How about this. On Burritt street in San Francisco is a plaque which will only mean something  to fans of The Maltese Falcon, commemorating as it does the spot where  Miles Archer was ‘Done In’ by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.
No Spoiler Alert here!  
Mary Astor did the deed, killing Jerome Cowan.

The Falcon’s writer, Dashiell Hammett, lived in San Francisco for most of the 1920s, and wrote several novels during that time. He referenced a lot of San Francisco locations in The Maltese Falcon, including the spot where Sam Spade’s partner met his demise.

In 1974, a group of Hammett enthusiasts had the plaque put on display, a few blocks from where Hammett lived at 891 Post Street.

Sam Spade’s apartment in the book/film is modelled on Hammett’s .


The second plaque, outside 891 Post St.  where Dashiell Hammett lived.

Dashiell Hammett

Hammett expert, Don Herron, has since 1977 done the Dashiell Hammett walking tour.  He can be contacted at

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) was described as “the dean of the hard boiled school of detective fiction.”  He served in both world wars, suffered from the 1918 flu epidemic, worked for Pinkerton’s Detective Agency, and wrote short stories for crime  magazines plus The  Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key and The Thin Man (which was his final novel in 1934.)

He suffered from ill health for most of his life but was very active politically and served time in prison after refusing to cooperate with the Communist investigations of the late 1940s.


Walter Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Lee Patrick, John  Huston.

A nice touch, Walter Huston  delivers the Falcon to Sam Spade.





Always considered the best film version, John Huston directed Humphrey Bogart In the tale of the mysterious black bird which was a golden Falcon encrusted with jewels and painted black to conceal its value.
One of two known cast lead statuettes made for the 1941 film sold for $4 million at Bonhams Auction House in 2013.

Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) said, “I am prepared to pay $5,000 for the figure’s return.”

The prologue of the film:

“In 1534, the Knight Templars  of Malta paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a golden falcon encrusted  from beak to claw with the rarest jewels…….

But pirates seized the galley carrying the priceless token, and the fate of the  Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day……….”

And so begins the classic movie.
John Huston‘s directorial debut;

61 year old Sydney Greenstreet’s film debut;

Humphrey Bogart’s second film of 1941 ( after High Sierra)  and the year in which he transitioned from playing supporting gangster roles into becoming a major star;
And a great  cast – Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jerome Cowan, Gladys George, Lee Patrick, Ward Bond, Barton McClane.

7 responses »

  1. One of those movies where everything just seemed to come right, from the casting to the writer/director who knew that the best bet was to stick as closely as possible to Hammett’s novel.

    • I agree and it so interesting that we have the previous two versions of the story to compare it with. Third time lucky did the trick for the Hammett book.
      Would love to visit all the movie locations in San Francisco.

  2. What a great plaque. How did I not know about this?

    BTW, the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon is very good in its own right. Maybe not a bona fide classic, but lots of fun nevertheless.

  3. Vienna, good write-up and neat pictures. The plaque is a really good idea for all the fans out there, whether it be for the novel, movies, or both. Along with the image of the cowboy, the hard-boiled private eye is a symbol the USA around the world.

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