Dashiell Hammett

Active - 1931 - 2002  |   Born - May 27, 1894   |   Died - Jan 10, 1961   |   Genres - Mystery, Thriller, Drama

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Biography by AllMovie

Dashiell Hammett did not pen many novels, but the few he did pen have had a profound effect upon the crime-drama/mystery genre. His character Sam Spade, was the original "hard-boiled" detective and became the basis for such other characters as Philip Marlowe, and Mike Hammer. Hammett was born and raised in St. Mary's County, Maryland. At age 13, he dropped out of school to become a courier. He then worked as a long-shoreman and from there became a Pinkerton detective. As an investigator he looked into Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's alleged involvement in the rape and murder of actress Virginia Rappe, and into the activities of notorious gambler Nick Arnstein. Hammett wrote his five mystery novels between the late 1920s and early 1930s. Three of those books became novels, the most famous being the 1941 film noir classic The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet (an excellent earlier version of the story was made in 1931). The Glass Key (1935, 1941) and the Thin Man, which became the basis of a five-film series between 1934 and 1947, were the other two that made it to film. Hammett became a story writer for Paramount in 1931. His first and best known such story was that of City Streets (1931). He also wrote screenplays such as Watch on the Rhine. Hammett's career was destroyed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951 when they identified him as an active communist. Hammett did not cooperate during the hearings and spent six months in jail. Later the Internal Revenue service accused him of tax delinquency and Hammett never wrote again.

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