Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Falcon Theft a Publicity Stunt?

In an earlier post, I relayed a story from the San Francisco Chronicle that the signed reproduction of the Maltese Falcon at John's Grill--the place where Sam Spade orders chops in the book--had been stolen.

Now I'm hearing speculation from a variety of sources that the theft was a publicity stunt by the owner of the restaurant. The two main pieces of evidence cited:
  1. No sign of forced entry and no damage to the cabinet where the falcon and other stolen items were stored, suggesting an "inside job."
  2. The reproduction in question is not the falcon that appeared in the movie, which was made of lead and was supposedly dropped by Bogart on his toe during filming. It's a plaster version that was used for publicity stills and wasn't really worth that much, even with Elisha Cook's signature ... the point being that it's unlikely anyone would think it worth the risk to steal it.
Read more on the Chronicle's NWZCHIK blog entry on the topic.

Turns there have been other fictional detectives who've eaten at John's. Here's a line from my first novel, The Immortal Game, mentioning the place:
I invited her to come to a gig I had that evening and we ended by going to lunch at John’s Grill on Ellis Street, where Jodie impressed the hell out of Rupert, the maitre d’, who had never seen a rubber dress before.
And here's the description of Jodie and her rubber dress that appears earlier in the chapter:
She wore a short white dress made of neoprene rubber. It fit like a milk bath. A silver-colored zipper with a large pull ring ran down the middle. Zipped as far as the tensile strength of the rubber would permit, it still exposed enough to certify her member in good standing, D-cup Delegation. Two more zippers for pockets were installed above her hips, on the off chance she wanted to tote around a dime or a postage stamp.

She wore matching white pumps, dangling silver earrings, and a silver Egyptian ankh on a chain around her neck. If she were wearing anything else, I’d have needed a CAT scan or a strip search to find it.
Finally, here's the photograph that was included at the front of the chapter in the first edition.


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