I’ve always enjoyed the concept of the “MacGuffin,” which is a story element – some “thing” that’s used to propel the narrative – that we never get to actually see. Modern audiences are probably most familiar with it from Quentin Tarentino’s “Pulp Fiction”, but it’s a concept that has been in use for ages. And it was probably made most famous by Dashiell Hammett’s classic Maltese Falcon. I’ve never actually seen the film version of this story, but even so it’s impossible to visualize Sam Spade as anyone other than Humphrey Bogart. For this edition of Popdose Conceptual Theater I tried to hew closely to the spirit of the music from the region in which the book was set (San Francisco) and the period in which the book was published and became popular (the late thirties and early forties).

Jack will be back in two weeks with the next edition of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Popdose Conceptual Theater – The Maltese Falcon


“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” – Paul Simon

Miss Wonderly arrives with a case for Spade.

“Murder Was the Case” – Rick Mims Band

Spade’s partner Archer is murdered on a foggy night.

“The Other Woman” – Caro Emerald

We learn of Spade’s affair with Iva, his former partner’s wife.

“Criminal” – Fiona Apple

Miss Wonderly confesses her true name and “true” motive for enlisting Spade’s services.

“Cairo” – Santo & Johnny

The Levantine pays a visit to Spade’s offices.

“This Town Ain’t Big Enough” – Prom Queen

O’Shaughnessey and Cairo encounter each other and things almost careen out of control.

“I Know What You’re Up To” – Willoughby

O’Shaughnessey spends the night, Spade knows better than to trust her entirely.

“The Fat Man” – Terry Gibbs

Spade meets Mr. Gutman, the mastermind of the theft of the Maltese Falcon.

“Midnight Shift” – Buddy Holly

O’Shaughnessey mysteriously dissapears.

“On Treasure Island” – Kenny Baker

Gutman recounts the history of the Maltese Falcon.

“The Big Sleep” – Trevor Sewell

Someone slips Spade a mickey.

“La Paloma” – Artie Shaw Orchestra

The courier ship of the Maltese Falcon has arrived.

“Loose Lips Sink Ships” – Ava Takes a Walk

Spade refuses to divulge information about his clients to the District Attorney.

“Golden Bullet” – Count Basie

A series of gunshots deposits a treasure directly into Spade’s lap.

“Goodnight Sweetheart” – Fats Domino

Gutman drugs his own daughter, who fights through it to deliver Spade a message.

“The Fall Guy” – Stephen Godsall

Spade, Gutman, and Cairo plot to pin all of the crimes on the kid.

“Not the Lovin’ Kind” – Nancy Sinatra

Brigid’s last effort to manipulate Sam Spade fails.

“Last Dance” – Colin Ranger Smith

The last few pieces fall into place.