Sam Spade

Sam Spade

Sam Spade is a fictional character who is the protagonist of Dashiell Hammett's novel "The Maltese Falcon" (1930) and the various films and adaptations based on it, as well as in three lesser known short stories written by Hammett.

The novel, first published as a serial in the pulp magazine "Black Mask", is the only one that Spade appears in, yet the character is widely cited as the crystallizing figure in the development of the hard-boiled private detective genre – Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe, for instance, was strongly influenced by Hammett's Spade.

Spade was a departure from Hammett's nameless and less than glamorous detective, The Continental Op. Sam Spade combined several features of previous detectives, most notably his cold detachment, keen eye for detail, and unflinching determination to achieve his own justice. He is the man who has seen the wretched, the corrupt, the tawdry side of life but still retains his "tarnished idealism".


Sam Spade was a new character created specifically by Hammett for "The Maltese Falcon," he had not appeared in any of Hammett's previous short stories. Hammett says about him:

Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not — or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague — want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client. [ Introduction to "The Maltese Falcon" (1934 edition)] ]

For most people, the character is most closely associated with actor Humphrey Bogart, who played Spade in the third and most famous film version of "The Maltese Falcon". Although Bogart's hair was not dyed blond as called for in the novel, and was considered too small and dark for the role (and was even slighted for not playing the character as enough of a lecher), his portrayal of Spade turned out to be the archetypal private detective. His characterization has influenced "film noir" ever since.

Spade was played by Ricardo Cortez in the pre-Code first film version (1931). Despite being a critical and commercial success, an attempt to re-release the film in 1936 was denied approval by the Production Code Office due to the film's "lewd" content. Since Warner Bros. could not re-release the film, a second version was made. In "Satan Met a Lady" (1936), a light comedy, the central character was renamed "Ted Shane" and was played by Warren William. The film was a notable flop.

On the radio, Sam Spade was played by Bogart in a 1943 "Screen Guild Theater" production and a 1946 "Academy Award Theater" production. He was also played by Edward G. Robinson in a 1943 "Lux Radio Theatre" production. A 1946-1951 radio show called the "The Adventures of Sam Spade" (on ABC, CBS, and NBC) starred Howard Duff (and later Steve Dunne) as "Sam Spade" and Lurene Tuttle as Spade's devoted secretary "Effie Perrine", and took a considerably more tongue-in-cheek approach to the character.

George Segal played Sam Spade, Jr., son of the original, in the film spoof, "The Black Bird" (1975). "The Black Bird" was panned by both critics and audiences alike.


* "The Maltese Falcon" (1930)
**Serialized in 5 parts, in the September 1929 to January 1930 issues of "Black Mask"
* "The Radio Adventures of Sam Spade" (2007) by Martin Grams, Jr., OTR Publishing, Churchville, Maryland. ISBN 978-0-9703310-7-6

hort stories

* "A Man Called Spade" (1932, "The American Magazine"; also collected in "A Man Named Spade and Other Stories")
* "Too Many Have Lived" (1932, "The American Magazine"; also collected 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")


* "A Man Named Spade and Other Stories" (1944) (contains three Sam Spade stories from "The American Magazine" -- listed above)


* "The Maltese Falcon" (1931, Warner Bros.) (also known as "Dangerous Female"), starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade
* "Satan Met a Lady" (1936, Warner Bros.) (based on "The Maltese Falcon", with the character names and the object of their search changed), starring Warren William as the Sam Spade character.
* "The Maltese Falcon" (1941, Warner Bros.), starring Humphrey Bogart
* "The Black Bird" (1975, Columbia), a comedy sequel to the 1941 film, starring George Segal as "Sammy" Spade, Jr.


* "Screen Guild Theater": "The Maltese Falcon" (1943, CBS - 30 minute version of the story, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre
* "Lux Radio Theatre": "The Maltese Falcon" (1943, CBS) - a 60 minute version of the novel, starring Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade and Laird Cregar as Casper Gutman
* "Academy Award Theatre": "The Maltese Falcon" (1946, CBS) - 30 minute version of the story, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sidney Greenstreet
* "Suspense": "The House in Cypress Canyon" (December 5, 1946, CBS) - 30 minutes, starring Howard Duff
* "Suspense": "The Kandy Tooth Caper" (January 10, 1948, CBS) - 60 minutes, starring Howard Duff
* "The Adventures of Sam Spade" (1946, ABC) - 13 30-minute episodes, starring Howard Duff
* "The Adventures of Sam Spade" (1946–1949, CBS) - 157 30-minute episodes, starring Howard Duff
* "The Adventures of Sam Spade" (1949–1950, NBC) - 51 30-minute episodes, starring Howard Duff
* "The Adventures of Sam Spade" (1950–1951, NBC) - 24 30-minute episodes, starring Steve Dunne
* "The Adventures of Babe Lincoln" (circa 1950, CBS) unaired, starring Howard Duff
* "Charlie Wild, Private Eye" (September 24, 1950, NBC) premiere broadcast only, guest appearance Howard Duff
* "BBC Radio 4": "The Maltese Falcon" (2001) - starring Tom Wilkinson, Jane Lapotaire and Nickolas Grace


* "The Maltese Falcon" (1946, Feature Books #48, David McKay Publications) Artist: Rodlow Willard
* Sam Spade Wildroot Hair Tonic Ads (1950's)
**Single page comic strips, appeared in newspapers, magazines, comic books. Tie-in with radio show "The Adventures of Sam Spade", which Wildroot also sponsored. Artist: Lou Fine.
* Volume 21 of the manga Detective Conan contains a profile summary of Sam Spade in Gosho Aoyama Mystery LIbrary.

References in popular culture

* In the television series "Without a Trace", Poppy Montgomery plays the role of an FBI agent named Samantha "Sam" Spade
* In the children's show "Between the Lions", there is a character called "Sam Spud", an anthropomorphic potato who types out voice-over narrations typical of film noir, making and correcting typographical errors that demonstrate word sounds.
* In the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, one of Calvin's alter egos is a 1940s-era private detective named Tracer Bullet, who looks, acts, and speaks like Sam Spade.
* In the segment of The Animatrix A Detective Story, the story's protagonist mentions Spade in the beginning of the short film.
* The 1976 comedic parody Murder by Death starred Peter Falk as Sam Diamond, a take-off on Spade's hard-boiled detective archetype.
* In the graphic short story, "Babes and Bullets," in the book, (and in the animated television special based on it), Garfield is the hard-boiled detective, Sam Spayed.
*In the game Curse of Monkey Island, the main character quotes Sam Spade's last line in The Maltese Falcon by looking at a statue of a falcon and saying: "It's the stuff that really boring dreams are made of".
*In Umberto Eco's novel Foucault's Pendulum, Spade is mentioned several times.
*Sam Spade appears as a member of The Secret Society of Detectives in the DC graphic novel Detective No. 27, alongside The Shadow and The Crimson Avenger
*In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "The Maltese Hamster" Donatello impersonates Sam Spade. The storyline is loosely based on the movie Maltese Falcon.


External links

* [ Thrilling Detective Website]
* [ Article "Sam Spade: The Radio Series by Martin Grams, Jr.]

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