Stoler and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade: A Comparison

You can sort of see his face on this old cover illustration...


A close reading of the actual text of The Maltese Falcon leads to the conclusion that Stoler, at least when he put on his blond wig, captured the look of the San Francisco detective, more than Humphrey Bogart or the other people at the 75th-anniversary-of-publication-costume-contest.

Chapter I - "Spade and Archer"

See all the V's?"Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down-- from high flat temples--in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan."

Am I really like a bear, or do I just identify with them?"He was quite six feet tall. The steep rounded slope of his shoulders made his body seem almost conical--no broader than it was thick--and kept his freshly pressed grey coat from fitting very well."

Chapter II - "Death in the Fog"

"The smooth thickness of his arms, legs, and body, the sag of his big rounded shoulders, made his body like a bear's."

"He put on a thin white union-suit, grey socks, black garters, and dark brown shoes...He put on a green-striped white shirt, a soft white collar, a green necktie, the grey suit he had worn that day, a loose tweed overcoat, and a dark grey hat."

And by the way...

This is not the actual bird, just a's something about the actual one.

I'm keeping the bird, you're taking the fall.

The alleyway near Bush and Stockton Streets in San Francisco, where Miles Archer was killed (oh, that's in the first chapter, so it's no spoiler -- but don't look too closely or it WILL give away the end.)

Man, I love the idea of memorials to things that didn't actually happen

And Stoler got mentioned on Don Herron's famous blog about Hammett's San Francisco!

It wasn't the first time Stoler had dressed as a character played by Humphrey Bogart...

Of all the gin joints in all the towns...

Want to read the whole book online? Try this link.

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