Posts Tagged ‘Dashiell Hammett’

Thin-Man-Dashiell Hammett

The Return of the Thin Man

Noirtastic news Crimeziners! Dashiell  Hammett reaches out from beyond the grave and offers us a final installment of The Thin Man.

As most will agree Dashiell Hammett  elevated the crime genre to the status of true literature, and The Thin Man was Hammett’s last—and most successful—novel, so Crimezine is very excited to reveal that Hammett actually wrote not one, but two sequels, that will be published under the title, The Return of the Thin Man.

Following the enormous success of The Thin Man movie in 1934, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, Hammett was commissioned to write stories for additional films. He wrote two full-length novellas, for the films that became “After the Thin Man” and “Another Thin Man”. Neither of these stories have been previously published, in book form, although a fanzine did reveal a brief snatch of the story 25 years ago.

Heaven help us Crimeziners, first it was James M. Cain reaching out from beyond the crypt with The Cocktail Waitress, now we find Hammett returning in ghostly fashion. Whatever next? A revelation from the posthumous if somewhat whiskey drenched Chandler estate perhaps? There has to be a golf addled lawyer, or a scarlet septugenarian secreting a browning Chandler M/S  defiantly in the  bottom of a Marlowesque fliling cabinet, somewhere—we just know it!

Until that glorious, if somewhat inevitable revelation comes Crimeziners, we will have to content ourselves with the news that there is a Johnny Depp/Rob Marshall movie remake of The Thin Man heading our way very soon. You heard it here first Crimeziners!

The Return of the Thin Man will be published November 6, 2012.

Noir city X Crimezine Eddie Muller

Crimezine chum Eddie Muller

Czar of Noir Eddie Muller, organizer of  Noir City X, can be seen above working out the final details to his latest novel inside Dashiell Hammett’s  San Francisco appartment. Six films, either written by Hammett, or based on his writings will be shown at the festival including the Famous Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey  Bogart.

The 10th San Francisco Film Noir Festival is happening Jan. 20-29. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco. Opening night double feature, Jan. 20 is Dark Passage, and The House on Telegraph Hill.

The festival hosts an  evening with Angie Dickinson, who will appear in person, Jan. 21.  Movies screened will be: The Killers and Point Blank. The closing day Jan. 29. features six Dashiell Hammett films. Noir City Passports, are good for all the festivals Castro Theatre events, they cost a very reasonable $120. Individual double features are $10, except for Angie Dickinson night, which is $15. For complete programming at the Castro Theatre, call (415) 621-6120,

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Black Mask A dame-tastic blast from the Crimezine Past

Black Mask Magazine  was launched in 1920. The magazine more than any other was responsible for turning such crime writers as Dashiell Hammett and  Raymond Chandler into the perennial hardboiled noir favorites that they are today.

Fast forward to the present day and Black Mask is an online resource of old Black Mask material, a place where you can thrill to hardboiled detective fiction of yester-year and wow to the way out retro artwork. Everything is online these days sadly, so no crinkly yellowing pages and smudgy black ink to enjoy. (sob!)

Still, check in to catch up with Black Mask and some other classic crime brands these guys own, such as Mystery Magazine, Dime Detective, and Strange Detective Mysteries. Cool.

For those Crimeziners tippy-tap-tapping away in your smoke filled writers Hell. Black Mask is seeking contributions, but don’t get too excited, they are not paying anything. So if you are a budding Chandler or Hammett, best keep that day job at the Pinkerton Detective agency for now.

Noir city

Noir City

Crimezine loves film noir. The dangerous curves, the dastardly deeds, the six-cylinder send off’s, all wrapped up in a retro morality that is paradoxically alien and yet strangely relevant in these times of moral and financial desperation. Truth is, film noir is so voluptuously alluring it never went away and we have the likes of Noir City and it’s valiant band of followers to thank for this.

Noir City in association with the Film Noir Foundation organize an annual Film Noir festival, they also organise events, film screenings and publish the awesomely retro Noir City e-zine that features some of the best covers you will see this side of a hot lovin’ forties/fifties newsstand. A small subscription also brings you the Noir City Sentinel, who’s editorial ethos is: No stocks, No sports, All noir all the time.

Noir mastermind Eddie Muller is the brains behind this enterprise, along with a dedicated band of noir fiends, who keep alive all that is noir. The latest event is The 10th Noir City film festival. The photoshoot for the festival poster was held at the apartment where Dashiell Hammett wrote Red Harvest, The Dain

Curse and The Maltese Falcon. The apartment at 891 Post Street SanFrancisco is the model for Sam Spade’s digs in the novels. Hammett’s pad has been lovingly preserved by noir fiends in it’s original state. So Crimeziners if you want three fingers of bourbon and a glimpse of stocking top, settle down at the Noir City hearth side,  for a while and soak up vintage noir, in all it’s hot lovin’ glory.

The Noir City Film noir festival kicks off December 13 at the Castro Theatre SanFrancisco.

Dashiell Hammett,

Maltese Falcon in Black Mask

If you ask James Ellroy who the big swinging cheese in the world of the hardboiled detective story is, he will tell you in no uncertain terms that  Dashiell Hammett is the man. Hammet has been called , one of the finest mystery writers of all time.  His work has been and still is, influential to writers of hard hitting detective fiction. In a similar way to his accolyte Raymond Chandler, Hammett has much to thank Humphrey Bogart for. In Hammet’s case it was Bogart’s legendary portrayal of Detective Sam Spade in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon. A genre defining performance, that became  a cultural reference point when thinking of  the world of the private eye.

Hammett wrote a lot of short fiction for pulp magazines like Black Mask, but only  five books: Red Harvest (1929), The Dain Curse (1929) The Maltese Falcon(1930) The Glass Key (1931) and The Thin Man (1934) A paltry legacy when you consider the positively prolific output, some would say too prolific, of certain modern writers.

One has to remember however that Hammett worked for the world famous, Pinkerton Detective Agency where he got much of his material for his later books. He then got wrapped up in World War two and then got embroiled in in the McCarthyist anti-communist brouhaha of the post war years, ultimately landing in jail, because of his political views. Hammet also had other hobbies besides communist sympathy, namely drinking and smoking himself to death,  which he succeeded in doing in 1961, with the aid of tuberculosis. Had there been more time, there would almost certainly have been more books. But the tragedy of early death often makes legends greater. Hammett is a legend and through his work that legend lives on.


How original a writer Hammett really was, it isn’t easy to decide now, even if it mattered. He was one of a group, the only one who achieved critical recognition, but not the only one who wrote or tried to write realistic mystery fiction. All literary movements are like this; some one individual is picked out to represent the whole movement; he is usually the culmination of the movement. Hammett was the ace performer, but there is nothing in his work that is not implicit in the early novels and short stories of Hemingway. Yet for all I know, Hemingway may have learned something from Hammett, as well as from writers like Dreiser, Ring Lardner, Carl Sandburg, Sherwood Anderson and himself. A rather revolutionary debunking of both the language and material of fiction had been going on for some time. It probably started in poetry; almost everything does. You can take it clear back to Walt Whitman, if you like. But Hammett applied it to the detective story, and this, because of its heavy crust of English gentility and American pseudo- gentility, was pretty hard to get moving. I doubt that Hammett had any deliberate artistic aims whatever; he was trying to make a living by writing something he had first hand information about. He made some of it up; all writers do; but it had a basis in fact; it was made up out of real things. The only reality the English detection writers knew was the conversational accent of Surbiton and Bognor Regis. If they wrote about dukes and Venetian vases, they knew no more about them out of their own experience than the well-heeled Hollywood character knows about the French Modernists that hang in his Bel-Air château or the semi-antique Chippendale-cum-cobbler’s bench that he uses for a coffee table. Hammett took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley; it doesn’t have to stay there forever, but it was a good idea to begin by getting as far as possible from Emily Post’s idea of how a well-bred debutante gnaws a chicken wing. He wrote at first (and almost to the end) for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street.

Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought duelling pistols, curare, and tropical fish. He put these people down on paper as they are, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes. He had style, but his audience didn’t know it, because it was in a language not supposed to be capable of such refinements. They thought they were getting a good meaty melodrama written in the kind of lingo they imagined they spoke themselves. It was, in a sense, but it was much more. All language begins with speech, and the speech of common men at that, but when it develops to the point of becoming a literary medium it only looks like speech. Hammett’s style at its worst was almost as formalized as a page of Marius the Epicurean; at its best it could say almost anything. I believe this style, which does not belong to Hammett or to anybody, but is the American language (and not even exclusively that any more), can say things he did not know how to say or feel the need of saying. In his hands it had no overtones, left no echo, evoked no image beyond a distant hill. He is said to have lacked heart, yet the story he thought most of himself is the record of a man’s devotion to a friend. He was spare, frugal, hardboiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before.

The above passages are extracts from Raymond Chandler’s 1950 essay The simple art of Murder. The essay can be found in full at