Dashiell Hammett

Editor’s Note: Max Allan Collins has written over 50 novels and 17 movie tie-in books. He’s also the author of the Road to Perdition graphic novel, off which the film was based. With his new Mickey Spillane collaboration “Lady, Go Die” in great bookstores everywhere, we thought it would be fun to ask him for his ten best films noir. In true noir fashion, we bit off more than we could handle… We have to begin with a definition of noir, which is tricky, because nobody agrees on one. The historical roots are in French film criticism, borrowing the term noir (black) from the black-covered paperbacks in publisher Gallimard’s Serie Noire, which in 1945 began reprinting American crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Horace McCoy, Jim Thompson, Mickey Spillane, W.R. Burnett and many others. The films the term was first applied to were low-budget American crime thrillers made during the war and not seen in France till after it. The expressionistic lighting techniques of those films had as much to do with hiding low production values as setting mood. In publishing circles, the term has come to replace “hardboiled” because it sounds hipper and not old-fashioned. I tend to look at dark themes and expressionistic cinematography when I’m making such lists, which usually means black-and-white only; but three color films are represented below, all beyond the unofficial cut-off of the first noir cycle (Kiss Me Deadly, 1955). Mystery genre expert Otto Penzler has […]

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I’ve reported on the Thin Man remake that Johnny Depp is attached to star in a couple times before. First, there was the news that “Permanent Midnight” author Jerry Stahl would be writing the new screenplay for the film. Then there was word that past Depp collaborator Rob Marshall would be stepping in to direct. A new round of updates on the development of this project seem to confirm that, yes, Marshall is still attached to sit in the director’s chair. However, it seems that Stahl never actually did any writing for the film, so the suits have gotten a new guy to start a script from scratch. According to Deadline Rockland, veteran screenwriter David Koepp has now been charged with the duty of updating the exploits of married P.I. team Nick and Nora Charles. Koepp’s name doesn’t really tell me much about what to expect from this movie. He’s responsible for completely acceptable literary adaptations like Jurassic Park, but he’s also responsible for completely unacceptable literary adaptations like Angels & Demons. I guess his involvement is going to be a bit of a crapshoot.

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A remake of the classic detective story following the exploits of married couple Nick and Nora Charles has been in the works for a while with Johnny Depp attached to star as Nick Charles and Jerry Stahl on board to write the script. Rumor had it that Depp’s director on the upcoming fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film On Stranger Tides was thinking about signing on to this project as well, and now a press release from Warner Bros. has made it official. The Thin Man was first a novel written by Dashiell Hammett, then it was a film directed by W.S. Van Dyke, and now it will be remake by Rob Marshall. Marshall says of the project, “John [DeLuca] and I are overjoyed at the idea of working with Johnny again, especially on such a classy and classic project. We are also thrilled to be partnering this time with such wonderful producers as Christi Dembroski and Kevin McCormick, and we are looking forward to working with Warner Bros. to create a reinvention of a beloved story.”

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Chances are you’ve heard of The Thin Man already. First it was one of the most famous detective novels written by one of the most famous detective novel writers, and then it was a famous big screen adaptation from the 30s, back when film noir was all the rage. The novel, written by Dashiell Hammett, introduced the world to the characters of Nick and Nora Charles, a married couple who specialize in detective work. Or at least Nick does. Nora specializes more in providing banter. The film version spawned an entire series of sequels that went on to develop the Charles’ characters beyond what Hammett wrote in his original tale. Well now, in keeping with modern Hollywood’s modus operandi, The Thin Man is going to be remade. We wouldn’t want a possible franchise resurrection to sit on the shelf for too long. Johnny Depp will be playing the new version of Nick Charles as well as having a hand in producing the film. The first rumblings of this project becoming a possibility came last October, but now some concrete news is starting to surface. Reportedly Rob Marshall is close to agreeing to direct the film, and Jerry Stahl has agreed to write up a new script. Stahl is an author most famous for his memoirs about heroin abuse “Permanent Midnight”, but he also has a multitude of screen writing credits to his name, including episodes of a bunch of the biggest TV shows of the 80s and a little independent […]

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