Sam Spade

Created by Dashiell Hammett

“When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it. And it happens we’re in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it’s—it’s bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.”
— Sam Spade

The original blonde Satan, Dashiell Hammett‘s SAM SPADE is one of the most important figures in the entire private eye genre. He made his debut in 1929 in the pages of Black Mask, in which the The Maltese Falcon was first serialized, and crime fiction has never been the same since.

Spade’s a “hard and shifty fellow,” a partner in the Archer and Spade Detective Agency of San Francisco and nobody’s idea of a hero. Sure, he likes Effie Perrine, the secretary, and he probably wouldn’t kick a small dog, but he’s not above cutting a corner or two, and he doesn’t particularly like his partner — nor is he above sleeping with his wife. But when Miles is murdered, he swings into action, and ends up mixed up with a quest for a priceless, black enamelled statuette, a rara-avis called the Maltese Falcon.

Collected and published in book form in 1930, the novel was an instant bestseller (it caused such a sensation that within the next twelve years years, it would be adapted into a movie not once, not twice, but three times).  Even today, the novel stands as a true classics of the genre; a vastly influential piece of work, chockfull of memorable lines and featuring one of the very first P.I.s “with his own private, unorthodox, but absolutely inviolable code of ethics,” according to William DeAndrea, in Encyclopedia Mysteriosa. And oh, what a cast of characters he has to deal with: Brigid O’Shaughnessy (or is it Miss Wonderly), a dame who tells so many lies she can’t keep track of them all; Joel Cairo, an effeminate art dealer whose motives stink worse than his corsage; the jolly chunk of corruption and greed that is Casper Gutman, whom everyone refers to as “The Fat Man,” and Gutman’s “gunsel” Wilmer, the Fat Man’s boy toy, who wants desperately to be seen as a tough guy.

The novel’s success even prompted Hammett to churn out three subsequent short stories featuring Mrs. Spade’s favourite cash-hungry son in the early thirties. They were all pretty solid, but the general consensus was that hey paled in comparison to the original novel, but Hey! — any Hammett is well worth reading. They were eventiually collected and published in book form as A Man Called Spade.

But the black bird’s impact was not only literary — the third film adaptation, rookie director John Huston’s 1941 version, became one of the most popular and important films in history; arguably the first film noir, and pretty much defined the hard-boiled private eye for the general public for decades to come.


Hammett’s one of the seminal creators in detective fiction. As if writing The Maltese Falcon wasn’t enough, he was also responsible for such enduring characters as The Continental Op and Nick and Nora Charles, husband and wife sleuths who were introduced in The Thin Man, and became the basis for a string of popular movies.


Hail, hail, the gang’s all here. From the 1941 film, left to right: Spade, Cairo, O’Shaugnessy and Gutman.

Next time some meathead loudly proclaims “Remakes suck!,” kindly inform him  that it isn’t always the case. The Maltese Falcon is one glorious exception.

The first attempt at bringing Spade to the big screen was The Maltese Falcon (subsequently known as “A Dangerous Female”), directed by Roy del Ruth and starring Ricardo Cortez as Spade. It was a solid, if unspectacular film, buoyed by being made pre-Hayes Code, and therefore allowing more overt references to the plot’s many sexual situations. But Cortez played Spade as a smirking womanizer, too smug and lightweight to possibly be taken seriously, and it didn’t help that the film was flawed by an anti-climatic jailhouse ending that merely reinforced the notion of Spade being something of a shit.

Even so,  there was a lot I liked about this version. The women in it were well cast, and easy on the eyes. I liked the guy who played Archer –his being much older than Iva made sense. And I did like the fact Spade at least appeared to have a sex drive (which made him even more credible as a shit to Iva than Bogart was). I thought the women on the whole were more believable (and a whole lot sexier) and the exposition a lot clearer (even if some of the book was MIA). But what struck me the most was how much Huston’s undeniably superior version followed this one. The identical camera angles, the set-ups, the framing of shots — even the way the actors delivered their lines are virtually identical. In fact, the 1941 cast looks almost like it was chosen for its resemblance to the 1931 originals — as though del Ruth filmed the rehearsal and ten years later Huston tidied up the rough edges.

(I’m beginning to think the whole story about Huston handing his secretary Hammett’s book and telling her to type up just the dialogue is a crock. I think possibly he used del Ruth’s earlier script as a guideline).

The second version, Satan Met a Lady (Warner Bros., 1936), on the other hand, was a mess, as though director William Dieterle couldn’t decide if he was making a screwball comedy or a crime film. Many changes were made to the original plot, the characters, even the title. None for the better. Sam Spade is now, for no apparent reason, Ted Shane, and the Fat Man is now the Fat Lady, while a young Bette Davis is pretty lacklustre as Miss Wonderly. More perplexing is why the infamous Black Bird is now a ram’s horn. Generally considered poorly acted, forced and dull, some have argued that it’s a spoof, but of what? Warren William as Spade had possibly the biggest head in Hollywood, but so what? At the end of the film, having finally grabbed the bejewelled horn, he gives it a tentative toot, which pleases him immensely. “Honey, it blows,” he informs Miss Wonderly.

I know how he feels.

But the third time was the charm. The Maltese Falcon, released in 1941 by Warner Brothers, written and directed by John Huston, and starring Humphrey Bogart as Spade was an amazing, powerful piece of work that still stands as one of the all-time great films of american cinema. Okay, Bogey didn’t match the description of Spade in the book — he was too small and too dark — but has anyone ever pictured anyone else playing Spade ever since? It made him a star — in fact, Bogart was so good as Spade that his later appearance as Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep never seemed quite right to me. Toss in a memorable cast of colourful characters (Mary Astor as Bridgid O’Shaugnessy, Lee Patrick as Effie Perrine, Sydney Greenstreet as Casper Gutman, Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo and Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer Cook) and a taut, moody screenplay that boiled down the novel to its essence, and you’ve got the making of the archetypical private eye film. Decades later, film makers are still trying to crawl out from its shadow.

There was even a rumoured plan to do a sequel with Bogart and the rest, although — thank God! — it never came to fruition. A comic sequel, The Black Bird, was filmed with George Segal as Sam Spade’s son, spoofed the original in the early ’70s. It never laid a finger on the original.


By the mid-forties, Spade had also established himself as a wildly popular staple of the airwaves, thanks to The Adventures of Sam Spade, a popular radio show, featuring Howard Duff in the lead role. If anyone asks, his private detective’s license was “137596 and he wrapped up each program by dictating a report on the case to “Effie” and finished off with “Period. End of report.”

The faithful sponsor was Wildroot Cream-Oil, who also ran a series of single-page comic ads in magazines, newspapers and comic books, with Spade shilling the product. (The ads were drawn by Golden Age artist Lou Fine, who later went on to do the Peter Scratch comic strip.)

In fact, the only real sequel to The Maltese Falcon was not produced for either prose or film, though, but for radio, as a special one-hour Spade episode called “The Khandi Tooth Caper.”  The episode was a direct sequel to The Maltese Falcon, with Spade once again meeting Gutman, Cairo, and Wilmer’s kid brother, another “gunsel.” It explains what happened to the real Falcon, alludes to Brigid O’Shaugnessy’s fate, and sets Spade and the bad guys at odds as they  search for another quest object, the fabled Khandi Tooth. As an inside joke, Robert Montgomery, who played Philip Marlowe in the film version of The Lady in the Lake, makes a cameo appearance as Marlowe in the episode. A few years later, the episode aired on Suspense, where Montgomery was the host.

At its peak, The Adventures of Sam Spade was so popular it even inspired a 1950 spin-off, Sara’s Private Capers. But by then, the political landscape had changed, the Cold War was on, and Hammett and his left-leaning views had fallen out of favor. The popular radio show was canned, and suddenly Hammett didn’t exist. The show was retitled Charlie Wild, Private Eye (to cash in on Wildroots commercial slogan: “Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie”) and all connections to Hammett were erased. And just for good measure, Duff was also out. But it was essentially the same show, the same hair tonic sponsor, etc. And it was Wild, not Spade, who eventually made the jump to television.


In 1946, The Maltese Falcon was presented in comic book form, adapted by Rodlow Williard and published by David McKay, as Feature Book #48, and distributed by King Features Syndicate. The adaptation was quite well-done, very faithful to both the book and the film.


  • “Don’t be so sure I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be.”
    — Sam Spade
  • “Childish, huh? I know, but, by God, I do hate being hit without hitting back.”
    — Spade, after letting loose an angry string of obscenities, after being hauled in for questioning by the cops. 
  • “Here. A crippled newsie took these away from him, but I made him give them back.”
    — Spade delivering a subdued Wilmer and his guns to Gutman.


  • “As a work of hardboiled fiction, The Maltese Falcon has everything: lies, deceit, double-cross, misdirection, violence, brutality, and a breathtaking coldness.”
    — Robert Crais, in his foreword to the 1999 Mystery Guild special edition
  • “The Maltese Falcon was one of the best books of its kind ever written. It struck the publishing world and reading world — which is something entirely distinct from the literary world — like a thunderclap. Nothing has been the same since.”
    — John Colby, New York Herald Tribune (January 10, 1961)
  • “… generally considered his finest work…. The novel’s sustained tension is created by vivid scenes and by the pace and spareness of the author’s style.”
    — The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
  • “I re-read The Maltese Falcon every year and each time discover new things to admire. Can’t beat it.
    — Vince Emery, The 14 Best Private Eye Novels of All Time (2012)


  • “The Maltese Falcon, Part 1” (September 1929, Black Mask)
  • “The Maltese Falcon, Part 2” (October 1929, Black Mask)
  • “The Maltese Falcon, Part 3” (November 1929, Black Mask)
  • “The Maltese Falcon, Part 4” (December 1929, Black Mask)
  • “The Maltese Falcon, Part 5” (January 1930, Black Mask)
  • “A Man Called Spade” (1932, The American Magazine; also in A Man Named Spade and Other Stories)
  • “Too Many Have Lived” (1932, The American Magazine; also in A Man Named Spade and Other Stories)
  • “They Can Only Hang You Once” (1932, The American Magazine; also in A Man Named Spade and Other Stories)




  • THE MALTESE FALCON | Buy the video | Buy it on DVD
    (aka “A Dangerous Female”)
    (1931, Warner Brothers)
    80 minutes
    Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
    Screenplay by Maude Fulton, Lucien Hubbard, Brown Holmes
    Directed by Roy del Ruth
    Starring Ricardo Cordez as SAM SPADE
    with Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly
    Dudley Digges as Casper Gutman
    Dwight Fry as Wilmer
    Otto Matiesen as Joel Cairo
    Una Merkel as Effie Perine
    Also starring Robert Elliot, Thelma Todd, Walter Long, J. Farrell MacDonald
  • SATAN MET A LADY | Buy the video Buy it on DVD
    (1936, Warner Brothers)
    74 minutes
    Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
    Screenplay by Brown Holmes
    Directed by William Dieterle
    Starring Warren William as TED SHANE (Sam Spade)
    Alison Skipworth as Madame Barabas (Caspar Gutman)
    and Bette Davis as Valerie Purvis (Miss Wonderly)
    Also starring Arthur Treacher, Winifred Shaw, Marie Wilson, Porter Hall, Olin Howlin, Charles C. Wilson, Barbara Blane, Maynard Holmes
  • THE MALTESE FALCON Buy the DVD Buy the 3-disc Special Edition Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1941, Warner Brothers)
    100 minutes, US
    Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
    Screenplay by John Huston
    Directed by John Huston
    Assistant Director: Claude Archer
    Associate Producer: Henry Blanke
    Exectutive Producer: Hal B. Wallis
    Starring Humphrey Bogart as SAM SPADE
    with Mary Astor as Bridgid O’Shaugnessy
    Lee Patrick as Effie Perine
    Sydney Greenstreet as Casper Gutman
    Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo
    Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer Cook
    Also starring Gladys George, Barton MacLane, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan, James Burke, John Hamilton, Emory Parnell and
    Walter Huston as Captain Jacobi
  • See also THE BLACK BIRD
    (1975, Columbia)
    A sorta sequel, sorta spoof of The Maltese Falcon, with Sam Spade’s son hot on the trail of “the Black Bird.”


    (1934-35, NBC Blue; 1936-48, CBS)
    60 minute episodes
    One-hour drama anthology

    • “The Maltese Falcon” (February 8, 1943, CBS)
      Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Edward G. Robinson as SAM SPADE
      Also starring Laird Cregar as Casper Gutman
      A radio adaptation of the Hammett classic, making Robinson the first (although certainly not the last) radio SAM SPADE. Generally considered far superior to the subsequent abbreviated Academy Award Theatre and Screen Guild Theater versions with Humphrey Bogart.
    aka “The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre”

    (1939-52, CBS)
    30-minute episodes
    An anthology series featuring Hollywood stars performing (abbreviated) adaptations of popular motion pictures.

    • “The Maltese Falcon” (September 20, 1943, CBS)
      Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Joel Cairo
    (1946, CBS)
    A drama anthology
    30 minutes

    • “The Maltese Falcon” (July 3, 1946)
      Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Humphrey Bogart , Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet
      The third radio version of the classic novel, this time performed by the stars of the 1941 film, but crammed into thirty minutes, it’s reportedly nothing but sad, sad, sad. The 1943 Lux Radio Theatre version is generally considered far superior. But reader Bob Toomey begs to differ: “I think the Academy Award Theatre version is the better one. Lux had an hour to do the show, but it just doesn’t capture the feel for the story the way this version does — although Edward G. Robinson and Laird Cregar are interesting as Spade and Gutman.”
    (1946, ABC)
    13 30-minute episodes
    Based on the character created by Dashiell Hammett.
    Writers: Jason James, Bob Tallman, Gil Doud
    Musical Director: Lud Gluskin
    Sponsor: Wildroot Cream-Oil
    Starring Howard Duff as SAM SPADE
    with Lurene Tuttle as Effie
    (Duff replaced on some occasions by Stephen Dunne)
    Here we go. One of the most iconic detective shows of old-time radio, earning writers Jason James and Bob Tallman an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1947 for their work.This program, set in San Francisco, made itsdebut over CBS in 1946 and was later heardover ABC and NBC. Its faithful sponsor was Wildroot Cream-Oil.

    • “Sam And The Guiana Sovereign” (July 12, 1946)
    • “Sam And The Farewell Murders” (July 19, 1946)
    • “Sam And The Unhappy Poet” (July 26, 1946)
    • “Sam And Psyche” (August 2, 1946)
    • “Death And Company” (August 09, 1946)
    • “Two Sharp Knives” (August 16, 1946)
    • “Zig Zags Of Treachery” (August 23, 1946)
    • “Sam And The Scythian Tiara” (August 30, 1946)
    • “The Corporation Murders” (September 6, 1946)
    • “The Dot Marlow Caper, Part 1” (September 13, 1946)
    • “The Dot Marlow Caper, Part 2″(September 20, 1946)
    • “The Count On Billy Burke” (September 27, 1946)
    • “The Gutting Of Couffignal” (October 4, 1946)
    (1946-49, CBS)
    157 30-minute episodes
    Sponsor: Wildroot Cream Oil
    Writers: John Michael Hayes
    Starring Howard Duff as SAM SPADE
    with Lurene Tuttle as Effie
    Guest stars: Sandra Gould (played the “new secretary” while Lurene Tuttle was on vacation, in the June 27, 1948 show), William Conrad, Jack Webb.

    • “The Blood Money Caper” (September 29, 1946)
    • “The Unwritten Law Caper” (October 6, 1946)
    • “The Ten Clues Caper” (October 13, 1946)
    • “The Fly Paper Caper” (October 20, 1946)
    • “The Midway Caper” (October 27, 1946)
    • “The Certified Czech Caper” (November 3, 1946)
    • “Sam And The Farewell Murders” (November 10, 1946)
    • “The Hot Ice Caper” (November 17, 1946)
    • “The Kandy Tooth Caper, Part 1” (November 24, 1946)
    • “The Kandy Tooth Caper, Part 2” (December 1, 1946)
    • “The Minks Of Turk Street” (December 8, 1946)
    • “The Picture Frame Caper” (December 15, 1946)
    • “Sam And The Three Wise Men” (December 22, 1946)
    • “The Golden Horeshoe” (December 29, 1946)
    • “The Liewelyn Caper” (January 5, 1947)
    • “The Cremona Clock Caper” (January 12, 1947)
    • “The False Face Caper” (January 19, 1947)
    • “The Agamemnon Caper” (January 26, 1947)
    • “The Dead Duck Caper” (February 2 1947)
    • “The Girl With The Silver Eyes” (February 9, 1947)
    • “Inside Story On Kid Slade” (February 16, 1947)
    • “The Big Production Caper” (February 23, 1947)
    • “The Uncle Money Caper” (March 2 1947)
    • “Orpheus And His Lute” (March 9, 1947)
    • “The Ingnorance About Bliss” (March 16, 1947)
    • “Too Many Spades” (March 23, 1947)
    • “The Dancing Pearl Caper” (March 30, 1947)
    • “The Poisonville Caper” (April 6, 1947)
    • “The Double-Scar Caper” (April 13, 1947)
    • “The Scrooge Of Portrero Street” (April 20, 1947)
    • “The Debutante Caper” (April 27, 1947)
    • “Duet In Spades” (May 4, 1947)
    • “The Yule Log Caper” (May 11, 1947)
    • “The Assistant Murderer” (May 18, 1947)
    • “Jury Duty” (May 25, 1947)
    • “The Mishakoff Emeralds” (June 1, 1947)
    • “The Calcutta Trunk Caper” (June 8, 1947)
    • “The Convertible Caper” (June 15, 1947)
    • “The Greek Letter Caper” (June 22, 1947)
    • “The Cosmic Harmony Caper” (June 29, 1947)
    • “The Simile Caper” (July 6, 1947)
    • “The Buff-Orpington Caper” (July 13, 1947)
    • “Sam And The Unhappy Poet” (July 20, 1947)
    • “The Gold Rush Caper” (July 27, 1947)
    • “The Crooked Neck Caper” (August 3, 1947)
    • “The Commonwealth Tankard” (August 10, 1947)
    • “The Doctor’s Dilemma Caper” (August 17, 1947)
    • “The Jade Dragon Caper” (August 24, 1947)
    • “The Corkscrew Caper” (August 31, 1947)
    • “The Forty-Nine Cent, Caper” (September 7, 1947)
    • “The Cinderella Caper” (September 14, 1947)
    • “The April Caper” (September 21, 1947)
    • “The Madcap Caper” (September 28, 1947)
    • “The Adam Figg Caper” (October 5, 1947)
    • “The Tears Of Buddha Caper” (October 12, 1947)
    • “The Untouchable Caper” (October 19, 1947)
    • “The Bonnie Fair Caper” (October 26, 1947)
    • “The Wrong Guy Caper” (November 2 1947)
    • “The Bow Window Caper” (November 9, 1947)
    • “The Purple Poodle Caper” (November 16, 1947)
    • “The Caper With Eight Diamonds” (November 23, 1947)
    • “The Full House Caper” (November 30, 1947)
    • “The Palermo Vendetta Caper” (December 7, 1947)
    • “The Gumshoe Caper” (December 14, 1947)
    • “The Nick Saint Caper” (December 21, 1947)
    • “The Perfect Score Caper” (December 28, 1947)
    • “The One Hour Caper” (January 4, 1948)
    • “The Short Life Caper” (January 11, 1948)
    • “The Pike’s Head Caper” (January 18, 1948)
    • “The Gold Key Caper” (January 25, 1948)
    • “The Nimrod Caper” (February 1 1948)
    • “The Great Drought Caper” (February 8, 1948)
    • “The Goldie Gates Caper” (February 15, 1948)
    • “The Mason Grayson Caper” (February 22, 1948)
    • “The Grim Reaper Caper” (February 29, 1948)
    • “John’s Other Wife’s Other Husband”(March 7, 1948)
    • “The Ides Of March Caper” (March 14, 1948)
    • “The Nightmare Town Caper” (March 21, 1948)
    • “The Blood Money Payoff” (March 28, 1948)
    • “Title Unknown” (April 4, 1948)
    • “The Judas Caper” (April 11, 1948)
    • “The Night Flight Caper” (April 18, 1948)
    • “The Great Lover Caper” (April 25, 1948)
    • “The Double-S Caper” (May 2 1948)
    • “The Curiosity Caper” (May 9, 1948)
    • “The Girl Called Echs Caper” (May 16, 1948)
    • “The Navarraise Falcon” (May 23, 1948)
    • “The Prisoner Of Zenda Caper” (May 30, 1948)
    • “The I.Q. Caper” (June 6, 1948)
    • “The Honest Cop Caper” (June 13, 1948)
    • “The Death Bed Caper” (June 20, 1948)
    • “The Bail Bond Caper” (June 27, 1948)
    • “The Rushlight Diamond Caper” (July 4, 1948)
    • “The Wheel Of Life Caper” (July 11, 1948)
    • “The Missing Newshawk Caper” (July 18, 1948)
    • “The Mad Scientist Caper” (July 25, 1948)
    • “The Dry Martini Caper” (August 1 1948)
    • “The Bluebeard Caper” (August 8, 1948)
    • “The Critical Author Caper” (August 15, 1948)
    • “The Bafio Cup Caper” (August 22, 1948; possibly “Vafio”)
    • “The Lawless Caper” (August 29, 1948)
    • “The Stella Starr Caper” (September 5, 1948)
    • “The Lazarus Caper” (September 12, 1948)
    • “The Hot 100 Grand Caper” (September 19, 1948)
    • “The Dick Foley Caper” (September 26, 1948)
    • “The Sugar Kane Caper” (October 3, 1948)
    • “The Bostwick Snatch Caper” (October 10, 1948)
    • “The Rumanian Con Game Caper” (October 17, 1948)
    • “The Insomnia Caper” (October 24, 1948)
    • “The Fairley-Bright Caper” (October 31, 1948)
    • “The S.Q.P. Caper” (November 7, 1948)
    • “The Gin Rummy Caper” (November 14, 1948)
    • “The Golden Fleece Caper” (November 21, 1948)
    • “The Quarter-Eagle Caper” (November 28, 1948)
    • “The Neveroff Masterpiece Caper” (December 5, 1948)
    • “The Bouncing Betty Caper” (December 12, 1948)
    • “The Giveaway Caper” (December 19, 1948)
    • “The Nick Saint Caper” (December 26, 1948)
    • “The Three-Sided Bullet Caper” (January 2 1949)
    • “The Double Negative Caper” (January 9, 1949)
    • “The Betrayal In Bumpus Hell Caper” (January 16, 1949)
    • “The Main Event Caper” (January 23, 1949)
    • “The Double Life Caper” (January 30, 1949)
    • “The Firebug Caper” (February 6, 1949)
    • “The Brothers Keeper Caper” (February 13, 1949)
    • “The Attitude Caper” (February 20, 1949)
    • “The Three Cornered Frame Caper” (February 27, 1949)
    • “The Waltzing Matilda Caper” (March 6, 1949)
    • “The Underseal Caper” (March 13, 1949)
    • “The Trojan Horse Caper” (March 20, 1949)
    • “The Loveletter Caper” (March 27, 1949)
    • “The Vacation Caper” (April 3, 1949)
    • “The Stopped Watch Caper” (April 10, 1949)
    • “Edith Hamilton” (April 17, 1949)
    • “The Hot Cargo Caper” (April 24, 1949)
    • “The Battles Of Belvedere” (May 1 1949)
    • “The Fast Talk Caper” (May 8, 1949; aka “The Corpse In The Murphy Bed”)
    • “The Darling Daughter Caper” (May 15, 1949)
    • “The Cartwright Clip Caper” (May 22, 1949)
    • “The Jane Doe Caper” (May 29, 1949)
    • “The Overjord Caper” (June 5, 1949; aka “The Corpse In The Murphy Bed)
    • “Sam And The Guiana Sovereign” (June 12, 1949)
    • “The Apple Of Eve Caper” (June 19, 1949)
    • “The Goat’s Milk Caper” (June 26, 1949)
    • “The Hamburger Sandwich Caper” (July 3, 1949)
    • “The Queen Bee Caper” (July 10, 1949)
    • “The Cuttyhunk Caper” (July 17, 1949)
    • “The Tears Of Night Caper” (July 24, 1949)
    • “The Hot-Foot Caper” (July 31, 1949)
    • “The Champion Caper” (August 7, 1949)
    • “The Sourdough Mountain Caper” (August 14, 1949)
    • “The Silver Key Caper” (August 21, 1949)
    • “The Prodigal Daughter Caper” (August 28, 1949)
    • “The Flashback Caper” (September 4, 1949)
    • “The Costume Caper” (September 11, 1949)
    • “Over My Dead Body Caper” (September 18, 1949)
    • “The Chargogagogmanchogagogchabunamungamog Caper” (September 25, 1949)
    (1946-62, CBS)
    30 minute episodes

    • “The House in Cypress Canyon”
      (December 5, 1946, CBS)
      60 minutes
      Based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Howard Duff as SAM SPADE
    • “The Kandy Tooth Caper” (January 10, 1948, CBS)
      “The Khandi Tooth Caper”
      (January 10, 1948)
      60 minutes
      Based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett
      Starring Howard Duff as SAM SPADE
    (1949-50, NBC)
    51 30-minute episodes
    Writers: Gil Doud, Bob Tellman
    Director/Producer: William Spier
    Sponsor: Wildroot Cream Oil
    Starring Howard Duff as SAM SPADE
    with Lurene Tuttle as Effie

    • “The Junior G-Man Caper” (October 2 1949)
    • “The Hot Hothouse Caper” (October 9, 1949)
    • “The Pretty Polly Caper” (October 16, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (October 23, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (October 30, 1949)
    • “The Cheesecake Caper” (November 6, 1949)
    • “The Blues In The Night Caper” (November 13, 1949)
    • “The Peacock Feather Caper” (November 20, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (November 27, 1949)
    • “The Floppsey, Moppsey and Cottontain Caper” (December 4, 1949)
    • “Title Unknown” (December 11, 1949)
    • “The Whispering Death Caper” (December 18, 1949)
    • “The Canterbury Christmas 7(December 25, 1949)
    • “The Gorgeous Gemini Caper” (January 1 1950)
    • “The Third Personville Caper” (January 8, 1950)
    • “The Phantom Witness Caper” (January 15, 1950)
    • “The Wedding Belle Caper” (January 22, 1950)
    • “The Too Many Leads Caper” (January 29, 1950)
    • “The Black Magic Caper” (February 5, 1950)
    • “The Crossword Puzzle Caper” (February 12, 1950)
    • “The Valentine’s Day Caper” (February 19, 1950)
    • “The Cornelius J. Morningside Caper” (February 26, 1950)
    • “The Homicidal Husband Caper” (March 5, 1950)
    • “The Barbary Ghost Caper” (March 12, 1950)
    • “The Emerald Eyes Caper” (March 19, 1950)
    • “The Bay Psalm Caper” (March 26, 1950)
    • “The Endurance Caper” (April 2 1950)
    • “The Picture Frame Caper” (April 9, 1950)
    • “The Kansas Kid Caper” (April 16, 1950)
    • “The Caldwell Caper” (April 23, 1950)
    • “The Hamite Curse Caper” (April 30, 1950)
    • “Caper With Marjorie’s Things” (May 7, 1950)
    • “The Prodigal Son Caper” (May 14, 1950)
    • “The Red Amapola Caper” (May 21, 1950)
    • “The Honest Thief Caper” (May 28, 1950)
    • “The V.I.P. Caper” (June 4, 1950)
    • “The Color Scheme Caper” (June 11, 1950)
    • “The Elmer Longtail Caper” (June 18, 1950)
    • “The Toytown Caper” (June 25, 1950)
    • “The Beryl Green Caper” (July 2 1950)
    • “The Runaway Redhead Caper” (July 9, 1950)
    • “The Man Who Knew Almost Everything Caper” (July 16, 1950)
    • “The Stormy Weather Caper” (July 23, 1950)
    • “The Rod And Reel Caper” (July 30, 1950)
    • “The Bell Of Solomon Caper” (August 6, 1950)
    • “The Missing Persons Caper” (August 13, 1950)
    • “The Preposterous Caper” (August 20, 1950)
    • “The Too Many Clients Caper” (August 27, 1950)
    • “The Farmer’s Daughter Caper” (September 3, 1950)
    • “The Big Little Woody Caper” (September 10, 1950)
    • “The Femme Fatale Caper” (September 17, 1950)
    (1950, NBC)
    13 episodes
    Writer: Peter Barry
    Director: Carlo De Angelo
    Produced by Lawrence White
    Sponsor: Wildroot Creme Oil
    Starring George Petrie as CHARLIE WILD

    • “Untitled” (September 24, 1950, NBC)
      In this first episode, Howard Duff makes a guest appearance as Sam Spade
    (1950-51, NBC)
    24 30-minute episodes
    Starring Steve Dunne as SAM SPADE
    with Lurene Tuttle as Effie

    • “Caper Over My Dead Body” (November 17, 1950)
    • “The Terrified Turkey Caper” (November 24, 1950)
    • “The Dog Bed Caper” (December 1 1950)
    • “The Dry Gulch” (December 8, 1950)
    • “The 251235679 Caper” (December 15, 1950)
    • “The Caper Concerning Big” (December 22, 1950)
    • “The Prodigal Panda Caper” (December 29, 1950)
    • “The Biddle Riddle Caper” (January 5, 1951)
    • “The Red Star Caper” (January 12, 1951)
    • “The Cloak And Dagger Caper” (January 19, 1951)
    • “The Chateau Mccloud Caper” (January 26, 1951)
    • “The String Of Death Caper” (February 2 1951)
    • “The Sure Thing Caper” (February 9, 1951)
    • “The Soap Opera Caper” (February 16, 1951)
    • “The Shot In The Dark Caper” (February 23, 1951)
    • “The Crab Louis Caper” (March 2, 1951)
    • “The Spanish Prisoner Caper” (March 9, 1951)
    • “The Sinister Siren Caper” (March 16, 1951)
    • “The Kimberley Cross Caper” (March 23, 1951)
    • “The Vendetta Caper” (March 30, 1951)
    • “The Denny Shane Caper” (April 6, 1951)
    • “The Civic Pride Caper” (April 13, 1951)
    • “The Rowdy Dowser Caper” (April 20, 1951)
    • “The Hail And Farewell Caper” (April 27, 1951)
    (1984, BBC Radio 4)
    Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
    Starring Tom Wilkinson as SAM SPADE
    Also starring Jane Lapotaire, Nickolas Grace
    (2009, Blackstone Audio)
    Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
    Produced by The Hollywood Theater of the Ear
    Starring Michael Madsen as SAM SPADE
    Sandra Oh as Brigid O’Shaughnessy
    and Edward Herrmann as Casper Gutman
    Grammy-nominated audio play,


    (1946, Feature Books #48, David McKay Publications)
    Artist: Rodlow Willard
    Single page comic strips
    Appeared in newspapers, magazines, comic books.
    Artist: Lou Fine
    Tie-in with radio show The Adventures of Sam Spade, which Wildroot also sponsored.



  • MONSIEUR SPADE | Watch the trailer
    (2024, AMC+/Canal+)
    6 episodes
    Based on the character created by Dashiell Hammett
    Written by Scott Frank and Tom Fontana
    Directed by Scott Frank
    Executive producers: Clive Owen, Scott Frank, Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson, Teddy Schwarzman, Michael Heimler, Caroline Benjo, Barbara Letellier, Simon Arnal, Carole Scotta, Carlo Martinelli , David Helpern
    Starring Clive Owen as SAM SPADE
    Also starring Cara Bossom, Denis Ménochet, Louise Bourgoin, Chiara Mastroianni, Stanley Weber, Matthew Beard, Jonathan Zaccaï, Rebecca Root


  • The Maltese Falcon Statuette (Replica) | Buy it!
    2008, Haunted Studios
    This deluxe, full-size replica of the 1941 Maltese Falcon Prop Statue, cast in reinforced, hardened resin. stands 12 inches tall, weighs in at a hefty thirteen pounds, and comes in optional exclusive gift packaging, wrapped in Chinese newspapers and bound with twine in Captain Jacobi’s La Paloma burlap sea bag, and comes complete with a personalized Certificate of Authenticity. Sure, at somewhere around $180 or so, it’s a little pricey, but considering one of two dinguses actually made for the movie — and the only one known to have appeared on film — sold at auction in November 2013 for four million bucks, you might call this a bargain.


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Jim Doherty for the scoop on the Maltese Falcon radio sequel, Steve Tussel, who runs Detective Fiction on Stamps for (what else?) the stamp of approval, Matthew Hirsch for letting me in on whodunit and Norma Cooper for not letting me get lost in the Sea of Cortez.

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