Humphrey Bogart

Films on Friday

The weather has been definitively wonky of late.  One day it's 70 degrees, the next it's 40. There's been snow, rain, sunshine. It's also flu season. We here at the American Treasure Tour think you're best off just calling out of work.  If you don't have any actual signs of illness, then come to the American Treasure Tour Thursday through Sunday (oh, right. Did we mention we're open on Sundays now? Noon to 4pm. Come by and check in!). But if you're starting to feel a little icky, then just head directly to your local pharmacy. Get some medicine, get lots of chocolate, and pack it in. It's movie time!

Maltese Falcon.jpg

We recommend a classic noir for today - The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart in one of his finest roles. This John Huston-directed crime drama was released in 1941, with Bogart as the famous gumshoe Sam Spade, and Mary Astor as his client who seems to know a little more than she's letting on. Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet both add a criminal element, as they search for an elusive "black figure of a bird." This is the famous Maltese falcon their looking for, a legendary statue made of gold. Will they find the falcon? Will the bad guys get what's coming to them - once it's figured out who the actual bad guys are? (not so clear cut in a film like this)? You'll just have to watch the movie to get your answer.  And please, don't confuse the "Maltese" falcon with the "Millennium" Falcon. This is not a spaceship, ladies and gentlemen.

The Maltese Falcon

True story. An event was held at the American Treasure Tour this past December - an employer thanking their staff for a successful year. An extremely nice selection of food and beverages was catered for the event, and a scavenger hunt was provided for everyone in attendance. Groups of three to five had to locate ten different items in the collection and capture an image of the team members posing in front of it. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun and truly enjoy themselves.

I was stationed near the entrance to the Toy Box to be available to assist anyone with questions, or for whatever reason - except I wasn't supposed to offer clues regarding the scavenger hunt. So, one of the items members of the groups needed to take a picture of was a poster for the 1941 movie The Maltese Falcon.  For the record, I am not so old as to have been alive when The Maltese Falcon was in theaters, but I have seen the film. It's a classic and deserves to be seen:  Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre - a film noir in the finest sense of the phrase. I happened to be standing near the poster as people came by on their search.

More than once, I heard a person tell their compatriots that they believed it was the name of one of the Star Trek films. I didn't have an opportunity to ask the folks who were a little confused why they thought The Maltese Falcon might be science fiction, but I was curious. And perhaps a little amused. The notion of William Shatner, or even Patrick Stewart, playing detective Sam Spade, wearing Bogart's iconic trench coat, seemed very funny to me. Guilty confession, when I realized that these people had no idea about the film, I began standing next to it, intentionally trying to draw their attention to the film. 

So. If you think The Maltese Falcon is science fiction, I encourage you to watch it. If, however, you know it for what it is - a highly engaging film noir - but you haven't seen it, I encourage you to watch it. Truth be told, even if you know what it is and you HAVE seen it, it bears repeat viewing. It's one of the greats. And there's a poster of it displayed in our Toy Box. Not too far from posters for a few science fiction films. 

Humphrey Bogart Montage - March 26, 2014

Bogart Montage.jpg

The last thing we at the American Treasure Tour want is for our visitors to miss anything.  Any. Thing.  And, with forty million objects on display (give or take over thirty-nine million), we recognize the challenge ahead of you. So we hope to provide advance knowledge before you take our tour - a chance to know where to look for cool stuff.  The image to your right looks a little crazy, and we know it is too small to do it justice, but it is actually really cool.  It is a montage of posters for movies that Humphrey Bogart starred in during his long career, all printed on mirrored glass.  When you enter the Toy Box, it is going to be directly to your left, hanging quietly on the wall next to two other pieces of mirror art (stay tuned for them!).

Bogart was born on Christmas Day, 1899 and led a rather quiet life until he joined the navy during World War I.  After that, his acting career started modestly, first on stage, then in small roles on film.  His breakthrough happened with 1936's The Petrified Forest, in which he played a ruthless gangster so successfully that it took five years before he was able to come into his own. He became the leading man in such films as High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon (both in 1941). Bogart featured in seventy-five films before his untimely death from cancer at the age of 57, and many of those movies are represented in the framed art in the Toy Box, so don't forget to check it out next time you're here!

Question:

Humphrey Bogart was married four times.  Who was not one of his wives?

a)  Helen Menken

b)  Mayo Methot

c)  Lauren Bacall

d)  Mary Martin

e)  Mary Philips

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

A new word entered the English language today in 1812.  It was created in honor of the then-current Governor of Massachusetts and founding father Elbridge Gerry, after he approved a controversial law that allowed for the redistribution of voting districts in the Boston area.  His critics said that the shape of the "new" district looked like a salamander, hence the word gerrymander.  (Oddly, the governor's name is pronounced with a hard "G" sound, while the new word uses a soft "J" sound.  Don't try to understand the English language!)  Gerrymandering has been a popular method of ensuring votes for centuries now - guaranteeing a majority vote for the political party in power to secure a lead in the redistributed voting sector. It's kinda sorta legal, but some might not consider it especially honorable, so we doubt Gerry was too excited to be connected with this act. 

This was a bad day in 1911, New York City.  A truly bad day.  146 people died, including 123 women - many of them little more than teenagers.  They were employed at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory right off of Washington Square in Manhattan.  It was a sweatshop that paid little money for long hours of work to a mostly-immigrant staff who lived in nearby tenements.  Not long before, some of the self-same young women had been striking with other women in the attempt to improve their work conditions.  It worked for some of the protestors, but not for the Triangle staff, and they returned to work with  little hope for better conditions.  Then, the fire happened.  All it took was a spark, and the dry fabric burned quickly.  Then, it was discovered that emergency exits had been locked by the owners to prevent the workers from sneaking away early, and that the fire escapes were neglected and rotting.  It was, as we said, a very bad day.  

BIRTHDAYS:

The ATT blog is happy to recognize the birth of one of our lesser-known Founding Fathers:  William Blount.  Born on this day in 1749 in North Carolina, he represented his state as a paymaster during the American Revolution.  His ambitions lay west of the Appalachian Mountains, though, in what was then referred to as the Southwest Territory. He served as the territory's only governor prior to Tennessee's admission to the US as a state, and then he was elected to the Senate as one of its first representatives.  But Blount's ambitions got the better of him.  Land speculation found him in financial trouble and he tried to create a secret alliance with Great Britain to seize Spanish-controlled Louisiana Territory.  His scheme was uncovered in 1797, when he got into a different kind of trouble.  He faced impeachment in the Senate, but his death in 1800 saved him from a messy trial.  And you said history was boring!

Today must be Tennessee day, because we are going to celebrate another birthday connected to the state: that of Tennessee Williams!  Born in Mississippi (of course!) in 1911, Thomas Lanier Williams adopted his famous nickname because that's where his ancestors lived before they moved into Mississippi.  Williams' family had its troubles.  His father was a chronic alcoholic, his mother insisted on living beyond their means, and his favorite sister was treated for schizophrenia with a poorly-executed lobotomy.  It gave him a lot of fodder for his stories, though, and he wrote many, including the incredibly popular A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, and Suddenly, Last Summer. We have only scratched the surface of Williams' literary accomplishments, though, and recommend you delve deeper into his works on your own. We can't promise you will be smiling through it all, but we do expect you will be very impressed.

QUOTE:

We have to distrust each other.  It is our only defense against betrayal. - Tennessee Williams

Answer:  d)  Mary Martin.