Talk:Dashiell Hammett

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Film adaptations[edit]

I think this article would be helped by some sort of chronological listing of the numerous film adaptations of Hammett's writings. Reading the chronology at the back of The Library of America's Complete Novels, I see that there are many more film adaptations than those of which I was previously aware, the best example being John Huston's 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon. There are already articles relating to the different versions of Falcon, but a listing of the numerous films here on the main author article would not be out of place. I hope to get started on it tomorrow. I would appreciate hearing any thoughts and opinions anyone would care to share. ---Charles 22:26, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

would you be including the numerous movies based on Yojimbo? Akira Kurosawa once said (in an interview i can't find at the moment) that he had taken the plot from Red Harvest. since then, movies from A Fistful of Dollars to The Warrior and the Sorceress and many more in between have all drawn on that plot. Whateley23 09:39, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
Kurosawa has acknowledged that some aspects of the character of the samurai hero of the film were modelled on Ned Beaumont in Hammett's The Glass Key and that Red Harvest was the source of the plot device of eliminating the competing gangs by inciting them to kill each other off. The scene in which Sanjuro is tortured by an apish henchman of the gang boss, but finally manages to escape, is taken straight from The Glass Key.
Even more curious is Walter Hill's use of Hammett in Last Man Standing. The film's admittedly based on Yojimbo (crediting the writers) – but there's scenes which are taken direcly from Hammett's short stories, like the opening scene with the automobile coming out of the desert ("Nightmare Town"). Also the Coen brothers' use of Hammett and Lillian Hellman as models for Mayhew and Audrey in Barton Fink is worth mentioning: Hellman's introduction to The Big Knockover is obviously a source, with it's mentioning of Hammett's love for white clothes and his "family relations" to Wallace Beery. Besides, Hammett himself is a character in at least two films. -- Linkomfod 19:15, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

I would just like to point out in response to Linkomfod's assertion above that the characters of Mayhew and Audrey in "Barton Fink" represent Hammett and Hellman, that it has been accurately noted many times that the Mayhew and Audrey characters are based on William Faulkner and Meta Carpenter. The Coen brothers do reference Hammett extensively, but this is not an instance where they do. (talk) 05:21, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Hammett's work as scriptwriter[edit]

His work as a scriptwriter in Hollywood in the 1930ies should be mentioned. For instance he wrote/co-wrote the screenplays Watch on the Rhine (with Lillian Hellman), City Streets (film), The Thin Man (film), After the Thin Man and others.

Hammett's Strengths/Weaknesses sections[edit]

Has anyone got sources for these criticisms? As is, the weakness section reads like some random reader's opinion, while the strength section isn't substantial -- almost as if it was tossed in just to have a strength section to go with the weakness section.

I can go through point by point, if it's desired, but in a nutshell it all boils down to what I've said above. g026r 18:52, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree. The Weakness section is one of the biggest bunches of BS I have ever read in Wiki. The tip-off is the use of the word "grandiosity" in the first line, then it being repeated a gazillion times. It reads like a junion high school essay to me. I'm too lazy to do it, but it should be ruthlessly edited. Or even deleted entirely, since much of it is obviously POV, Original Research, and unsourced. Hayford Peirce 04:37, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I was feeling grouchy last night. It reads like a *high school* essay, not a junior high. In any case, I have deleted all that material. Some of it is probably worth rewriting, with remorseless editing, and putting back in the article, but there is an enormous amount of stuff that has to be edited out. Hayford Peirce 17:11, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Well the word grandiosity occurs twice, but I have fixed that and also edited out a fair amount of material to make the whole thing more concise. As to sources, I have given the story title for each instance cited - do you claim I have misrepresented Hammett's plots? I believe it's a fair point to make that the short stories appear to harp on the the theme of the Master Criminal and other cliches of the genre far more than the novels (for the sake of brevity I have eliminated all previous references to these other motifs, such as ethnic stereotyping, ghost and cowboy themes, and gimmick endings). Therefore, what other changes can be made to improve the section to bring it up to Wikipedia standards? Cspalletta 05:20, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
Reading the current text of the "Early works" section, my first thought is that there's more than one way to look at this. Use of "cliches" migh also be seen as clever – and literary advanced – use of genre archetypes. Using stock characters instead of modern mainstream literature's "round characters" is a literary tradition connected to pre-modernist literature, especially classisist drama. I think Hammett knew this from the start (just as contemporary crime writers in Britain). There's nothing naıve about Hammett's early short stories; they're the work of an ambitious and talented writer. The use of formulas and motifs from western and ruritanian stories migh be seen as tours de force in popular literary traditions, reminicent of the great storytellers of the 18th and 19th century. -- Linkomfod 19:39, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Uncollected Works[edit]

I have removed the section that claimed that there are numerous short works by Hammett that have never been published because, supposedly, of Lillian Hellman's low opinion of Hammett's detective work. This section had no citations or evidence for the claim, and had two "fact" tags in it, indicating a great deal of doubt as to its claims. If sources for these claims can be found, a new section can be added that is actually of encyclopaedic value. ---Charles 05:19, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Actually a lot of previously unavailable material has recently been published, in the collection Nightmare Town. Cspalletta 05:26, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
With "never been published" I presume you mean "not re-published in books after Hammet's death". Of course the short stories in question were published in magazines in the 1920's and 30's, and they're well-known by fans and scholars. Lot's of collectors – perhaps even public libraries – have copies of the original magazines. There's a comprehensive list of Hammett's short stories at the Norwegian section of Wikipedia. -- Linkomfod 19:25, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Pop culture references[edit]

Since this is, for all intents and purposes, a trivia section under a different name, and is, therefore, frowned upon by Wikipedia's guidelines, I bring this here for discussion:

In 1975, writer Joe Gores published Hammett, a novel in which a fictional version of the writer is sought out by an old Pinkerton associate to help him solve a case that drags him through the seamy underbelly of 1929 San Francisco. In 1982, a film version directed by Wim Wenders was released.
Jason Robards portrayed Hammett in the 1977 film Julia, based on the true story of Lillian Hellman.
A fictionalized version of Hammett appears in "Locked Rooms" by Laurie R. King. The novel is about Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell, who travel to San Francisco in 1924 to settle Russell's parent's estate. While there Holmes meets, and hires, Hammett to do some investigative work.

Unlike a great many "pop culture" sections I have seen in other articles, I think all of these are actually relevant and important. But, they need to be discussed in the context of a section on Hammett's continuing legacy. As has been mentioned elsewhere on this page, Hammett is a huge influence on the Coen Bros., just for one example. (This pop culture section had a rambling bit about the Coen Bros., but I deleted it because it was so, well, rambling, speculative, and unreferenced.) I know that there are references out there on the influence of Hammett, they just have to be found. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 04:28, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Early work[edit]

I removed this from the article, and bring it here for discussion:

Hammett's short story output, as opposed to his later novels, is very uneven. In his short stories he dwells heavily on the clichés of 1920s pulp fiction, especially on the theme of the Super-Crook or Master Criminal. (See Archvillain.)
Hammett has super-criminals both male ("$106,000 Blood Money", "The Big Knockover") and female ("The Girl with the Silver Eyes", "The House on Turk Street"). He amusingly depicts the Fu Manchu—like crime boss of Chinatown in "Dead Yellow Women". In "Nightmare Town" he has a criminal gang which plots to burn down an entire city for insurance reasons. In "The Gutting of Coufignal" he has a White Russian general who leads a military-style operation to rob the cream of California society, gathered together on an isolated island for a wedding. In "The Big Knockover", he has a super-crook who attacks not just a single bank but the entire financial district of San Francisco, with the help of hundreds of other criminals gathered together from all over the U.S. Then the super-crook turns around and wipes out most of his helpers in order to keep the loot for himself. In The Dain Curse, a madman's quest for revenge on a woman who has scorned him leads directly or indirectly to the deaths or maimings of more than a dozen people. Another character in The Dain Curse, a cult leader, has convinced himself that he is the Lord Jehovah incarnate, and when the Op barely manages to kill him after shooting him seven times and stabbing him in the throat, he thinks to himself "Thank God he wasn't really God".

As I said in my edit summary, I believe this to be unsalvageable original research that has no place in the article. If anyone cares to try to make something of it, feel free. But, we need a real "early work" section, not someone's college essay on Hammett. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 22:23, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Oy. There are two compilations of Hammett's 'Op' stories: The Big Knockover is some very early, immature work, with not so believable plots, and decent but not superb characterizations. The writing style is a work in progress. (The Dain Curse, although written in mature style has a convoluted, fantastic plot of a piece with the early Op stories.) Though given its setting in the precious side of San Francisco culture, perhaps not so far fetched. The second compilation, The Continental Op, is in Dammett's terse, elegant mature style. Characters may be exotic and eccentric, but are well drawn and believable. Of course, this is original literary crticism and can't go in the article. Hopefully some Hammett scholar will happen on this woefully incomplete article and bring it up to snuff, in accord with Hammett's place in american literature. Regards all.

Tapered (talk) 08:55, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

On the one hand, that is a terrible article. On the other hand, it is fairly accurate. I guess it technically counts as original research, but it's really just a plot summary of his various short stories. Anyways, the section on Hammett's work is pitiful. His entire writing career is summed up in two sentences and one quote. ~ Dancemotron (talk) 00:18, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

No question it's badly done. But how can it be regarded as original research when it consists of nothing but simple factual statements about the contents of Hammett's books, contents which are readily verifiable, citable, checkable materials? On this basis, no one could ever make any statement whatsoever about any writer based on the content of that writers work. That seems pretty stupid to me.Poihths (talk) 20:17, 20 October 2011 (UTC)


How come there aren't any references to his short story Corkscrew in here? Or did I miss them. --Gwib (talk) 14:10, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

I named that story, in a section on the many "novelty" stories Hammett published, just for the money, before his first novels took off. That is, stories that rely for their impact on some unusual setting, or circumstance, in the story, or in the ending. That section however was removed by some one more interested in decorum than truth.
In "Corkscrew", as I recall, Hammett's Continental Op becomes a Western sheriff, and cleans up a frontier town single-handedly, using the same methods he used to cleanup "Poisonville" MT in the novel "Red Harvest".
In "The Man who shot Dan Odom", the eponymous shooter lies wounded dying in a hillbilly shack, recalling the facts of the case, until in his final reflections, he realizes that the woman who hid him out after the shooting is also the loving wife of the late Dan Odom, the very one who turned him in to be shot. The shooter mutters "Good Girl" approvingly and breathes his last.
There are a lot of these and most are to be found in the late Hammett collection "Nightmare Town". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:52, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Where he lived in San Francisco[edit]

When I was taking the bus in San Francisco - I didn't know that I was waiting in front of the building of where he took residence. Not sure of the address but there was a plaque in front. He lived on the 4th floor and the intersection was Post and Hyde on Russian Hill. Apparently he lived there from 1929 to 1932 and he wrote a couple of novels at that time.

18:18, 28 May 2008 (UTC)


Nothing about it.Xx236 (talk) 14:14, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

There is also no mention of his alcoholism (the curse of Americas writers). Mr Hammets alcohol addiction is an important detail of his life, not just gossip. He went from from what would today be called 'indulgence drinking', to daily drunkenness that blighted his creativity and life.Johnwrd (talk) 01:14, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Cleanup of Section request January 2009[edit]

I have added the Template:Cleanup-section to the section Early work. Its content was deleted on May 7, 2008 by RepublicanJacobite which I feel left a hole in the article. Yet I agree that the section should be revised. I think by adding the template requesting a cleanup is the better way to handle that problem. JM.Beaubourg (talk) 19:29, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

When and where was he 1st published[edit]

When did he first begin writing and when was he first published? As written the implication is he began after either 1921 when he left Pinkertons or sometime after 1926 when the marriage broke up. Nitpyck (talk) 06:09, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

By 1922 , Hammett was a fledgling professional writer in San Francisco, publishing his first short story, "The Parthian Shot," in the October 1922 issue of The Smart Set, and shortly after, "The Road Home" in the December 1922 issue of a relatively new pulp mag, Black Mask. Nitpyck (talk) 17:55, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Imprisonment and the blacklist[edit]

The section titled Imprisonment and the blacklist neglects to address either how long and where he was in prison or if he was blacklisted. Nitpyck (talk) 07:21, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

I have changed the paragraph about the blacklist, and removed the McCarthy reference. He testified before HUAC, NOT McCarthy's committee. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:18, 28 September 2013 (UTC)


I just removed a reference, added by an anonymous user, for a lecture by an individual named Joan Mellen. Here is the ref.:

<ref name="mellen">Mellen, Joan. (March 5, 2009). "Dashiell Hammett Lecture." Retrieved on 2010-09-05 from </ref>

There is no indication that this individual is a recognized expert or notable source on the subject, and the source is obviously self-published. I would like to see some indication that this source meets our standards for inclusion before it is readded. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 21:53, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Category:People self-identifying as alcoholics[edit]

I have removed this category, as there is no indication in the article that this is so. In fact, the word "alcoholic" never appears in the article once. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 15:07, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Blurbs for Short Fiction[edit]

I started this section, same as I did for Clifford D. Simak and the Retief stories, because everywhere on the Internet you can find lists of lists of lists, but not blurbs for the stories themselves. So if someone recalls, "What was the story where he went to Europe?" or "Which stories are Op stories?", there's a reference. Clayton Emery — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:06, 1 September 2011 (UTC) October 13, 2011. For crying out loud, where else on the Internet can one find blurbs for DH stories? Maybe you could create a separate page for complete works, splitting off the bio stuff. Would that satisfy the "no original research" prohibition? CE

Short, POV descriptions of his stories are not encyclopedic. ---RepublicanJacobiteTheFortyFive 16:41, 13 October 2011 (UTC)