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MALTESE FALCON MAKES RETURN FLIGHT

It didn't take blood or money to get the jewel-encrusted Maltese Falcon back this time.

The foot-high, nearly 50-pound lead bird is part of a fund-raiser this week in the city that turned it into a legend of the classic detective story genre and film noir.Instead of being the elusive target of hard-boiled detective Sam Spade, it is on loan from its New York owner to raise money at a benefit for a police officer and a firefighter killed in the line of duty.

The namesake of the Dashiell Hammett novel and subsequent movie starring Humphrey Bogart was being paraded around San Francisco Thursday, visiting old haunts associated with the book and film.

In the classic 1941 movie, a villainous Sydney Greenstreet tells private eye Bogart that there was no limit - in blood or money - to the value of the jewel-encrusted falcon they sought.

The falcon is on loan from diamond merchant Ronald Winston, who purchased it at auction in December for $398,500. It is one of two original falcon props used in the 1941 movie.

The statue will be featured Friday at a fund-raiser to honor the memories of police Officer James Guelff and firefighter Louis Mambretti.

The event will be held at John's Grill, a well-known eatery since 1908 whose most famous meal existed only on paper. In his search, Spade takes time to order "chops, baked potato and sliced tomatoes" at John's.

The falcon, ensconced in the Dashiell Hammett Room, will be protected by Pinkerton guards, a nice touch since Hammett once worked for that agency.

On the tour, the falcon will be taken to the Burritt Street alley where a bronze plaque reads: "On approximately this spot Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was done in by Brigid O'Shaughnessy."