Since, one night in 1930, Angus MacPhail sneaked into one of the big Hollywood Studios where he witnessed a solemn procession of hooded men each carrying a torch and a helium balloon, we know for certain that Hollywood is in the hands of The Secret Society Of The Illuminati. It’s therefore in the light of those torches that Hollywood’s Golden Age movies must be interpreted. “The Maltese Falcon” is a paradigmatic case. Every character is indeed madly in search of such statuette, and yet what they’re really looking for is a guy named Abe Sylowsky with the purpose of either handing him an inheritance or breaking his legs -it’s not clear from the plot, which is too convoluted. Everything is further complicated by the insidious presence of a ‘femme fatale’. This woman, in addition to being a puppeteer who handles the threads of all the characters, is a skilled ventriloquist who imitate their voices, making them say things that continually get them into troubles. So much so that, if they were aware of their puppet condition, each could address this woman and say as Hardy would say to Laurel: “That’s another fine mess you’ve got me into.”

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