RARA-AVIS: Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade

From: Vince Emery ( vince@emery.com)
Date: 30 Nov 2005

I mentioned in a previous message to my fellow Rara-Avians that Richard Layman's book Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade was going to come out in the future, but looking through my notes I found that I never informed everyone that the book actually has come out.

To rectify my omission:

Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade, a richly illustrated new paperback ($19.95 U.S./$26.95 Canada; 376 pages; ISBN 0-9725898-6-4), edited by Richard Layman, uncovers from institutional and private archives a wealth of revelations about the book and film versions of The Maltese Falcon, its author Dashiell Hammett, and his influential hero, detective Sam Spade.

Layman crams his book with fascinating facts, and provides hundreds of never-before-published photos, documents, and original source materials, including production notes for the three movie versions.

My favorite description of the book came from Kenneth Turan in the L.A. Times, who called it "a treasure beyond price for fans of both the classic Hammett novel and the three (that's right, three) film versions of the doomed quest for a black bird. An incredible amalgam of photos, memos, letters, reviews, whatever, this will make fans of the book or the film gasp as one unexpected delight succeeds another. With this book, wonders really do never cease."

A few of the many surprises provided:

• For rights to publish the now-famous novel (which has sold more than 4.5 million copies in English alone), publisher Alfred A. Knopf paid author Hammett an advance of nothing.

• The sculptor who created the legendary statuette of the black bird for the 1941 Humphrey Bogart movie may have been an accomplice of the Black Dahlia murderer and the killer of author James Ellroy's mother.

• Hammett's working notes (printed here for the first time) for his first, but never-finished novel, The Secret Emperor, show that it included elements he later used in The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key.

• About the same time that Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, he also wrote "The Boundaries of Science and Philosophy," published here for the first time.

• More than two thousand changes were made to the original Black Mask version of The Maltese Falcon before it was published as a novel.

Contributors to Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade include Dashiell Hammett himself, plus Jo Hammett, Richard Layman, Joseph T. Shaw, Mary Astor, Dorothy Parker, Hal Wallis, John Huston, Joe Gores, William F. Nolan, and more than fifty additional writers. It is illustrated with more than 250 black & white and color photos, drawings, and facsimiles.

Reviews have all been favorable so far. But no reviewer yet has called the book "the stuff that dreams are made of," much to my surprise.

I'll be glad to answer any questions.

Vince Emery

Vince Emery Productions Publisher:
- LOST STORIES by Dashiell Hammett
  SAM SPADE edited by Richard Layman

www.emerybooks.com Box 460279, San Francisco, CA 94146 USA vince at emery dot com     Phone 1.415.337.6000

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 30 Nov 2005 EST