Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Dashiell Hammett
here’s the intro to Dashiell Hammett‘s wiki:
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, a screenplay writer, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).
In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on film, Hammett “is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time” and was called, in his obituary in The New York Times, “the dean of the… ‘hard-boiled’ school of detective fiction.” Time magazine included Hammett’s 1929 novel Red Harvest on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.
Hammett wrote his stories with the knowledge he had gained as a Pinkerton Detective himself. Just as with Agatha Christie, Hammett was able to create some memorable characters in Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, and The Continental Op.
I don’t think it is too much hyperbole to state that to a large extent, Hammett perfected the “hard-boiled” genre of mystery writing. Again from wiki:
The term comes from a process of hardening of an egg; to be hardboiled is to be comparatively tough. The hardboiled detective — originated by Daly’s Terry Mack and Race Williams and epitomized by Hammett’s Sam Spade and Chandler’s Philip Marlowe — not only solves mysteries, like his “softer” counterparts, the protagonist confronts violence on a regular basis leading to the burnout and the cynical (so-called “tough”) attitude towards one own’s emotions.
While Hammett did write some screenplays over his career, it looks like others wrote the screenplays for his better known books made into films. While most people think of the Bogart version of The Maltese Falcon, there was an earlier version from 1931 as well. William Powell and Myrna Loy starred as Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man as well as in 5 sequels. Only the first was from an actual Hammett book. Both books have been adapted multiple times over the years and into radio and other mediums. Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk played Nick and Nora on TV for a couple of seasons in the ’50s
And because I can:
Photo from cliff1066™ licensed under Creative Commons