This site is dedicated to all the people like Don Herron, Bill Arney, Richard Layman,
William F. Nolan, Josephine Hammett Marshall, Julie M. Rivett, Steven Marcus, Joe
Gores and others who have kept 1920s San Francisco in the here and now.
Special thanks to Vince Emery for his many helpful contributions to this website.
Rara-Avians traveling to Paris can visit the Hammett exhibit at the Bibliothèque
des Littératures Policières (called BiLiPo for short), the world's only library dedicated
to crime fiction. The exhibit is entitled "Le mystère Hammett, la naissance du roman
noir américain" and it opens on November 5th, and will be curated by Natalie Beunat,
author of the book Dashiell Hammett: Parcours d'une oeuvre, and the translator of
Hammett's letters and much of his fiction into French. Admission is free. And while
you’re in Paris, check out “Dashiell Hammett Evening” to be held at Centre Dunois,
61, rue Dunois, on November 12 at 8:30 PM. On the panel will be the aforementioned
Beunat, critic/ writer Michel Boujut, editor François Guérif, and writer Stéphane
Michaka. Leading the discussion will be Hervé Delouche, president of "813—Les amis
des littératures policières." (Thanks to Vince Emery for these twin tips)
SEPTEMBER 20, 2009:
“Big Read” events featuring The Maltese Falcon continue all over America—far too
many to list individually. Some libraries are even giving away free copies of Hammett’s
novel! (Remember, I said some. Don’t get upset if yours isn’t!)
AUGUST 31, 2009:
For many years, Bill Arney, the current resident of DH’s Post Street apartment, has
opened his home to Don Herron’s Dashiell Hammett Tour, but all of that is coming
to an end. Bill will be moving out at the end of September, and relocating to San
Rafael. In the meantime, Don will be leading a tour every Sunday in September, so
don’t miss the opportunity to see the very rooms where Hammett wrote The Matese
Falcon (and set much of the action, as well!).
AUGUST 11, 2009:
My wife Carla and I recently stayed in the Dashiell Hammett Suite of San Francisco's
Hotel Union Square, and were surprised to find out that the entire hotel (including
the DHS) had been completely remodeled. Click here to see how it looks now.
AUGUST 7, 2009:
Chicago's City Lit Theater Company will be staging Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man,
as adapted by Terry McCabe. Adrianne Cury will direct. The play will run from August
28th to October 11, 2009. Click here for more details.
MAY 3, 2009:
The University of Delaware, Newark Campus, will be presenting The Maltese Falcon
in the form of a radio play on May 5. The event is free and open to the public. (Click
here for more details.) To reserve seats, call (302) 438-7504.
APRIL 30, 2009:
Now available from The Silent Giants: an all-new, really-cool-looking Maltese Falcon
movie poster! (Click here to see it) This in an 18"X24" handmade screenprint, signed
and numbered in a limited edition of 100, and manages to be retro and cutting edge
at the same time. Nice work, people!
APRIL 28, 2009:
Hammett enters the 21st century! Containing sixteen classic short stories, The Dashiell
Hammett Collection is in Kindle format (for those of you who like your books to run
on batteries!). Included are "Afraid of A Gun," "Arson Plus," "Bodies Piled Up,"
"Death on Pine Street," "The Man Who Killed Dan Odams," "Mike Alec or Rufus," "Nightmare
Town," "Night Shots," "One Hour," "The Road Home," "Ruffian's Wife," "Second Story
Angel," "The Assistant Murderer," "The Tenth Clew," "Who Killed Bob Teal?," and "Zigzags
of Treachery." For more details, click here.
I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my friends ands aquaintances in the Hammett
community for the outpouring of support following my recent altercation with a Toyota. Thanks,
APRIL 2, 2009
During the early 1920s, Fatty Arbuckle was the most popular film star in the world--right
up until he was accused of raping a young woman at a wild party in San Francisco's
St Francis Hotel (the woman died soon after). Arbuckle was eventually acquitted
(after no less than three trials), but by then his career as a comedian was shattered. In
Ace Atkin's new novel Devil's Garden, Pinkerton gumshoe Samuel Dashiell Hammett is
the narrator. (Hammett always claimed that he worked on the real-life case.) Ace
will be signing copies at "M is for Mystery" in San Mateo (California), from 7PM
to 8PM tonight.
MARCH 10, 2009:
Leading Hammett authority Richard Layman will discuss The Maltese Falcon, and the
book’s main character Sam Spade at 7PM (this evening) at the Museum of the Cape Fear.
Layman is the curator of the Maltese Falcon exhibit currently on display through
April 5th at the Museum of the Cape Fear in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
MARCH 9, 2009:
Julie Rivett (Hammett's granddaughter), will present three Peoria Reads! programs:
9AM at Illinois Central College's Lecture/Recital Hall, Room 127, on the East Peoria
campus; 2PM at Bradley University's Neumiller Lecture Hall, 1501 W. Bradley Ave.;
7PM at the Peoria Public Library, 107 NE Monroe. All of the programs are free.
MARCH 6, 2009:
Now available at a bookstore near you: after being out of print for nineteen years,
Don Herron's Dashiell Hammett Tour book is back with a new, improved and expanded
edition. Published by Vince Emery Productions, this 214-page volume is jam-packed
with information about all the real-life San Francisco locations that figure into
Hammett's fiction (as well as his real life). This is also the best medium-length
Hammett biography available, and includes a preface by Jo Hammett (DH's daughter),
and even an introduction by the late Charles Willeford. Click here for all the details!
FEBRUARY 14, 2009:
Three-time Edgar Adward winner Joe Gores has finished Spade & Archer, the authorized
prequel to Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. The new novel comes out 79 years to the
day after Falcon. The official kick-off party was held (of course!) at San Francisco's
John's Grill, "Home of the Maltese Falcon." Click here to see pictures, as well
as a quick interview with Mr. Gores himself.
NOVEMBER 9, 2008:
Blackstone Audio has released a new unabridged audio version of The Maltese Falcon,
dramatized by Yuri Rasovsky. The four-disk, five-hour-long set can be ordered online
from Barnes & Noble for $40.00.
The San Francisco Arts Commission has, uh, commissioned artist Owen Smith to create
a series of Hammett-themed posters, depicting scenes from The Maltese Falcon. Smith
designed them to resemble the covers of 1920s pulp magazines, which is, of course,
where Hammett got his start. The posters will be displayed in those large kiosks
along Market Street. As a tie-in, Don Herron will be guiding a special abreviated
version of his Dashiell Hammett walking tour on June 28th. (For details on both
the posters and the tour, click here.)
OCTOBER 11, 2007:
"It's a fake of a fake of a fake," says Jon Konstin, owner of San Francisco's famous
John's Grill, "but people will come from all over the world to see it." He's speaking
of the newly-commissioned replica of the Maltese Falcon to replace the one that was
stolen back in February. The new black bird will be bigger, heavier and meaner-looking
than the original plaster replica of the move prop, and will be kept under video
surveillance. For details and pictures, click here.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2007:
The Players Club of Swarthmore (Pennsylvania) presents The Girl With the Silver Eyes,
a mystery based on the Hammett story of the same name. The show will run until September
29. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $8 for students. Click here for more
AUGUST 10, 2007:
Shane Mawe (who has contibuted so many items to this column that I've run out of
superlatives) reports that the new short story collection Pulp Fiction: the Villains,
edited by Otto Penzler, contains a previously unpublished Hammett story entitled
"Faith", which was found in unedited form long after DH's death!
APRIL 10, 2007:
Another new feature for this website: an exclusive interview with Dr. George J. "Rhino"
Thompson, the college professor-turned-street cop, who is acknowledged (much to his
own surprise) as one of the most influential authorites on the novels of Dashiell
Hammett. Click here to read it.
MARCH 21, 2007:
Am I Wrong, a pop culture website, today features a short quiz on the cast of 1941's
film version of The Maltese Falcon. To see if your knowledge of the Bogart classic
is up to snuff, click here.
FEBRUARY 19, 2007:
Jason Redgewell informs us that the seldom-seen Hammett story "Death and Company"
(admittedly not of his best, but far from bad), was recently included in an anthology
entitled The Oxford Book of Detective Stories, edited by Patricia Craig. This was
DH's final story for Black Mask, as well as the final Continental Op story. For
more details, click here.
FEBRUARY 13, 2007:
Hammett fandom has been dealt a stinging blow: John's Grill, San Francisco's self-proclaimed
Home of the Maltese Falcon, has been burglarized, and its falcon replica and collection
of Hammett books have been stolen. I'd make a joke about issuing an APB for Caper
Gutman, but, frankly, I don't find this all that funny. For more details, click
here. (Thanks to Brian Evankovich for tipping me off.)
FEBRUARY 11, 2007:
The long wait is finally over! After more than a year of keeping his nose to the
grindstone, a completely noseless Vince Emery has released "Rhino" Thompson's landmark
Hammett's Moral Vison in hardback. Long considered the most in-depth analysis of
Hammett's novels, it has never been available in book form until now. I've starting
reading my copy (Thanks, Vince!) and it's pretty cool! For more details, click here.
DECEMBER 8, 2006:
All falcons, all the time: The original 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon (also
known as Dangerous Female) will be presented at the Long Beach (California) School
for Adults auditorium, 3701 E. Willow Street, double-featured with the similarly-titled
The Falcon Takes Over (no connection, other than the word "falcon"). For details,
call (562) 997-8000, ext. 7198.
OCTOBER 7, 2006:
Warner Home Video has just released two new DVD packages that will be of interest
to Hammett fans. First is The Maltese Falcon Three-disc Special Edition, which includes
not only Bogart's 1941 classic, but also the 1931 version (later retitled Dangerous
Female) and 1936's Satan Met a Lady, which was loosely based on Falcon. In addition,
three different audio versions are included (one of which stars Edgar G Robinson!)
and a new documentary. For film buffs who still want more, there's Humphrey Bogart
- The Signature Collection, Vol. 2, which includes everything in the first package,
plus several other Bogart movies.
OCTOBER 4, 2006:
As part of the ongoing Perry Mason Days celebration (see September 7, below), a discussion
panel was formed, consisting of dead mystery writers (portrayed, of course, by living
imposters). For details of this historic gathering, click here.
SEPTEMBER 25, 2006:
Sam Spade isreturning to San Francisco! As part of its grand opening, the new nine-screen
Century Theatres complex will be screening The Maltese Falcon, along with several
other films set in The City by the Bay. This will be all day Thursday, September
28, at the Westfield San Francisco Centre, Fifth and Market. Tickets are only five
SEPTEMBER 7, 2006:
The works of Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason, will be celebrated during
Oroville, California's fourth annual Perry Mason Days. The week-long festivities
will kick off October 1st. Gardner, like Hammett, got his start writing for Black
Mask magazine, before becoming one of the best-selling mystery writers of all time.
For more details, call Pat Koskinen at (530) 538-9196. (Thanks to Beth Culliton
for this item!)
SEPTEMBER 3, 2006:
Jason Redgewell points out that the 1978 TV-movie of The Dain Curse is now available
on DVD, restored to its original six-hour length. A tall, lean, gray-haired James
Coburn stars, looking much more like the Continental Op's creator than the Op himself. For
details, click here. Thanks for the tip, Jason!
AUGUST 22, 2006:
No less than three creators of Hammett-related books will be making public appearances
in the immediate future: On August 28th, the new San Mateo (California) Main Library
will present “Death Can Be Funny: Four Witty Authors Lighten Up the Dark Side,” a
special panel discussion that will include Joe Gores (Edgar-winning author of Hammett),
and Vince Emery (editor of Dashiell Hammett: Lost Stories). The event will kick
off off at 7:00 PM. . . . On the opposite side of the country, Richard Layman,
author of Shadow Man (which was the very first full-length Hammett bio) and editor
of Selected Letters of Dahiell Hammett and Discovering Sam Spade and the Maltese
Falcon will one of the headliners in the highly anticipated “Killer Nashville” (put
on by the Southeast Mystery Writers of America). September 15th and 16th, in Nashville,
AUGUST 10, 2006:
The latest tip from Shane Mawe: Otto Penzler has just released a anthology of pulp
fiction, titled (appropriately enough) Pulp Fiction. Hammett's 1926 short story
"Creeping Siamese" is included, along with yarns by Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley
Gardner, Horace McCoy, Frederick Nebel and many others. The collection is introduced
by Harlen Coben. For details, click here.
JULY 24, 2006:
From the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC Victoria) website: "Did you watch the
ending of The Maltese Falcon and think there was a better way of ending it all than
just 'the beginning of a beautiful friendship'?" Apparently this major news agency
can't tell this difference between Falcon and Casablanca! (For the handful of people
in the world who didn't already know, the last line to Falcon is" "The stuff that
dreams are made of.")
JUNE 27, 2006:
From the Naked Theatre website: "When The Pie Was Opened is a detective thriller
based upon historical events and portrays some of the real characters involved. It
also mirrors an iconic noir movie and what prompted the main character to change
career from detective to writer." If you couldn't make heads or tails of that, don't
feel alone. From what little I could gather, this play is a homage to (or bald-faced
rip-off of) The Maltese Falcon, where the Sam Spade character is Hammett himself. If,
for some reason, you'd like to produce this play, contact Ed Udovick at the Impulse
Playwrights Agency. (Thanks to Shane Mawe for yet another tip!)
JUNE 16, 2006:
This just in from Bellingham, Washington: Tonight at 7:30 PM, the Bellingham Midnight
Mystery Players will perform Hammett's The Thin Man on local radio station KMRE.
The show will be broadcast live, in front of a studio audience, at the American Museum
of Radio and Electricity, 1312 Bay Street.
JUNE 13, 2006:
Three falcons, no waiting: Warner Brothers Home Video has announced the DVD release
of "Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection Volume 2." Of special interest is
the 3-Disc Special Edition of The Maltese Falcon, featuring a newly-remastered edition
of the 1941 masterpiece. Also included is the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon
(later retitled Dangerous Female), as wall as the 1936 film Satan Met a Lady, which
was also based on TMF.
MAY 4, 2006:
Houston's Harry Ransom Center will tonight present well-known Hammett scholar Richard
Layman. His lecture, in observence of Texas Mystery Week, will be entitled "The
Imperious Will: Lillian Hellman and the Estate of Dashiell Hammett." Layman will
dissect the relationship between Hellman and Hammett, particularly her influence
on his literary reputation, and her handling of his literary property. Layman will
also discuss their love story, the literary profession as practiced by Hammett and
Hellman, McCarthyism as it affected them both, and the bizarre history of Hammett's
literary estate. (Thanks to Shane Mawe for this tip!)
APRIL 30, 2006:
On a strictly personal note, my family and I just stayed in the Dashiell Hammett
Suite at San Francisco's Hotel Union Square, and it was incredible. Much thanks
to Yvonne Lembi-Detert, Peter Wong, and the rest of the good folks at Hotel Union
APRIL 11, 2006:
Congratulations in advance to Nicole and Joseph Patrick Hammett, who are expecting
a baby next month. "My husband and I are both very appreciative of the creative
arts, as well as a good political debate," says Nicole, "so we decided to bless our
child with the name Dashiell Hammett." A distant relative of DH, Joseph still has
family in Maryland.
APRIL 8, 2006:
Two new Hammett-influenced movies are in current release. First is Lucky Number
Sleven, starring Bruce Willis. According to Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star, "it's
yet another recycling of the basic quadruple-cross plot of Dashiell Hammett's Red
Harvest — which has already been made, re-made and re-re-made as Akira Kurosawa's
Yojimbo, Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and Walter Hill's Last Man Standing
(also, incidentally, starring Slevin's Bruce Willis)." . . . The second film is
Brick. Says Chris Stephenson of westender.com: "Thirty-two-year-old director Rian
Johnson wowed them at Sundance with this extraordinarily audacious debut feature
that draws on the hard-boiled tropes of a Dashiell Hammett novel (an acknowledged
source) and the taut, smart-assed dialogue of film noir, and then transfers them
to the grittiest milieu currently available in the States: the dark corridors and
twisted relationships you can only find in high school." Adds Robert Denerstein
of the Rocky Mountain News: "You have to be one smart cookie to make a movie that
sets a Dashiell Hammett-style detective yarn within the confines of a California
high school and not get laughed off the screen." Apparently director Johnson has
managed to pull it off.
APRIL 4, 2006:
The Kaneville (Illinois) Public Library will be discussing Hammett's The Maltese
Falcon from 3:00 to 4:00 PM on April 23, 2006. Call (630) 557-2441for details.
MARCH 24, 2006:
The Milford (Massachusetts) Library will host a six part series on crime fiction,
beginning on Saturday, March 25. The discussion series will examine the plots, characters,
and literary construction of six famous mystery novels, including Dashiell Hammett.
The series will be led by noted author and critic Hallie Ephron, co-author of the
Dr. Peter Zak mystery series.
MARCH 19, 2006:
eBay auction # 7015716424 ended today with a winning bid of $82.56. The item up for
grabs was a 1984 hardback edition of The Maltese Falcon, autographed by none other
than actor Elisha Cook Jr, who played Wilmer in the 1941 movie. Cookie's inscription
quoted one of his character's many threats to Sam Spade:
To Grover + Rae Lewis
"Keep on riding me and you're going to be picking iron out of your navel"
Today's San Jose Mercury News features an article about Silicon Valley zillionaire
Tom Perkins, who has been (amongst other things) designing what will be the world's
largest private yacht. The boat's name? The Maltese Falcon!
FEBRUARY 17, 2006:
News from Carmel, California: The MPC Players are presenting "Rose's Dilemma" at
the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts. The play, written by Neil Simon and directed
by Conrad Selvig, is based on the love affair between Lillian Hellman and Dashiell
Hammett, and contains elements of both comedy and drama. For more details, click
FEBRUARY 14, 2006:
The year-long celebration of The Maltese Falcon's seventy-fifth anniversary (as detailed
below) is now officially over. Today marks the seventy-sixth anniversary of the
publication of Hammett's best-known novel.
FEBRUARY 7, 2006:
Sheila Marko, manager of San Francisco's Flood Building, where Hammett once worked,
tells us that the old Pinkerton Detective office is currently ready to rent. "We
are trying to see if anyone who has any affiliation with Dashiell Hammett or The
Maltese Falcon might be interested in renting the office;" says Sheila. "It is approximately
251 square feet, not very big, but certainly large enough for a small office or exhibit
room. If you have any ideas or suggestions I'd really appreciate hearing from you."
JANUARY 30, 2006:
Vince Emery reports: "The critically-praised bookDiscovering The Maltese Falcon
and Sam Spade, edited by Richard Layman, has been nominated by the Mystery Writers
of America for the Edgar Award—the mystery field’s most prestigious award—as the
Best Critical/Biographical book of the year." To read the full press release, click
JANUARY 26, 2006:
Today's San Francisco Chronicle includes an article mentioning the Dashiell Hammett
Suite at Hotel Union Square. (of course, loyal readers of this column were aware
of the Hammett Suite more than two weeks ago!) To read the Chronicle article, click
JANUARY 24, 2006:
Barnes & Noble is currently discounting the price of the Orion CrimeMasterworks editions
ofThe Dain Curse andThe Glass Key. Both are available on the B&N website for $3.99
each ($3.59 for B&N members).
JANUARY 10, 2006:
Today marks the 45th anniversary of Hammett's death.
JANUARY 9, 2006:
Dashiell Hammett never wrote a sequel to The Maltese Falcon, but the next best thing
may be on its way: An agreement has been tentatively reached between Hammett’s estate
and Edgar-winning mystery writer Joe Gores. Joe will write a prequel to The Maltese
Falcon-- working title: Spade & Archer. It should be on the shelves in the fall of
2007. Everyone involved is very excited about the project.(For a behind-the-scenes
peek at the celebratory dinner at John's Grill, click here!) A press release is not
yet available, but further information will be forthcoming. . . . Also: Radio
Spirits and The Smithsonian Institution have reduced the price of its six-CD set
of 11 Hammett-inspired radio programs, including The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key,
After the Thin Man, The Adventures of Sam Spade and The Fat Man. Also included is
an informative 32-page collectible booklet by radio historian Bill Nadel. For details,
JANUARY 6, 2006:
Trying to start the new year off right, I've added a new feature about the new Dashiell
Hammett Suite at San Francisco's Hotel Union Square. Click here to see it.
DECEMBER 28, 2005:
"The Maltese Falcon at 75" tour will wrap up in Sacramento, California. Julie Rivett
tells me it is "set to open on Friday the 13th (!) of January at Sacramento's Main
Library. It will close on the 29th." Julie herself will be speaking about ther
famous grandfather on "the evening of Wednesday, January 18, also at the Main Library."
DECEMBER 13, 2005:
I recently received as a gift (from my wonderful wife Carla) the Turner Classic Movies
edition of SceneIt, which is a DVD-based trivia game. The Turner version has four
small game pieces: King Kong, the sled from Citizen Kane, Dorothy's ruby slippers,
and this one, which should be instantly recognizable to fans of Dashiell Hammett
and Humphrey Bogart alike.
OCTOBER 18, 2005:
Time magazine has published a list of the 100 best English language novels since
1923. Interestingly enough, The Maltese Falcon didn't make the list, but Red Harvest
did! To see the full list, click here.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2005:
Eric Haralson informs us that Going Postal! is selling a T-shirt with the cover art
from Hammett's Dead Yellow Women, which was a 1946 paperback published by Dell. Click
here to see the T-shirt, or here to go to their website.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2005:
Hammett’s granddaughter Julie Rivett sends us this news: “The Maltese Falcon at 75"
exhibit will be shown at San Diego's Central Library (820 E Street) from October
3rd through 16th, 2005. All of the original San Francisco exhibit items will be included,
plus an additional case featuring contemporary Hammett publications and 75th anniversary
artifacts. It will be a handsome exhibit. An accompanying program will be held on
Saturday, October 15 at 2:30. I will discuss the book and its place in American culture.
A screening of the film version of The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart,
will follow. The discussion and screening will be in the third floor auditorium.” Julie
went on to say that a similar event is tentatively scheduled for Sacramento in January,
SEPTEMBER 9, 2005:
Nigel A. Renton of Berkeley tells us that "California writer Laurie R. King has introduced
Dash as a disillusioned Pinkerton man in her latest novel Locked Rooms. This is one
in her very successful series of Mary Russell novels (Mary, married to Sherlock Holmes,
returns to San Francisco in the story. Holmes detects that Dash is following him,
and confronts him.) I recommend the story, and I hope those who visit the site will
read it, so I'll not give away any more of the typically complex plot."
SEPTEMBER 7, 2005 ;
The incredibly prolific Richard Layman, who has already published six books about
Hammett, is about to release his latest: Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade.
The picture-packed volume is available from Vince Emery Books right now, and will
hit major bookstores September 28. For all the details, click here.
AUGUST 2, 2005:
The Maltese Falcon has been spotted at Lake Seymour, Alaska! My lovely wife Carla
took this picture on her recent trip to Alaska. It shows a gentleman named Mark
holding his prized Maltese Falcon poster which has been applied to (of all things)
a grape crate from California’s Sonoma Valley!
JULY 25, 2005:
Jeff Kaufman of Los Angeles has anoounced that he is “producing a non-profit documentary
on the unjustly unsung Los Angeles artist Edward Biberman... My favorite Biberman
portrait is of Dashiell Hammett - it's stylized yet strangely insightful, and it's
the portrait of Hammett that hangs in the National Gallery. I have some good quotes
about the creation of this painting, from an old oral history with Biberman and from
a recent interview with Edward's remarkable 95-year-old widow Sonja.” Keep us posted
on the progress of the project, Jeff!
JULY 9, 2005:
Despite a number of false starts over the decades, Long Beach Shakespeare Company's
recently put on the first authorized, faithful stage adaptation of The Maltese Falcon. Julie
Rivett, Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter reports:
“Helen Borgers, the artistic director for the LBSC, and I began discussing the possibility
of a Falcon production in Long Beach. It would be good for her little theater and
a nice addition to the 75th anniversary celebrations. Martin Pope's adaptation of
Falcon opened at the Black Box Theatre in Long Beach on April 29, and ran through
June 18. It was well attended and well reviewed in local papers (The Long Beach Press
Telegram, etc.). The theater is very small, seating between 40 and 50 patrons. That's
a challenge for production, but it's also part of the theater's charm. (Fight scenes
were particularly engaging in proximity!) All in all, the play was a success and
a lot of fun to watch.”
As early as 1929, Hammett felt that Falcon would make a good stage play, but until
now, all previous attempts failed to get off the ground.
“The first contract with Benjamin Glazer was terminated in December of 1930, because
the rights could not be secured from Warner Bros. The second dramatic adaptation,
Here’s to Crime, written by Lawrence Stallings, was canceled when it was found to
beunsuitable for production,” said Ms. Rivett.
JULY 7, 2005:
Publisher Vince Emery is going for a “hat trick” with three—count ‘em—three Hammett
books coming out in the immediate future. The first, of course, is Lost Stories,
which I’ve been flogging in this column for quite some time. Attention collectors:
the Deluxe Limited Edition (autographed by both Emery and the legendary Joe Gores)
is available now. The regular edition will be out September 1st. In the pipeline:
Discovering Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon (edited by Richard Layman, who probably
knows more about the subject than anyone alive) due in September, and Hammett’s Moral
Vision, by George J. "Rhino" Thompson, set to debut in November.
Following a recent visit with my good friend Bill Arney, the photo tour of Hammett's
Post Street apartment has been updated and expanded. Click here to see the new pictures
(along with some old ones)!
MAY 18, 2005:
I recently received a tantalizing E-mail from a woman who stumbled across an old
copy of The Maltese Falcon in a used bookstore:
"I picked it up in 2003 in Florida. I actually thought it was an old bible. I flipped
through a few of the pages and found:
WITH BEST WISHES FOR ALL THE BEST--
'Hmmm, where do I know the name Hammett,' I thought to myself. Then I closed the
cover of the book and saw his name on the side of it. I paid a few bucks and walked
out the door with this little treasure and huge mysterious story behind it. I've
spent many hours finding out this history of Hammett and this book, but no true answers
in almost two years."
Currently, some of the world's top Hammett authorties are inspecting the signature
inscribed in the old volume. Could it really be an authentic Hammett autograph,
worth big bucks? Stay tuned!
MARCH 19, 2005:
Friends of the Library USA has recognized Dashiell Hammett’s old Post Street apartment
building as a national literary landmark. A large crowd jammed the sidewalk to see
the brass plaque unveiled. Don Herron, longtime host of the Dashiell Hammett Tour
acted as master of ceremonies, while Bill Arney, current occupant of Hammett’s old
digs, gave tours of the freshly-restored apartment. On hand for the ceremony were
Hammett’s daughter, Jo Hammett Marshall, as well as granddaughter Julie Rivett, and
several other family members. Featured speakers included legendary mystery writer
Joe Gores, noted Hammett scholar Richard Layman and FOLUSA executive director Sally
Reed. A sit-down luncheon followed at John’s Grill (“Home of the Maltese Falcon”). For
pictures of the festivities, click here.
MARCH 6, 2005:
Houston’s Franc Neal provides the following: “On the 75th anniversary of the novel's
original publication, Brazos Bookstore and Murder by the Book present a marathon
reading of The Maltese Falcon. Renowned mystery writer Robert B. Parker will begin
the reading, to be followed by a diverse cross-section of Houstonians, among them:
KTRK News Anchor Melanie Lawson, defense attorney Rusty Hardin, Menil Collection
Director Josef Helfenstein, and Sasha West, editor of the literary journal Gulf Coast.
The marathon will conclude, after approximately five hours, with an ensemble performance
of the novel's final chapter by actors from Main Street Theater.”
MARCH 1, 2005:
Always-reliable Shane Mawe points out that Salon.com has published a good article
on Hammett’s first novel, Red Harvest. To read it, click here.
FEBRUARY 24, 2005:
Julie Rivett, granddaughter of Dashiell Hammett, addressed a capacity crowd in the
Koret auditorium of San Francisco’s Main Public Library. Her hour-long talk focussed
on her famous grandfather, as well as the 75th anniversary of his best-known novel,
The Maltese Falcon. After a question and answer period, the proceedings relocated
to the library’s third floor, to view the extensive Maltese Falcon exhibition, which
will continue until March 21st. On display were Hammett’s own typewriter, various
first editions, and the original cast-lead falcon that appeared in the 1941 movie,
as well as fifty other items, mostly from Richard Layman’s private collection. For
pictures of the evening’s events, click here.
FEBRUARY 19. 2005:
Nation Public Radio (NPR) did several pieces this week on the 75th anniversary of
The Maltese Falcon. To hear them, click here.
FEBRUARY 11, 2005:
A senate resolution introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, honored the 75th anniversary
of The Maltese Falcon, calling Dashiell Hammett “an important American writer.” For
more details, click here.
FEBRUARY 3, 2005:
San Francisco's Hotel Union Square will be hosting a by-invitation-only Maltese Falcon
75th anniversary celebration, highlighted by a Humphrey Bogart & Mary Astor look-alike
contest. (Bogart and Astor, as you probably know, were the leads in the 1941 film
version of Hammett's novel.) Judges will include Robert Rosenthal, managing editor
of the San Francisco Chronicle, and other local celebrities. The festivities will
be held on Thursday, February 17th. Cocktails will follow at nearby John's Grill,
a well-known hangout of both the fictional Spade and the real-life Hammett. Rumor
has it that the original black bird statuette from the movie will be making an appearance.
On a smaller scale, the Chico (California) Mystery Book Club, which meets the first
Monday of every month at the local Barnes and Noble, has recently taken up some of
the hard-boiled classics. January's topic was Hammett's The Thin Man. February
will feature Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.
JANUARY 26, 2005:
Random House's Vintage imprint has released Vintage Hammett, which features excerpts
from Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, The Dain Curse and The Thin Man; and stories
featuring the Continental Op, including “The House in Turk Street,” “The Girl with
the Silver Eyes," and "Flypaper.” It also includes the story "Nightshade" which has
not been available in over fifty years. For a look at the cover art, click here.
Shane Mawe, our bureau chief in Dublin, Ireland, reports that the current edition
of Crimetime magazine (issue 41), has a featured article about DH. For details,
JANUARY 14, 2005:
Lost Stories rescues 21 long-lost Hammett stories, all either never collected in
an anthology or unavailable for decades. Stories range from the first fiction Hammett
ever wrote to his last. For each story, Hammett researcher Vince Emery provides an
explanation telling how Hammett’s life shaped the story and how the story affected
his life. In addition, all stories have been restored to their original versions,
replacing often-wholesale cuttings with the original text for the first time. To
round out this celebration of Hammett, three-time Edgar Award winner Joe Gores has
written an introduction describing how Hammett influenced literature, movies, television,
and Gores’ own career. The hardcover edition will be out September 2005, and will
sell for $27.95. In the meantime, here's a peek at the cover art and the table of
Awhile back, I reported that the excellent Continental Op Page seemed to have vanished. Today
I received an E-mail from its creator, E. Collins of Nanaimo, BC, assuring me that
all is well. "I didn't really go anywhere, just changed my address," says Mr. Collins. If
you haven't checked out his site, give it a look!
McFarland, publisher of reference and scholarly books, has released Reading Early
Hammett: A Critical Study of the Fiction Prior to The Maltese Falcon, focusing on
DH’s first published stories, especially those featuring the Continental Op. For
more details, click here.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2004:
Edmund Shea, noted photographer died at age 62. "In 1984, for a now out-of-print
luxury edition of Dashiell Hammett's mystery classic The Maltese Falcon, San Francisco's
Arion Press commissioned Mr. Shea to shoot contemporary views of sites where Hammett
had set scenes in the novel, originally represented by period photographs. North
Point Press later issued the book in a mass market paperback," notes Kenneth Baker
in the San Francisco Chronicle.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004:
An intriguing item on eBay, especially for those of you with deep pockets: “Item
number: 6926745560: Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961). American novelist, screenwriter,
considered the originator of 'hard boiled' school of detective fiction. He wrote
Maltese Falcon (1930) and The Thin Man (1934). We offer one of his very early works
'From The Memoirs of a Private Detective' which was taken from Smart Set Anthology
(1923). Custom bound together with a typed letter signed in full by Dashiell Hammett
on the stationery of 'The Lombardy' 111 East 56th Street, New York City, May 31,
1934 to Mr. Groff Conklin. Hammett writes: 'Whatever happened to the Smart Set anthology
you wrote me about last winter?' Obviously Mr. Conklin took a copy of Hammett's article
from the Smart Set and had it bound with Hammett's original signed letter. A note,
in pencil written in the back of this item states: 'March 1945 Bought at the sale
of Groff Conklin's books, City Book Auction...etc.' In excellent condition and quite
rare.” Opeming bid? A mere $1500.00. Keep in mind that when Hammett originally
wrote that article he was paid the going rate of a penny a word.
HAMMETT'S ONGOING INFLUENCE:
...ON THE STAGE...
The first-ever stage version of The Maltese Falcon was presentled by the Long Beach
Shakespeare Company April 29 through June 7, 2005. The production was adapted and
directed by Martin Pope. For more details, click here.
Dash, a one-person play in two acts by William F. Nolan and William Relling Jr, played
Feb. 15, 2004, at the Theatre West in LA, and also played a one-night stand in Chicago. It
was directed by Thomas Petitpas, and starred Michael Bell as Hammett (Fans of Rugrats
will pleased to know that Bell provides the voices of Drew, Chaz and Grandpa Boris
on the cartoon series). One of the producers for the LA production was Ray Bradbury.
Nolan is now looking for someone to put it on in San Francisco and New York. (Thanks
to Vince Emery for these details)
Transparent Theater's production of San Francisco Noir – Two Stories by Dashiell
Hammett, was to have opened in Berkeley in 2004, but was cancelled at the eleventh
hour. “It broke or hearts,” said stage manager Tom Clyde in a phone interview at
the time, “but it’s a show with a large cast and large budget. Since we’re non-profit
theater, we’ll have to raise more funds to do it properly. But we’re committed to
the show, and hope to produce it next season.” Sadly, it was not to be: the theater
company folded shortly after.
...IN THE MOVIES...
Samuel L. Jackson as the Continental Op? Well, sort of. Jackson's recent movie No
Good Deed (now on video) is based on Hammett's "The House in Turk Street," and appears
to follow the basic plot, with a lot of changes in details. For instance, I don't
recall the Op and the female crook having an erotic encounter involving a cello!
Still, it's refreshing to see Hammett given screen credit, instead of just having
his plot stolen outright (as usual).
Also on video: Dashiell himself (actually actor Steve Klinger) has a quick cameo
in the wacky comedy Haiku Tunnel. Apparently no one told the casting director that
Hammett was rail thin, unlike the bull-necked Klinger.
...ON THE STREET...
Congratulations to Don Herron, wrapping up his 28th year hosting the Dashiell Hammett
Tour. Trenchcoated Don says he plans to lead the four-hour tour of "San Francisco's
finest back alleys" at least until the thirtieth anniversary, and likely beyond that.
See Don's website for more details.
Hammett's characters tend to pop up in music every now and then. Three examples:
Back in 1989, Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher released a song entitled "The Continental
Op," after Hammett's nameless detective. The lyrics can be found by clicking here.
More recently in Ireland, our friend Shane Mawe tells us there was a rock group named
"Dinah Brand," after the infamous bad girl in Red Harvest, Hammett's 1929 novel.
And, perhaps the most unexpected example, composer Sean Carson has been working (off-and-on
for a few years now) on an actual opera based on Red Harvest! Details can be found
by clicking here.
Shane Mawe also informs us that curiouschapbools.com is selling Hammett T-shirts,
promoting their book Dashiell Hammett's San Francisco. And Eric Haralson let us know
that Going Postal! is selling a T-shirt with the cover art from Hammett's Dead Yellow
...AND, OF COURSE, IN PRINT
According to his official website, William F. Nolan (author of the science fiction
classic Logan's Run and dozens of other books) is developing a new Hammett biography,
entitled A Life Beyond Thursday: The Dark World of Dashiell Hammett. (The title refers
to Nunnally Johnson's observation that Hammett lived like a man who didn't expect
to be alive much beyond Thursday.) No word yet as to when it will be released.
Harry Lerner, PhD candidate at Montreal’s McGill University, reports this about the
long-delayed Dashiell Hammett: A Retrospective Anthology, edited by Jack Adrian: “As
a fellow Hammett fan I thought I would let you know that I contacted Oxford University
Press (OUP), regarding the projected release date for this volume. I was informed
that publication of this book has been abandoned altogether, at least through OUP.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”
(Wow, did you actually read all the way the the end? Congratulations!)