Wrap Up Oak Island: Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

DATELINE:  Like a Hunt for the Maltese Falcon


If ever a season of hope was upon Oak Island, the fifth year of the series dig was it. Yet, the curse of the treasure hunt was that hope may be their worst enemy.

As the team of hunters gathered at the end of The Curse of Oak Island for an assessment, we came away yet again with a great respect for 94-year old Dan Blankenship. He cut through all the discoveries and made a simple pronouncement. He felt 90% of what they found was on the surface, not under ground.

He wondered about the expense. Yet, he was also even as he comes around the bend toward a century of life, allured by the mystery of the place where he has spent half his life.

We went around the table at the faces of we have come to know quite well: Dan, the wise elder, to Gary Drayton, our metal detector, to Alex Lagina, the hot young nephew of the expedition leaders, to his bearded cousin—and a couple of historians who lead the scribe element of grand expeditions from Alexander the Great to Lewis & Clark.

Dumb luck was lost to dumb decisions, that made the dive team into a 75-foot shaft disheartening. The wish for a steel plate over a treasure chest is the stuff of dreams. If Oak Island is just another Maltese Falcon, we are satisfied with the adventure of it all.

Will there be another season? You can bet your Nielsen ratings on it.








Black Bird Still Provides Dreams


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We can’t recall the last time we watched The Maltese Falcon, and time has made us grow fonder.

What a brilliant work: cynical, sophisticated, timely, with great performances up and down. We noticed this time that Walter Huston, director John Huston’s father, had an unbilled cameo as a sea captain.

We relished the other scenes that came back to us: Peter Lorre and his phallic cane and gardenia scented calling card. There was no homophobia back then. Kaspar Gutman clearly had more than a father-son relationship with his “gunsel” Elisha Cook, Jr.

Had we forgotten what a romantic cad Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade truly was? He had been sleeping with his partner’s wife and disdained her.

He may have fudged feelings, or used them ruthlessly as part of his job as a detective. His repartee with the Fatman, Sydney Greenstreet, was a delight. And, Huston filled the screen with a wide shot of the Gutman’s gut. You might wonder why Greenstreet’s billing was so low—but it really was his debut as a nemesis for Warner Brothers crime dramas.

Mary Astor’s deadly female was far more nuanced than we had thought, though she could not be believed as Spade realized.

The cops are Barton McLaine and Ward Bond, bad and good, but playing the stereotype with freshness.

As for that Black Bird, his entrance always is hilarious and staggering, unwrapped amid the drooling pursuers.

For decades, detective movies have used this template, but this one is the original—and it seems almost effortless from directing, writing, and performing. What a treat.





Captain Queeg Meets the Maltese Falcon



For the uninitiated landlubber, it’s a yacht. When you own a boat that is over 55 feet in length with a couple of masts, you probably have enough money to hire Billy Budd to do your foretopping, if you like that sort of thing.

Humphrey Bogart spent his hard earned money from films like The Maltese Falcon to buy his yacht, which he kept until his death in 1957. He and Lauren Bacall spent many weekends away from the Hollywood set on their schooner.

It fell into disrepair in recent years, but is now over at a boatyard in Little Rhodie being restored to its former glory at the Portsmouth port.

Bogart called his little ship “Santana,” and seemed to find it “the stuff dreams are made of” far more than that disgusting black bird that Sydney Greenstreet (ergo, The Fat Man) chased all over San Francisco.

Now dubbed “Bogie’s Boat,” the little clipper may yet race at Newport with a new life and new owners.

Of course, our favorite story about Bogart’s boat had to do with his great film The Caine Mutiny. If you don’t recall, you deserve to give yourself a treat and see Humphrey Bogart at his most enthralling.

In that film he played the notorious Captain Queeg, a World War II captain with mental problems (like so many in literature). Herman Wouk’s character was brought to life in ways no one could have predicted by Bogie.

Queeg was more than a little strange. He used to roll ball bearings between his fingers when stress got to him. When he went on the witness stand after his crew declared him a nutcase and took the ship, he broke out those little ball bearings to prove the case.

After the movie was a big hit, Bogart was furious because his old friend Frank Sinatra played a prank of major proportions. He loaded up the ship with silver ball bearings that rolled all over the place with the tide.

No word has emerged yet if the ghost of Bogie and the ghost of Sinatra will be shipping out on the restored yacht.