Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon & other adventures
  • Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon & other adventures

    • Dashiell Hammett

    • Connie Booth (Read by)

    • Full Cast (Read by)

    • Jane Lapotaire (Read by)

    • Stuart Milligan (Read by)

    • Tom Wilkinson (Read by)

    • William Hootkins (Read by)

    The godfather of the hard-boiled detective novel, Dashiell Hammett is widely acknowledged as one of America's greatest mystery writers. This collection brings together the BBC radio adaptations of his works for the first time, including the iconic The Maltese Falcon featuring his most famous character: Sam Spade.

    The Maltese Falcon
    San Francisco, 1928. When his partner is murdered on an assignment, private detective Sam Spade is drawn into a dangerous case involving a treacherous femme fatale and the priceless black statuette of a falcon... Tom Wilkinson and Jane Lapotaire star in this thrilling dramatisation of Hammett's most famous novel.

    Secret Agent X-9
    New York, 1934, and Secret Agent X-9 is about to embark on his most deadly mission yet. Falsely accused of murder, he struggles to stay one step ahead of the law in his relentless pursuit of his arch enemy, 'The Top'. Dramatised from a comic strip co-created by Dashiell Hammett, this tale of mystery, murder and mayhem stars Stuart Milligan, Connie Booth and William Hootkins.

    Nightmare Town
    Arriving in the desert boom town of Izzard, Arizona, sharp-edged tough guy Steve Threefall meets the beautiful, terrified Nova Vallance - and encounters danger, intrigue and a dark mystery... Read by Stuart Milligan.

    The Man Who Killed Dan Odams
    An escaped killer fleeing cross-country stumbles upon an isolated farm in Montana, inhabited by a woman and her young son... This mysterious and brooding noir western is read by Stuart Milligan.


    The Maltese Falcon
    Sam Spade - Tom Wilkinson
    Brigid O'Shaughnessy - Jane Lapotaire
    Mr Gutman - Peter Vaughan
    Joel Cairo - Nickolas Grace
    Effie - Mia Soteriou
    Miles Archer - William Hope
    Iva - Liza Ross
    Wilmer - Peter Acre
    Tom Polhaus - Norman Jones
    Lt Dundy - Harry Towb
    DA Bryan - Don Fellows
    Newspaperman - Robin Summers
    Taxi driver - Keith Edwards
    Man with key - Arnold Diamond
    Dramatised by Michael Bakewell
    Directed by Jane Morgan
    First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29 December 1984

    Secret Agent X-9
    X-9 - Stuart Milligan
    Grace Powers - Connie Booth
    The Top - William Hootkins
    Evelyn Powers - Rachel Power
    Deacon/Alden Powers - Peter Marinker
    Matthew/Steward/Luke - Michael John Paliotti
    Captain Brady/Bartholomew - John Guerrasio
    Jude - Bruce McGregor
    Cop 1 - Clive Rowe
    Harper-Carp - Kerry Shale
    Waitress/Sister Agnes - Miranda Pleasance
    Other parts played by the cast
    Dramatised by Mark Brisenden from the comic strip created by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond
    Produced by Chris Wallis
    First broadcast BBC Radio 5 Live, 1-22 January 1994

    Nightmare Town
    Read by Stuart Milligan
    Abridged by Neville Teller
    Produced by Elizabeth Allard
    First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 5-8 November 2001

    The Man Who Killed Dan Odams
    Read by Stuart Milligan
    Abridged by Neville Teller
    Produced by Elizabeth Allard
    First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 November 2001

Dashiell (Samuel) Hammett was born in 1894 in Maryland, USA. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore, leaving school at 14 and taking a variety of jobs including messenger boy, clerk, yardman and machine operator. A move to San Francisco saw him enrolling as an operative in the Pinkerton Detective Agency, the experience of which would feed his story writing. After being discharged from duty during the First World War for health reasons, Hammett began writing short stories for publication in literary magazines such as Black Mask. He then turned to novels, rapidly publishing some of his most notable work - Red Harvest (1929), The Dain Curse (1929), The Maltese Falcon (1930) and The Glass Key (1931). A new life of celebrity in Hollywood and New York led him to meet the playwright Lillian Hellman; they subsequently lived together until Hammett's death. Heavy drink would blight the rest of Hammett's writing career. A further novel, The Thin Man (1934), became a famous film, as had most of its predecessors. He earned a living from scriptwriting; and many of the short stories he had written for Black Mask were collected in three books, The Adventures of Sam Spade (1944), The Creeping Siamese and Other Stories (1950) and The Continental Op (1974). Hammett enlisted in World War II before being discharged with emphysema. In 1948 his drinking became so heavy that he suffered an attack of delirium tremens, which frightened him into abstention. During America's period of McCarthyism in the 1950s, Hammett refused to testify about 'un-American activities' in Hollywood. For this he was sent to prison for six months. He died in 1961; a collection of short stories, The Big Knockout and Other Stories, was published in 1966. With his creation of Sam Spade, and the distinctive style in which he wrote, Hammett had created a sub-genre of detective fiction which has since been christened 'hard-boiled'.

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