09 March, 2010

On the Trail of the Maltese Falcon

An author of some note, I can't quite recall who it was, said that there were three great "story" cities in America: New York, New Orleans and San Francisco (I'm not sure why he didn't see fit to include Chicago in this small group, I'd have to squeeze it in there). As for The City, there really is something very romantic about strolling about San Francisco on a foggy night, walking in the steps of so many memorable literary characters. Among the most well-known of characters would have to be those created by Dashiell Hammett. Here, off of Bush Street, is an alley called Burritt. Not very interesting in and of itself, but it is the spot where Sam Spade's partner, Miles Archer met his end at the end of a gun held by the beautiful and very dangerous Brigid O'Shaughnessy in Hammett's Maltese Falcon. It's hard to visualize Miss O'Shaughnessy as looking like anyone other than the great Mary Astor. And just try to get Humphrey Bogart out of you mind when you think of Sam Spade. They all blur together in the fog, on the dark, wet streets of San Francisco.

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