The Maltese Falcon: Scratched, not broken
My first experience that suggested the possibility of an alternative timeline or parallel universe occurred several years ago. I was watching The Maltese Falcon, the classic Humphrey Bogart film, on TV.
In the 1941 movie, the characters pursue a falcon statue whose veneer is supposed to conceal precious gems. When the Fat Man scratches the statue with a small knife, he discovers there are no jewels underneath; the falcon is a fake. This climactic scene seemed lame. In a previous viewing of the film many years before, I thought there had been a struggle for the falcon. The statue fell to the floor and broke apart, revealing the absence of the gems.
I came to the conclusion that two versions of The Maltese Falcon existed, representing two paths of history. In the universe in which JFK was not assassinated, humanity experienced a nuclear war that destroyed male power, symbolized by the breaking of the falcon, which also represents the sun-god Re. However, in this universe, we experienced a lesser conflict, the Vietnam War, which only "scratched" the authority of men.
The linkage of the falcon to the Vietnam War can be found in the history of the Ford Falcon. The compact car, made from 1960 to 1970, wasn't memorable for performance or refinement. Nevertheless, the car racked up sales of over half a million in the first year; over a million were sold by the end of the second year.
Ford executive Robert McNamara is widely credited with being the "father" of the Falcon. McNamara left Ford to become the U.S. Defense Secretary who presided over the Vietnam War. Like the Ford Falcon, the Vietnam War enjoyed acceptance for several years before falling out of favor. The tenacity of the Viet Cong and the anti-war movement would clip McNamara’s wings over the world. And the youthful, rebellious Ford Mustang would eclipse the conventional Falcon.
Image The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros., fair use