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June 6, 2024 39 mins

How did this tiny, strategically crucial archipelago change the course of World War II? Join Ben, Noel and Max as they explore the deep -- at times, ridiculous -- history of Malta in the guys' continuing exploration of microstates.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Ridiculous Histories, a production of iHeartRadio. Welcome back to the show,

Ridiculous Historians. Thank you, as always so much for tuning in.
Let's hear it from the man the myth Legend, mister
Max Williams. Hello, Hello, Hello, sir, I am Ben Bullen.
That's mister Noel Brown here as well. It is time, gentlemen,
for us to explore once again micro nations or micro states.

Noel off Air, Max and I were talking a bit
about this concept. I have an old professor who's been
off the grid for some time who wrote to me
and said hey, and I hadn't heard from for years.
He said, Hey, there's a difference between a micro nation
and a micro state.

Speaker 2 (01:13):
What's the difference.

Speaker 1 (01:14):
The difference is international recognition. So a micro state is
recognized by other countries and international bodies. A micro nation
may not have the same international credibility, so that's a difference.

Speaker 2 (01:33):
Got it, Got it? Well, you know I mentioned off
Air as well. In the original, well not the original,
but the first Tim Burton Batman movie, there's a scene
where Vicky Vale is at a party at Bruce Wayne's house,
walking around with her buddy from the newspaper looking at
his like Bruce Wayne's collection of artifacts from around the world,

and there's like this, you know, kind of tribal outfit
that's on display, and he says something about the wicker Man,
and then Bruce Wayne shows up and says, yeah, I
like it. I bought it, and he points out to
Vicky Vale that he enjoyed her photojournalism from the Quarto Maltese.
And for the longest time I thought this had something

to do with the micro nation of Malta, but in fact,
upon a curstory Google, the Quarto Maltese is a fictional
South American country that exists exclusively within the DC Extended Universe,
so no connection at all. But that word Maltese is
what's used to describe things relating to the culture of Malta.

Speaker 1 (02:41):
Yes, yeah, exactly. That's our exploration today. We are talking
about Malta. This is also an episode for our pal
Josh Clark, who a few years ago travel to Malta
the country and from everything he told me, just had

a wonderful, wonderful time. We're going to learn some more
about this because it's a very old place. It has
some of the oldest megalithic sites in the world. This
is from the CIA World Factbook, which we have a
copy of here. I'm doing prop comedy now and of it.

Speaker 2 (03:23):
So it's coming back. It's coming back in a big way.

Speaker 1 (03:26):
Shout out, care top find him in Vegas. So Malta's islands,
because of their location, they've always been a strategic military possession.
They've been under the control of various civilizations throughout human history. Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines,

the Normans, Sicilians, various specific orders of chivalry, the Knights
of Saint John, and most recently they've been a British colony.
But they gained their independence in nineteen sixty four and
in nineteen seventy four they declared themselves a republic. So

while it has ancient history, the modern version is relatively new.
I don't know, you know. Let's say we get into
the we get into the nuts and bolts of Malta's
origin story with some help from our research associate, mister
Max Williams Oh.

Speaker 2 (04:29):
Mister Max. Malta, which exists south of Sicily, north of
Tripoli and Libya, has been around for, as you said, Ben,
quite some time. How do we know this well. It
has some of the most extensive World Heritage sites known.

According to our pals over at Britannica, the earliest archaeological
remains in malt said date back from about five thousand BCE.
Neolithic farmers lived in caves a lot like those at
the Agar Delam near Birzobuga, or villages like Scorba, which
is near Zebiegi. They are wonderful words that I'm probably

butchering the pronunciations I've been doing my very best. They
sound weirdly scientological. We've cut Zebug and Zemziza and yeah,
fun fun stuff to try to say. But they produced
pottery similar to that of contemporary Eastern Sicily. A very

elaborate religious order, dare we say a cult of the
dead worshiping of ancestors evolved around four thousand BCE. Initially
we saw some rock cut tombs that culminated in the
unique underground burial chambers at Hal softly Any in power

oh La, known locally as Rahal Jadid very batmany like
racial ghoul kind of vibes, which was designated by UNESCO
as a World Heritage Site in nineteen eighty.

Speaker 1 (06:13):
M Yeah, we know this culture. This ancient culture you
just described came to a sudden screeching halt max if
we could get a screeching halt perfect. Around two thousand
BCE it was replaced with what we call the Tarxian
cemetery culture. We know about this civilization because they practice

certain burial rights and they used metal. The best guess
the historians have today is an interloper showed up to
someone changed the way the culture went. And that makes
sense because if you're looking at the ancient world as
you describe, bit north of Libya, bit south of Sicily,

right there at the crossroads between the African and European continents,
Malta is a liminal space for a lot of communities
and cultures, and around the eighth and sixth centuries BCE
it had involvement with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, you know, trade war,

the Classics, all the good slow jazz. We don't know
to what degree these things had a lasting impact on
what we will call Malta today because the Romans came in.

Speaker 2 (07:33):
Oh as they do, they tend to sweep in and
also change things as they do in their image. During
the first two centuries of Roman occupation. These islands were
allowed to mint their own currency, also send their own
delegates to Rome, and have some nominal control of their

own domestic politics policies. They're domestic affairs. They were given
the status of what's called a Roman municipium, which I
suppose is equivalent to what we consider a municipality today.
Saint Paul the Apostle actually got shipwrecked in Malta in
sixty CE, and he's believed to have converted the local

folks to Christianity. There were these collectives that practiced this
underground burial that dated back to the fourth end to
the eighth century CE, that represented some of the first
archaeological evidence of this Christian belief flourishing there in Malta.

Speaker 1 (08:36):
Yeah, and as we know spoiler alert, the Roman Empire
didn't last forever. It's current iteration.

Speaker 2 (08:46):
I was really betting on them just being around.

Speaker 1 (08:49):
All right, we'll call the bookie, see if you can
change it. Yeah, that's possible, get locked in. And we said.
There was this long chain of different controlling cultures over
the geographical space of Malta, which is to date, by
the way, the smallest country officially in the European Union.
But in fifteen thirty there was still a vestige of

the Roman Empire of old, the Holy Roman Empire. The
emperor thereof Charles the fifth seated Malta and gave it
over to an order of knights in Order of Chivalry,
the Knights of Rhodes. And they were, you know, they
were high muckety MUCKs with the Roman Catholic Church, and

they turned Malta into a fortress.

Speaker 3 (09:37):
And you just jump in here. These Knights of Roads
were looking for a new place to live because they
were not in Roads anymore.

Speaker 1 (09:43):
Yes, they had gotten the boot from Rhodes in Greece
at some point.

Speaker 2 (09:48):
Yeah, and I believe the Colossus of Rhodes is a
statue there in Greece erected in honor of the sun
god Helos. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (09:57):
And they were right to build this fortress because the
Ottoman Empire was a big thing. And in fifteen sixty
five the Ottomans, which we'll talk about in a future episode.
The Ottomans attempted to take the fortress and land against
strategically valuable land of Malta, but they got fought off.

The Knights of Rhodes withstood the siege. This founded a
pattern because just ten years later the capital city, Valletta,
which was named after the grand Master of the Knights Roads,
it became a town of It became a town that
was super nice once you got past the walls, but

it was very much a gated community.

Speaker 3 (10:45):
We could call it just to jump in here and
be a little silly. We were talking about Civilization six
before the recording. Today, because I'm always some video games,
Valletta is my favorite city state to be suzerain of.
I will say that right now.

Speaker 1 (10:59):
I don't like this the city states. I feel like
they overly complicate the game.

Speaker 3 (11:03):
They can, it's sometimes it's just like you know, also,
especially we're playing against ais as, easy to win them all.
But like the cool thing they do in SIV six
is each city state that you are Susan enough, you
get a special ability, and Valletta's you can buy stuff
in your city center and encampments with religion, which is like, okay,
that's a that's elite.

Speaker 1 (11:24):
And it depends upon the predisposition of the city states,
right some want you to have science, some want you
to have more city states, creating a feedback loop, et cetera,
et cetera, and it's based on real world situations, just
like what we're describing with Malta. Because these knights are
kind of this happened.

Speaker 2 (11:45):
A lot in Europe.

Speaker 1 (11:46):
They were aristocratic at this point. They considered themselves above
the common people, and they didn't have a lot of
social contact with the actual residents of Malta who had
been living there for centuries and centuries, or their families
had they lived and died like normal people.

Speaker 2 (12:08):
Became quite a resplendent place, didn't it. The capital city
of Valletta, with magnificent palaces right and opulence on display
all around.

Speaker 1 (12:23):
And the knights did leave despite their elitist nature, they
did leave the island this tremendous architectural, artistic legacy. If
we fast forward, we see that people still recognize the
geopolitical importance of Malta. In seventeen ninety eight, there's a

guy in the French army. His name is Napoleon Bonaparte.
He is perhaps most famous for being kind of a
pill about ice cream in the documentary adventures Bill and
Ted's Excellent Adventures. Anyway, this guy seventeen ninety eight, he
captures the island of Malta, but he's not able to

hold it for a long time. Just a few years later,
the middle of eighteen hundred or so, British troops are
called in to assist the Maltese people, who say, why
is this French guy in charge of us? The French
hold out for three months. They eventually surrender the islands

and it's not until I mean, the British don't hold
it that long either. The Treaty of Amends returns the
island to the Knights of Rhodes in eighteen oh two.
The Maltese say, look, treaties aside. We want to be
our own government. We are the Maltese, we have lived here.

Get rid of these rich people that you said are
in charge of us. And then Britain said.

Speaker 2 (13:51):
No, that's right. And Malta's political system under the Bridge
went through some significant evolution let's call them. They were
granted constitutions which were then suspended and or revoked, and
they were the victims of some significant exploitation at the
hands of the Brits. That doesn't sound right. The Brits

wouldn't do that, would they.

Speaker 1 (14:15):
Have you ever been to a town in the United
States where the primary employer is a military base, I
sure have. That's what happened to Malta. That was the
same thing. The economy became dependent upon the British dockyard.
The British run military facilities on the island, where the

spine of the local the local job sources. Basically, it's
similar again to when a military base opens in a
small town here in the US or in any number
of other countries, if we're being honest. Malta has this
huge impact in various conflicts across the span of European history,

the Crimean War, the First World War. We also see
that when the Suez Canal opens in eighteen sixty nine,
they get into commerce in a big way because Malta
becomes an easy shipping point or transit point, a hub
for trade. Then, and we shall also say Malta is

technically an archipelago, it's a collection of island, it's not
a single island. Then it becomes a huge deal in
World War Two. It's still a British colony at this point,
and so the British are using it as a foothold
in the Mediterranean. And Hitler is super peeved about that.

Adolf Hitler, Oh yeah, guys, They're just a specify, real alarmists,
real reactionary type of cat hot take. And I've said
this on other shows. I don't think he was a
good dude.

Speaker 2 (15:58):
Not a good guy. No man. Hitler showed absolutely no
quota to Malta, and it was. It became one of
the most intensely bombed places in the entire war, more
than some much larger and more maybe militarily significant cities

like Coventry. Coventry got its own blitz Blitz named after it.

Speaker 1 (16:30):
Right, Yes, this episode brought to you by the Tourism
Board of Coventry.

Speaker 4 (16:38):
We still exist post blitz.

Speaker 1 (16:40):
Post blitz Coventry. The population of Malta at this point
it's only about two hundred and seventy thousand people, which
is a lot of people for a concert, but not
a lot of people for a country. And Malta also
hosts a bunch of airfields, or multiple airfields, and it's

the only British harbor between Gibraltar and Egypt. It also
helps become a place to disrupt the supply convoys of
the Axis powers, who at this time are still trying
to bring Northern Africa into their sphere of influence. I'm
thinking about Ethiopia and Italy for instance, and of course

several notable historical figures involved in that. The first attack
that Malta hits is June eleventh, nineteen forty and if
you fast forward a year nineteen forty one, the German
Luftwaffe arrive in Sicily and the attacks turn up to eleven.

Just like that amp on a spinal tap.

Speaker 2 (17:51):
It's one louder, it's one louder.

Speaker 1 (17:53):
Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (17:55):
Then during nineteen forty one and forty two we have
more than three thousand air raids going down. In the
first six months of forty two there was only a
single twenty four hour period sans air raids. The folks
living there were forced to once again go underground, kind
of joining the legacy of their predecessors.

Speaker 1 (18:16):
Right like that ben Folds five song Brick Underground Ground.

Speaker 2 (18:24):
There's no brick drowning slowly. What does that even mean?
Ben Folds five is a pretty great music. Oh yeah, no,
we're very great, bad, fabulous musician. Dear friend of the
show and friend personally both of us. Jordan Runta has
a key from one of ben folds pianos framed on
his wall in his apartment.

Speaker 1 (18:46):
Congratulations, Jordan, we should have him on the show too.
He's got some great ideas, great pitches, Jordan. That is
not necessarily Ben Folds. But Ben, if you're listening, come
on down. You know what I mean. We're basically the
post s Blitz Coventry of podcasts.

Speaker 2 (19:03):
In the.

Speaker 1 (19:06):
Case of this subterranean survival, we see that it was necessary,
but it led to a very high blood price. A
lot of people had health problems. Being squeezed into this
environment without proper hygiene led to an epidemic of typhoid.

One thousand, four hundred and ninety three civilians died. North
of three thousand people were wounded. Children had at the worst,
probably the elderly as well. That's how war works the
most vulnerable in the population. Thankfully, German military turns out
not super great at a lot of things, and thank

goodness for that. They also underestimated how difficult it would
be to acquire and control Malta. They thought they had
the people whooped and they moved move their aircraft. Because
they were already in a dwindling resource space. They moved
their aircraft to other initiatives and this gave the British

military the window that they needed to bring new planes
to Malta to defend this location and also to resupply
the people and their own military. So raids, decrease defenses,
improve A convoy travels from Alexandria Egypt and they bring

food to the people of Malta who were riddled with typhoid.
You know, many are starving or in what we would
call a food insecurity situation. If those planes, those supplies
and that sustenance had not arrived, Malta probably would have
gone to the Germans and the Lufwaffa would have controlled it.

German supply lines would have moved in, and the future
of North Africa in World War two would have been
markedly different.

Speaker 2 (21:02):
Can I just say that the phrase and bombs fell
on Malta seems like a great name for like a
heavy emo band.

Speaker 1 (21:10):
Or like a Phoenix song.

Speaker 2 (21:12):
Yeah, absolutely, Like, oh going do I'm want to see
Phoenix a couple of days. I'm so excited in Spain
they're playing the first night or the first to opening
day of prima Vera Sound and they're one of my
favorite bands in the whole wide world. So the Luftwaffa
did realize they had aired and unfortunately for the Germans,
fortunately for Malta, Malta caught a reup on their supplies

and along with Allied victories in North Africa, Malta did
not fall and according to ciay dot gov, the people
of Malta had just a quote. People of Malta had
shown extreme bravery in the face of severe threat and hardship.
To acknowledge such bravery, King George the sixth made a
gesture unique in history. On fifteen April nineteen forty two,

he awarded the George Craws to the Maltese nation, an
honor still born by the Maltese, on their flag. It's
a big, big deal.

Speaker 1 (22:07):
It makes sense for the vexillologists in the crowd that
they would have this on their flag. The George Cross
is the highest award the British government can give to
anyone for bravery, not in the direct presence of an enemy.
They call it gallantry. So they said, Malta, you are

a gallant people, and they said we're fixing up the.

Speaker 2 (22:32):
Flag well again, once again in line with their history
of chivalry, right and nightly orders.

Speaker 1 (22:41):
After World War Two, Malta, which is still a British colony.
While all this is going down, they start getting a
dare I say, American yearning for independence and autonomy. It's
nineteen forty seven where they get again like our vicissitudes,
we're talking about our changeable, ephemeral status here. Malta becomes

a self governing body in forty seven, but that gets
revoked in nineteen fifty nine. Just three years later, they
get self government governance again in nineteen sixty two. It's
not until September of nineteen sixty four, September twenty first
that Malta becomes independent. It becomes a member of the Commonwealth,

and then it becomes a member of the Council of Europe.
It's not until like nineteen seventy nine that Britain or
the United Kingdom fully removes all of their forces. They're
finally they're getting out of Malta and they close down
their base. The Maltese government marks this as their genuine

independence after thousands of years, to be clear, and they
become a republic on December thirteenth, nineteen seventy four. In
case who want to call off work, folks just say like,
I can't come in today. It's Maltese Independence Day, and
you can pick like two or three of those dates.

Speaker 2 (24:07):
Yeah, no one will call you on that. No one
will check you on that. They don't know about your
heritage or your history, or your allegiances, you know, or
your family crest a bank.

Speaker 4 (24:15):
Can I have December thirteenth office year?

Speaker 1 (24:17):
Yeah, it's Multese Independence Day?

Speaker 2 (24:19):
You guys, you you know if you guys are, of
course familiar with the malted confection known as whoppers. Yeah,
I'm getting some nods. Okay, we got some? Yeah, you got,
you got, you got, you got.

Speaker 4 (24:31):
Put on favorite candy.

Speaker 2 (24:33):
It's a good candy, and occasionally you'll get one that's
sort of chewy. I like it when you find an
occasional chewy one. But there is a whoppers equivalent, you
guys know what, They're called Maltesers.

Speaker 1 (24:44):
Malteser, that's right there in Europe, that's right. Also, Max,
your dad's still an absolute madman for cereal, right.

Speaker 2 (24:52):
Grape nuts? You love grape nuts.

Speaker 4 (24:54):
Alex is a grape nuts fan too.

Speaker 1 (24:55):
Which is Alex Williams. Who could post our.

Speaker 4 (24:58):
Try Alex and my dad are very thick.

Speaker 1 (25:00):
Did they puts in the cereal?

Speaker 3 (25:02):
They probably what I mean, yeah, my dad is you
know whoppers necho wayfirst candy corn. I think he's just
a contrarian. I think my contrarian ism.

Speaker 2 (25:12):
Do grape nuts even snap? Crackle and or pop?

Speaker 4 (25:15):
Did you snap your teeth?

Speaker 2 (25:17):
They just kind of sit there getting softy. This episode
brought to you by Coventry and grape nuts.

Speaker 4 (25:23):
Which we already have a headpiece on. Grape nuts, which
we already do.

Speaker 2 (25:26):
Tis either a grape nor a nut. It's its own thing,
grape nuts.

Speaker 4 (25:31):
They titled it that just to make it sounded go
is healthy.

Speaker 2 (25:34):
Sure, Yeah, I don't get it.

Speaker 4 (25:35):
Yeah, listen to our sterial episode.

Speaker 1 (25:38):
Yeah, please do. Uh this country. If we learn about
the geography of Malta, it's always been the same for
human civilization, which is still kind of a fad. Malta is,
as we mentioned earlier, not a single island. It is
instead a chain of islands and archipelago one of my
favorite words in this language. Uh. The islands are five.

There's Malta the largest one, there's Gozo, Camino, and then
there are two you know additional like also rands. They
are largely uninhabited or not permanently inhabited by a sizable population.
Those are Kiminette or Cominoto and phil Fla fild Fla,

which sounds like an Italian word for something you know,
for like lint, right, like belly button lint.

Speaker 2 (26:33):
It also sounds like an Ikea product for like a
like a hand towel or something. Yeah, the fild Fla.
It's roughly fifty eight miles south of a Sicily and
one hundred and eighty miles north of Libya. As we
mentioned earlier, Valletta, you know of of Ciev six Fame
is the capital and it is located on the northeast

coast of Malta. But Malta has a number of even
larger cities, like Zibar and previously referred to Zibug with
some very interesting accent marks over both the Z and
the G. It's like a little dot. I'm not even
sure what that one implies in terms of how you're
supposed to say the letters.

Speaker 1 (27:17):
Yeah, those are tricky diacritics. It's also Mediterranean typically the climate,
and I guess we should mention those cities are big
for Malta, but that's much that's much smaller than your
average city in most other countries. Mediterranean climate means the
summers are hot and dry, the autumn is or the

falls gonna be warm. It's gonna maybe rain in the fall.
The winters are pretty short given their location along the
equator urban relation to the Equator, the winters are cool,
not a ton of snow, but it does have it
does rain. It's usually between like the fifth D's in
the eighties fahrenheit. For the rest of the world, that's

between twelve degrees celsius up to twenty nine degrees celsius.
That will change, of course, within your lifetime if you
wait a couple of years and you listen to this
episode again tell us about the weather in Malta and
other geographically vulnerable countries. The population is primarily people who

would describe themselves as ethnically Maltese. Their families been there,
They've always been there. There will be parts of the
population who are descended from Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Italians, other Mediterranean peoples.
There are of course, small communities of British nationals, Greeks, Palestinians, Sindes.

There has been a growing influx of modern immigration from
North Africa. Obviously, it's super close the Balkans and then
some sub African countries. Good news if you are an
American traveling to Malta. Shout out Josh Clark. Malta has
two official languages. The first is Maltese and the second

is English, so you can go there in order a whopper.

Speaker 2 (29:18):
So is there a I mean Maltese? Is there a
connection to another language that we're familiar with that might
have some analogs or like, I guess I've never even
thought of Maltese as its own language.

Speaker 1 (29:29):
Yeah, it comes from uh Sicilian Arabic.

Speaker 2 (29:34):
Cool, totally clear. Now, jeez, Louise, I.

Speaker 1 (29:37):
Feel like you asked one question.

Speaker 2 (29:39):
I have four more questions a million. I mean, these
are all just remixes in the in the Internet of
the Game of Telephone, that is language. But I'm sorry
Arabic Sicilian, medieval media, gotcha, cat attack.

Speaker 1 (29:56):
Yeah, we'll keep it in. Doctor Venkman has some opinion.
It's on Malta. So we also know that this is
a micronation episode. It's a micro state episode. So let's

go back to our palace of Britannica. Knowel how big
is Malta?

Speaker 2 (30:23):
Pretty big for a micronation, right, According to Britannica. The
total area is one hundred and twenty two square miles,
with the population of a little more than half a
million souls. Land mass is seven hundred and seventeen point
sixty five times bigger than Vatican City. Again we're talking
about orders of tiny magnitude. One hundred and fifty two

point five times bigger than Monaco, which we know is tiny,
five point one times bigger than San Marino, and about
twice as big as good old Liechtenstein. So this really
is the kind of big brother of micronations, or at
least of these. So before you lest you go thinking
that this is some sort of massive country, it is

in fact fifty nine square miles smaller than Andorra, which
was our very first episode in this ongoing series on micronations.
And though five hundred and fifty one hundred people call
it home, that is not a lot of folks in
terms of a total population. Let's see, the total population

of the five previous micronations though, comes out to around
one hundred and ninety three thousand, five hundred and fifty
so it's more than two point five times as many
people than all of the previous micronations. But again, compared
to the population of a larger country, it's it's pretty
pretty dwarfed.

Speaker 1 (31:49):
Yeah, and the population for American comparison, of Malta is
smaller than Wyoming, which is famously sparsely populated. Far as
US states go I was doing. I was looking into
this because I remember being surprised at how easy it

is to acquire residency in Malta. Interesting costile living is
surprisingly affordable. We want to hear about your Maltese adventures,
and we thought what better way to end this episode
than talking about some other linguistically or thematically related things.

I think particular to interest to us as animal lovers is,
of course, the Maltese dog breed. So what does that
look like? We know it's acknowledged by the American Kennel Club.

Speaker 2 (32:46):
Yeah, little little lap dog type guys introduced by Malta
to the Phoenicians who ruled the Mediterranean before that rise
of Greece that we talked about. There are some historical
theories as to what les to the breeding of the
Maltese dog. Some set the Maltese's birthplace anywhere from Egypt

to the Alps, and a lot of the scholarship from
Malta sites Terriers, Spaniels and Spitzes as the antecedent of
the Maltese.

Speaker 1 (33:22):
But then a lot of people well, okay, so we're
pretty sure the Phoenicians brought the ancestors of the Maltese
dog to Malta where it got famous. And you might
be surprised to learn that a lot of canine enthusiasts,
especially Maltese fancias, will say, no, Malta has its own dog,
that's why it's called the Maltese. And a lot of

other dog breeds are based on our island or our
archipelago's original breed. So be very careful when you speak
to the Maltese about canines in general. Just be respectful,
and if they seem cool, the next time you're hanging
out with a Maltese person, if they seem cool, you

can ask them about the infamous Maltese falcon.

Speaker 2 (34:09):
Ah, the Maltese falcon I. Actually watched this film on
a flight not terribly long ago, really really cool noir
film starring Bogie Old Humphrey Bogart. So yeah, let's see.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, writer Andy Lewis at ranks

with the most expensive pieces of movie and TV memorabilia
ever sold at auction. It is also a classic example
of what is known in cinema and in fiction writing
as a mcguffin. It is an object that is the
driver of the action of a film or a piece
of work, but doesn't really have any meaning on its

own a good example. Another good example of that would
be the suitcase in pulp fiction. It's sort of this
thing that everyone's seeking but doesn't really mean anything out
the side of a reason for people to be doing
the things they're doing. But you don't really ever get
a sense of why it exists or the importance of
it outside of it being some sort of valued objects.

Speaker 1 (35:11):
All right, something that compels and propels the plot. We
know that the Falcon statues have been sold in different iterations.
It is one of the most expensive pieces of memorabilia
ever sold at an auction. Check out our earlier episode
on auction houses, and I proposed the portmanteau soln like

stolen and sold because a lot of stuff in museums
at auction houses is sold anyway. The Falcon statue, as
we learn from Andy Lewis writing for Hollywood Reporter, that
was sold went for the price of four million and
eighty five thousand dollars, including an addition of over half

a million dollars. It was one of the two statues
made for the movie Maltese Falcon, but it's the only
one we know was actually on screen. And according to
the auction house that did the sale, the markings on
the statue can be matched to the statue on the
actual film, like in the final cut. And according to

Catherine Williamson, one of the directors at Bottoms, the auction
house in charge, quote, the Maltese Falcon is arguably the
most important movie prop ever. It is central to the
history of cinema. This is also a statement of someone
who makes a lot of money by auctioning the Maltese Falcon.
Just to be clear, and I think this shows us

that there is still a mystery of foot. There is
no proof right now as to whether or not there
is a real Maltese Falcon statue floating out there, or
whether it is one grand game of mcguffin. And thus
we conclude our episode the fascinating, fascinating country of Malta.

I'd love to go there one day. Oh I gotta
mention They've got the fanciest passports too, the Sovereign Order
of Malta.

Speaker 2 (37:18):
What does that mean though? What does that get you?
Is it sort of like one of those diplomatic passes
or I'm a little confused as to what that means.

Speaker 1 (37:26):
Oh, they don't have to pay for anything at Dave and.

Speaker 2 (37:29):
Buster's cool, cool at all and they get the best
odds on the gambling. When once that gets rolled out.

Speaker 1 (37:37):
Right, what's DMB does that? The Sovereign Military Order of
Malta issues a very very small amount of passports. The
issue diplomatic and service passports. The people who get the
diplomatic passports there are only three, the Grand Master, the
Grand Commander, the Grand Chancellor. It's just like it's the

best passport. I just want to have one for collector's purposes.
But that feels bad because if I did have one,
that would mean one of three very important people is
just sort of ass out at the airport. So we
got to think of the greater good. But anyway, this
is our Malta episode, thanks so much to our super

producer mister Max Williams also conducted the research as we
mentioned earlier, for this episode.

Speaker 2 (38:25):
Indeed, Jonathan the Maltese Falcon, Strickland aka the Quizzler, aj Bahamas, Jacobs,
the Puzzler, Eves Jeff Coates here in spirit. Christopher Hasiotis
as well.

Speaker 1 (38:38):
Alex Williams who composed this slap and bop at the
beginning end of every episode. We also want to thank
our pal doctor Rachel Big Spinach Lance who might be
making an appearance. And thanks to you all.

Speaker 2 (38:53):
Let's get on the road, Let's do it. We'll see
you next time, folks. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit
the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to
your favorite shows.

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Ben Bowlin

Noel Brown

Noel Brown

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