Updated: Aug 6
Dashiell Hammett, in full Samuel Dashiell Hammett, (May 27, 1894 — Jan. 10, 1961), was an American writer who created the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. He was also a screenwriter and political activist.
Hammett left school at 13 and worked at a variety of low- paying jobs before working eight years as a detective for the Pinkerton agency in Butte, Montana. He wrote The Maltese Falcon, which was printed in 1930, introducing the character of Sam Spade. The character would later be played by Humphrey Bogart in the film version directed by John Huston and became a classic of its genre.
Dashiell also wrote The Glass Key and The Thin Man.
The Thin man drew on his experiences with the Pinkerton detective, and his rocky on-again, off-again relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman with whom he formed a romantic alliance in 1930 that lasted until his death. The story was originally published in the December 1933 issue of Redbook. It appeared in book form the following month.
The story of The Thin Man is a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners. When Nick Charles, a former detective who has given up his profession to manage his wife Nora’s lumber fortune, is approached by the secretary of a former client who was murdered, Nick is drawn in, urged on by Nora, who loves a mystery.
The couple’s playful banter, rather than the crime, forms the actual center of the book. Nick and Nora Charles became Hammett's most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solves homicides in between wisecracks and martinis. It is considered One of the best-written, intelligent works of the private eye genre.
Hammett never wrote a sequel, but the book became the basis for a successful six-part film series, which began in 1934 with The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy; the film was directed by W. S. Van Dyke.
It was later then dramatized as a radio play on an hour-long broadcast of Lux Radio Theatre on June 8, 1936. William Powell, Myrna Loy, Minna Gombell, Porter Hall, William Henry, and Thomas Jackson reprised their film roles, and W. S. Van Dyke was host.
Other interesting facts:
* The TV series The Thin Man ran from 1957 through 1959, starring Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk.
* In the 1976 comedy spoof movie Murder by Death, the characters of Nick and Nora Charles became Dick and Dora Charleston, played by David Niven and Maggie Smith
* The 1979–84 ABC television weekly romantic detective series Hart to Hart also mimicked the central conceit. It starred Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, and Lionel Stander. In the 11th episode of the second season of the series, "Slow Boat to Murder", there is a scene where the Harts watch the film on TV.
Keep an eye out for more interesting information in Douggies Dialogues
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