of Iva not being home long before Effie showed up was, honestly, better left hanging. It didn’t amount to anything. There was also a thing with Miles’ brother and we don’t even see him. It’s meant to gum up the works but, in a movie, you can’t fuck around too much. A lot more latitude for that in a book.

Also, due to various issues (mostly health), I had precious little time to record and edit this. No time for pickups. I’m positive that I said some incorrect things and I apologize but you probably know what I meant.

I left out a lot about the personal lives of the actors. I touched on Bogart’s a little bit up until the point of The Falcon but there was more to it than that. Like how, Bogart meets Lauren Bacall who is like 20 years younger than he is (and also a knockout) and they get married. That’s controversial. But by all accounts that I’ve seen it was a happy marriage. No return of the “Battling Bogarts” from his previous relationships.

Mary Astor was going through a lot on her own. There was a significant sex scandal attached to her name and things like that were not easy to get through in those days. Honestly, it seems pretty cruel and unfortunate so it’s not necessarily worth reading about but understand that this was a big movie for her.

I deleted twitter from my phone but if you send me a message or @ me I may get the email and reinstall it. Why, you ask? Just tired of it. Tired of the “a lot of people like this but it’s actually bad and they are bad too” takes. I normally missed those but I’ve been on my phone a lot more since I’ve been less mobile and it just got to me. I did have a lot of fun putting this episode together and I got some really cool music from Cloud Road Music but life, uh, finds a way to mess me up. They were really hip to the idea and got back to me right away. Good times.

Be nice to people. Keep your eyes open for people co-opting what you work for and what you believe in. Stay safe.

Cast A Deadly Spell

Yeah, the way this movie was advertised is a bit different from how I took it. That happens. This is a detective x magic crossover event that might get you your fill of both (or not!) and it’s called “Cast A Deadly Spell”. My DVD copy is “Hechizo Letal” as it’s in Spanish. I realize now that I didn’t do a great job at relating this to Halloween (as it’s actually release on the 31st of October as opposed to November 1st or, as I have so hackishly declared, Noirvember 1st).

At the time of this writing I’m actually really sick and coughing out a lung or sleeping most of the day. It’s not COVID, thankfully. I did need to record this in various sessions (re-record it at that–I could have nailed it the first time but I figured all I had to lose was time, ironically enough, and it is irony because I’m considering it from the point of an omniscient narrator with knowledge of the future but choosing to not intervene or change the events). But that means there is zero latitude to record pickups or just do it over for the third time. So there is some errata and missing pieces.

“Mulholland Drive”, the David Lynch picture, came out in 2001. I got “Mulholland Drive” vibes from “Witch Hunt”. I wonder if he caught “Witch Hunt” (1994) at some point and it rattled around in his brain–there were two Lynch alums in it so it’s quite possible. “Lost Highway” didn’t come out until 1997, so my timeline of these movies is wrong, by the way. I don’t know if I stated a timeline in the podcast but the way I was thinking about it was a little backwards. “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” had already come out so the aesthetic was there but the main points of my Lynch influence had not taken shape just yet. That’s a wild fact check for my dumb ass.

I misquoted Lovecraft in this movie. He says “show it some water.. but be discreet”. Whoops.

I didn’t talk about the music in “Cast A Deadly Spell” at all. It actually won an Emmy. A Primetime Emmy. For this song: It was also nominated for sound editing. That’s pretty rad. Curt Sobel did the music on this movie and it was good. I liked it. He’s also done a ton of other work. His most recent credit was for “Rumble” and I was very much hoping that it was a movie about Link Wray & His Wray Men but it was not. Disappointing.

Here’s the link to a live stream from Sound Speeds Allen Williams about the IATSE stuff. He’s also got a ton of sound capture stuff on his channel which is super useful or super interesting–depending on how you approach it.

I know that I talked about “Yojimbo” being an adaptation of Red Harvest but Kurosawa went on record as saying it was actually The Glass Key. I haven’t read The Glass Key (just yet) but it lines up pretty good with Red Harvest so…. shrug. I probably also got the timetable wrong there, too.

The advertising material paints it as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” but with witches and zombies and that’s honestly not a connection I would have made. I really overlooked that completely, but I also really like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” quite a lot… it’s just the shoe scene. Wow the shoe scene really messed me up.

H. P. Lovecraft was a bit of a weirdo but I did learn, coincidentally, between the recording and the publishing of this episode that his father was committed and died in an asylum which what might have been late-stage syphilis. His mother was also committed at one point and died shortly thereafter. Lovecraft, himself, was plagued with mental health issues for most of his life and I can’t help but think that it’s linked to early tragedy combined with an intelligence that allowed for learning with out the life experience to contextualize information. That’s an incredibly unscientific theory but it feels like it could be true. He also apparently didn’t marry his cousin? I don’t know. It seems that she was a fiction author.

This is a sequence of the inserts on the spell cast at Lovecraft that resulted in the Oatmeal Demon It’s different in every insert as if it was alive or teeming with magic and challenging what we think of as “reality”.

I did finish watching “Witch Hunt”. I felt compelled. It wasn’t that bad but it also wasn’t that good, either. It lives in the middle. They definitely went for it with CGI that was of dubious effectiveness. There’s also a trans madame in a magic brothel and a really loose analogue of magic use for The Red Scare which is really just cover for homosexuality or non-cishet or nontraditional (and I know that traditions vary wildly from what we think they are so I mean puritanical American traditions–I took a class on sexuality in college. I’m hip. I’m cool. That was like 15 years ago. I’m so old) sexuality which was also how HUAC was used in blackballing Communists and homosexuals in Hollywood. We do see a very young Clifton Collins Jr. at the brothel which is located in the Millard House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house that has shown up in more than a couple of things–most lately that I can remember it’s in Westworld (which might have an entire season that I haven’t seen yet–yikes). I started to feel better about the plot and the mystery but then, after a little bit, I didn’t? Does that make sense. Maybe it was illness and medication. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. Doesn’t change my opinion of the movie. I also found out the name of the other theater in the Hollywood hills (or in the hills at least, not sure what exactly defines the “Hollywood” hills)–it’s The Ford. I’ve been to the Hollywood Bowl and that was actually really cool. I think, in the animated movie “Sing”, when their theater collapses (spoiler) the stage they end up on is an homage to The Ford but I could be wrong.

Ward is wearing a really cool Hamilton watch, though. Hamilton Watch Company is an American company that got swallowed up by Swatch in 1969 and now, I guess, they are Swiss. But sir, ve are Sviss! ….them too! God bless Eurotrip. I went looking for and and, with the help of Bandrew Scott I found it to be a Piping Rock. That’s a 1928 model, however, those were seemingly all gold. Watchcastage sleuth Bandrew then found that there was a reissue of the 1928 Yankees World Series version which is pretty cool.

This is the Hamilton Piping Rock reissue. I’m actually pretty into it and they aren’t really all that expensive on the used market but they do need some TLC. I don’t think that’s something I want to invest in. The clock strikes midnight.

Check out the very fun podcast Boars, Gore, and Swords. Red Scott also has another podcast that I listen to called Failure to Adapt which is a good time if you read books and watch book movies. I talk good and stuff.

Neil Gaiman’s A Study In Emerald as a PDF exclusive on his website. I was unable to find the link that leads to the PDF at the moment (and it may have been lost in the website redesign shuffle) but the standard rights apply–don’t resell or reproduce this story it’s Neil’s property, etc. There is a graphic novel that is available if you want to support the author. Support local booksellers if you can. There’s also a board game which is, roughly, a deck builder.

Check out Austin Grossman‘s work. Soon I Will Be Invincible is where I jumped on that train and I haven’t jumped off. He’s also a game designer and the list of games he’s worked on include System Shock, Deus Ex, and Dishonored which are very much my shit.

I think a really good representation of Lovecraft’s work–but in a visual medium–is Polish painter, photographer, and sculptor Zdzisław Beksiński. Apparently his style is characterized as “dystopian surrealism” and holy shit is this Lovecraftian. Zdzislaw Beksinski – 707 artworks – painting (

gabe on Twitter: “don’t want to go through whatever Zdzisław Beksiński went through” / Twitter