Take It and Like It!
The Dashiell Hammett P.I. Poll


Here's the results (so far) for the Dashiell Hammett Poll.

Don't agree? Let's hear what you have to say. But remember, I'm a man who likes to talk to a man who likes to talk...


YOUR FAVOURITE HAMMETT WORK

  • The Glass Key
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Red Harvest
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Red Harvest
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • I'm sure almost everyone will say the Falcon, although I think The Glass Key is far superior. What a difference a good film makes.
  • Red Harvest
  • The Maltese Falcon, nothing except the best private
    eye novel ever written.

YOUR FAVOURITE HAMMETT CHARACTER

  • Ned Beaumont
  • The Continental Op
  • Asta or Sam Spade -- it's such a toss-up.
  • The Continental Op
  • The Continental Op
  • Dick Foley. A bit part, but what bit parts.
  • The Continental Op
  • The Continental Op
  • The Continental Op, nothing except the best private
    eye character ever created.

YOUR FAVOURITESHORT STORY

  • "One Hour"
  • "The Gutting of Configul" or however it's spelled.
  • "The Gutting of Couffignal"
  • "The Gutting of Couffignal""The House on Turk Street"
  • "The Girl with the Silver Eyes"
  • "The Gutting of Couffignal," nothing except the the
    best private eye short story ever written.

YOUR FAVOURITE HAMMETT' SHORT STORY COLLECTION

  • The Continental Op
  • The Continental Op and Other Stories
  • The Big Knockover
  • The Continental Op
  • The Big Knockover
  • Vintage Hammett -- simply the best.
  • The Continental Op
  • Probably the Hellman-edited The Big Knockover, which includes several of the best Op stories (including "Couffignal"), the first Op novel (Blood Money, appearing in this volume as the last two short stories, "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money"), and Hammett's abortive last attempt at a novel (Tulip).

YOUR FAVOURITE P.I. NON-FICTION OR REFERENCE WORK ON HAMMETT

  • A Life on the Edge by William F. Nolan.
  • The Legendary Passion of Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett by Joan Mellen. Nasty, nasty and no punches pulled... probably the most accurate look at Hammett's life, scraping away all the myths.
  • 3 Hardboiled Writers
  • Probably, just because it's the first, William Nolan's Dashiell Hammett - A Casebook, though it's been superceded by many other books since then, including Nolan's own A Life at the Edge, and the book-length collection of Hammett's letters.

YOUR FAVOURITE HAMMETT LINE, AND ITS SOURCE

  • "I'll tell you right out, I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk. (Caspar Gutman, The Maltese Falcon)
  • "You ought to have known I'd do it." My voice sounded harsh and savage and like a stranger's in my ear. "Didn't I steal a crutch from a cripple?" (The Op, "The Gutting of Couffignal)
  • "It was a wandering daughter job." (An Op story)
    Actually, it's "The Girl With the Silver Eyes."
  • "I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name. Later I heard it men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation." Humor adroitly combined with a sense of sinister foreboding."
    (the opening lines of Red Harvest)

YOUR FAVOURITE HAMMETT ADAPTATION
Radio/TV/Film/Comic Book/Whatever

  • The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart.
  • Is there anyone who won't say the 1941 film of The Maltese Falcon directed by John Huston and starring Bogey as Spade? I mean, god, it's perfect!
  • The Maltese Falcon with Bogart.
  • The Thin Man
  • The 1941 film version of The Maltese Falcon, nothing except the best private eye movie ever produced.

THE WORST HAMMETT ADAPTATION
Radio/TV/Film/Comic Book/Whatever

  • The Dain Curse. James Coburn as The Continental Op.
  • The Adventures of Sam Spade radio series.
  • I agree. The radio show was certainly great entertainment, but it wasn't Hammett at all.
  • Satan Met a Lady. On the other hand, the very first version of The Maltese Falcon with Ricardo Cordez was pretty good at times. Huston reshot some of the scenes frame for frame.
  • The Wildroot Cream Oil Sunday comic strip ads featuring Sam Spade.

THE BEST (UNCREDITED) HAMMETT ADAPTATION
Radio/TV/Film/Comic Book/Whatever

  • Miller's Crossing
  • Beat The Devil, based loosely on Maltese Falcon
  • Yojimbo
  • Miller's Crossing
  • What's that mean? Based on Hammett but not mentioning Hammett? If that's the case, probably the 1945 movie serial Secret Agent X-9, with Lloyd Bridges in the lead. The identically titled serial from the '30's with Scott Kolk is a bit of a disappointment.

THE WORST (UNCREDITED) HAMMETT ADAPTATION
Radio/TV/Film/Comic Book/Whatever

  • Last Man Standing
  • The Black Bird
  • Not necessarily the worst, but disappointing on several different levels, is Last Man Standing, ostensibly based on Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars, but pretty obviously derived from Red Harvest.

HAMMETT'S GREATEST MOMENT

  • Telling HUAC to shove it.
  • His refusal to knuckle under to HUAC.
  • Joining the army at about 400 years old to prove a point.
  • The publication of The Maltese Falcon.

BIGGEST WORST MOMENT

  • The Sam Spade short stories.
  • The Thin Man -- the films are actually far more fun.
  • Lillian Hellman.
  • That he only wrote 5 novels and a handful of short stories.
  • The Lost Weekend of the last twenty five years of his life. What a waste.
  • Tulip
  • The long silence following the publication of The Thin Man.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SHADOW MAN...
What contemporary writers best gives you that ol' Hammett feeling?

  • Joe Gores
  • Lawrence Block
  • Politically, maybe Pelecanos or Mosley. Style-wise, maybe Robert Parker, who combines the terse treatment of violence that Hammett did so well with the flippant dialogue of The Thin Man.
  • Dan Simmons.
  • Estleman, Jonathan Valin, Arthur Lyons
  • Bill Pronzini, particularly in the early books in the Nameless series.
  • None come close.
  • Kenneth Thornton Samuels. What's that, Kev? Oh, conflict of interest my ass! Oh, all right then. Joe Gores follows the Hammett playbook, probably more than any other contemporary PI writer, but still manages to follow his own path. Bill Pronzini, like Hammett and Gores, uses the San Francisco Bay Area setting to great effect, and also combines classical puzzle plots with hard-boiled toughness (particularly in his short stories) in much the same way Hammett did.
    (Kenneth Thornton Samuels)

SPILL THE BEANS
Further Thoughts on the Man...

  • "I just wonder how much Hammett influenced not just crime fiction, but all fiction. Books today -- in just about every genre except "literary" -- have characters who talk the way regular people talk and who act the way regular people act. This trend started before Hammett but his popularity didn't hurt."
    (Graham Powell from Fort Worth)

  • "The Maltese Falcon is the greatest crime novel written and The Continental Op is the greatest hardboiled PI series."
    (Dave Zeltserman from Hardluckville)

  • "A remarkable man and writer who probably never thought he was writing literature. His personal courage should be emulated by everyone"
    (Bill Watt from Pittsburgh)
    |
  • Best fictional depiction of Hammett:
    Joe Gores's novel Hammett.

    Author best able to complete the original version of The Thin Man along the lines it was originall started:
    Joe Gores.

    Author best able to complete the unfinished novel The Secret Emperor: Joe Gores (get the impression I'm a big Gores fan?).

    Best reason for not publishing a collection of new Continental Op stories by famous contemporary PI writers along the lines of Byron Preiss's Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe?
    There is no good reason. Why hasn't this been done?

    Worst thing that ever happened to Hammett:
    Meeting Lillian Hellman.

    If some of these answers seem familiar, it's because you've asked the questions before, and, as you know, I'm nothing if not consistent.
    (Jim Doherty, Chicago, IL)

BOOKS THAT REALLY SUCK TURD
Reserved for those who try to use thePoll to promote themselves

  • They Call Me Moe by T.G. Dixon

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