Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Hooker in a Hangman’s Noose?

Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon; courtesy of Warner Brothers

Vacationing in Search of a Lost Film Treasure


Taken from the AP News Wire (3:08 am CST)
Dateline: Matamoras, Mexico

                                                MRF (dictating to a half-breed AP Stringer)

Saludos film nerds from a creaky border town foot bridge where a blindfolded Poppa H and his merry band of tippling outlaws, the Texas Groovers, are about to be hanged without trial by the Mexican authorities unless we hand over the bundle* - i.e. a treasure map to a famed black bird.

According to the unofficial police blotter, we’ve been charged with pruning the hedges of many small villages, raping the horses and making off with the women* but this cinephile knows better. There are no pruned hedges round these parts … and no horses that haven’t already been raped.

For the record, our jam has nothing to do with landscaping and everything to do with The Maltese Falcon and Tom Landry, the former fedora-wearing head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. How did Landry, MRF and his high-school buddies get mixed up in a 500-year old search for the famed Maltese bird? Let me explain before they dump my sexy corpse in the Rio Grande River.

Maltese Falcon Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon; courtesy of Warner Brothers

The Maltese Falcon’s Siren’s Squawk


First, all you Gen-X/Y ninnies who have no idea who or what The Maltese Falcon is, may the ghost of Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart haunt your very soul. Go rent the 1941 John Huston picture and for that matter read Dash Hammett’s classic SF-based crime novel of the same name. For all ya’ll who haven’t time for your cinematic education, here’s the setup:

In 1539, the Knights Templar 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 (during transport) pirates seized the galley carrying the priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day …* 

Sounds like a juicy morsel doesn’t’ it? No??  You’d rather be playing Halo 3?! You do suck. The mystery certainly was a siren’s song for Dash, Bogey (as detective Sam Spade), Peter Lorre and a portlified Sidney Greenstreet who set off on a greedy search of San Francisco for the lost treasure way back when.

But Here’s Where The Plot Turns …

According to a 1969 article in Texas Monthly, Tom Landry, the head coach of the Cowboys from 1960-1988 was obsessed with the legend of The Maltese Falcon. Why? On the eve before a 1968 home game (ironically versus the Atlanta Falcons), Coach Landry found a mysterious treasure map inserted in his playbook, sent to him by one of his x-players (quarterback Dandy Don Meredith) who retired early from the gridiron to go on a lifelong quest for the priceless Falcon.

Maltese Falcon
The famed black bird

A huge fan of the book and the movie, Coach Landry promptly sewed the map into the lining of his famous fedora and disappeared for 12 days. Where did he go? Local legend has it, he recruited a young naval officer named Roger Staubach to navigate the coach down the Rio Grande, deep into the Heart of Mexican Darkness to locate the bird and the lost quarterback. Landry and Staubach never found the bird (or Dandy Don for that matter) but the map remained secretly sewn into his fedora until Coach Landry’s passing a few years ago ...

Tom Landry
Fedora-clad Tom Landry

Tom Landry’s Fedora Available On eBay

This is where the Groovers come in …  After a fortnight of debauchery on the Ranch, the boys and me capriciously decided to cash in their 401(k)s to buy Tom Landry’s Fedora off eBay. After an overnight FedEx delivery, we magically found the treasure map still in the lining of the great man’s lid! So, in the drop of a 10-gallon hat, we packed up the Groover Wagon Train to run roughshod into the night to fulfill Landry’s destiny.

After an arduous journey, the map led us to a Matamoras Donkey Show where the bundle was supposed to be buried under the main stage. Problem was one of the Groovers (Skipper) drank so much mescal, he projectile vomited on the donkey and the owner of the cantina, who happened to be the Chief of Matamoras Police … So much for finally “growing up” and having a “normal” high school reunion, here we are with our necks in a noose (again). As for Coach’s fedora, we lost it shooting dice with four cabbies and a skinny dog named Fidel who kept throwing boxcars till the break of dawn. Curse that bastard canine’s wicked luck! 

Is this the end of the road for Poppa H and the Groovers?  Who knows but this sure ain’t the stuff dreams are made of.*  Tell Momma I love her and remember, no matter what the badges tell ya, be bad and get into trouble baby …* MRF

Last Rights Western Picks to Click
•    Skipper – Once Upon a Time in the West
•    Hawk – Hang Em High
•    Hondeaux – The Wild Bunch
•    Captain – The Searchers
•    MRF – Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Happenings Round Town
•    Lust, Caution (2007) Dir. Lee – Embarcadero
•    The Darjeeling Limited (2007) Dir. Anderson - Embarcadero
•    Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007) Dir. Brown - Embarcadero
•    2 Days in Paris (2007) Dir. Delpy – Embarcadero
•    The King of California (2007) Dir. Cahill – Embarcadero

Volume 34 Footnotes*
•    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater doing his best Nicholson impersonation to a monacle-lovin’ Winona Ryder
•    “Hand over the bundle.” –  The Maltese Falcon (1941): Bogart as San Francisco detective Sam Spade to his quivering Girl Friday.
•    “We pruned the hedges of many small villages.” – The Three Amigos (1985): Chevy Chase to a non-plussed Mexican bandit named El Guapo.
•    “El Guapo, do you remember the time when we raped the horses and making off with the women?” – The Three Amigos (1985):  El Guapo’s dim sidekick waxes nostalgic to the man himself.
•    In 1539, the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from the 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…* –  The Maltese Falcon (1941): The film’s opening scroll sets up the chase for the elusive bird
•    “It’s the stuff dreams are made of.” – The Maltese Falcon (1941): Bogey clutching the bird squawks into the phone to a copper.
•    “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.