Hammett: And Chandler, and Nigel, Bill and Don

Bill and Nigel and Don

Slightly over twenty people did the “just show up and walk the walk” routine for the tour yesterday. I always think of twenty as being the average number of tourists gumshoeing the mean streets on the walk over the years, though I have done groups in the thirties and forties and one time seventy-eight people were waiting for me. Of course, if only one or two people show up, the tour goes on.

One guy mentioned that he had taken the tour before — in 1992. Another mentioned that he’d been thinking about taking it for decades. This guy was a film buff, and the only one out of the crowd to know the name Dwight Frye (though, as I explain, pretty much everyone knows Dwight, they just don’t know they know Dwight). I gave the guy a little test to see how much he knew. He didn’t recognize the name Dominque Pinon off the cuff, but when I said “The clown in Delicatessen” naturally he knew Dominque. What film buff doesn’t?

And when I got back to my lair, I got another kickback to the days of yesteryear when Mark Murphy mentioned in an email that he’d just seen a BBC documentary on Raymond Chandler on YouTube — one that got more than willingly hijacked into also covering Hammett. You’ve got an interview with Hammett’s daughter. Bill Arney and I jump in on the action.

And if I remember right, there is a great sequence which shows Bill pulling out the Murphy bed in Sam Spade’s apartment which incorporates a clip of Fatty Arbuckle wrestling with a Murphy bed. In those days, Bill was holding down the shrine in 891 Post.

If you’ve got an hour or so, check it out — one of my all-time fave media appearances, out of many. Maybe because Bill and I spent a lot of time hanging out drinking with Nigel and the crew, and they knew how to drink.

Screen grab at top, left to right: Bill, Nigel, then me, at the parapet on top of the Stockton tunnel, where Spade stands looking down on the first murder scene in The Maltese Falcon.

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