Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dashiell Hammett Quotes

(May 27, 1894—January 10, 1961) was an American author of hardboiled detective novels and short stories. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse). In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on film, Hammett "is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time" and was called, in his obituary in the New York Times, "the dean of the... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction." [Source: Wikipedia]

"I've been as bad an influence on American literature as anyone I can think of."

"Another man whose social life has ruined him."

"Feed the lettuce to the bunny and eat the bunny."

"People always say things like, Oh, well, he was suffering so much that he was better off dying. But that's not true. You're always better off living."

"I haven't any sort of plans for the future but I reckon things will work out in some manner."


The Thin Man (1929):

“How do you feel?”
“Terrible. I must have gone to bed sober.” (Nora & Nick)

“She keeps trying and you’ve got to be careful or you’ll find yourself believing her, not because she seems to be telling the truth, but simply because you’re tired of disbelieving her.” (Nick Charles)

“You got types?” (Nora)
“Only you, darling--lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.” (Nick)

The Maltese Falcon (1930):

"Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down-from high flat temples-in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blonde satan." (Description of Spade)

“Our conversations have not been such that I am anxious to continue them in private.” (Cairo)

“The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.” (Spade)

19 comments:

Barrie said...

Those are some great quotations!

Josh said...

great quotes.

David Cranmer said...

Great quotations, yes, but do you think a modern writer could get away with the V descriptions (from The Maltese Falcon) today?

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm about to start "The maltese falcon." I"ve read others by Hammett and really enjoyed them.

bish8 said...

Nice post. Col quotes. Also see you're listening to The Best of Julie London. Fabulous CD featuring my all time favorite torch singer.

David Cranmer said...

Charles, You will not be disappointed.

Bish, I grew up on Julie's Dixie McCall character from Emergency! Thanks to Ray over at the Broken Trails blog I'm now a card carrying fan of her music as well. "Come On A My House" is my current favorite song.

sandra seamans said...

Great quotes and I'm ashamed to say I haven't read Hammett yet. I'm a big fan of the Thin Man movies though. I just love how they spit those lines back and forth faster than a speeding bullet. :) I think you're right about the v's, they probably wouldn't fly in today's market.

Sarah Hina said...

I'm not familiar with his work outside the film adaptation of The Maltese Falcon (which was great), but I enjoyed reading these.

As a former vegetarian, I must admit to getting the biggest kick out of the bunny one. ;)

David Cranmer said...

Sandra, I think I'm as surprised by you saying you haven't read Hammett as you were by me saying I don't read (other than Hemingway/Chandler) a book twice:) Like Charles you are in for a heck of a treat.

Sarah, seeing your comment reminds me I have to finish my flash for The Clarity of Night. I'm almost done but having difficulty with the last two lines.

Barbara Martin said...

Many years ago I would read my brothers' Hammett books and I think its time to revisit them.

ARCHAVIST said...

I'm still not as familiar with Hammett as I should be - I've a great foilo edition of his Continental Op stories.

ARCHAVIST said...

DAVID - I admire anyone who can do a flash piece - just too short for me.

David Cranmer said...

Archavist, I'm working on my novel and finding just the opposite problem. Stretching and adding filler is a tough chore!

Clare2e said...

OMG David! As if Hammett weren't great enough, reminding me of Emergency's Dixie sends me straight into reverie over the incomparable Randolph Mantooth!

David Cranmer said...

Randolph Mantooth! Ha! Clare you always crack me up!

paul d brazill said...

well, that blew my skirt up so much, I can't see a thing! Smashing!

David Cranmer said...

Paul, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Brian Drake said...

Wonderful quotes from a writer who did more to influence my style of writing than any other writer I can think of.

David Cranmer said...

Brian, He seemed to write so
effortlessly. I wonder if it was harder for him than we realize and that's one of the reasons he stopped writing? I might check into buying a bio on Hammett.