Two or three emails back the noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook mentioned to me that Hammett had gone to France during the Great War.
I told him, not as far as I know.
But now there’s some evidence for his idea — if you can call a newspaper article evidence.
Evan Lewis used newsprint from 1939 on his blog today, and alongside mentioning the trip to France, Hammett tells reporter Willa Gray Martin that he likes to kill off characters that bore him, and refers to a recent dustup with Tallulah Bankhead.
Without checking into it, I think Evan has located an otherwise “lost” interview with Hammett. Not a major interview, but it’s got some info worth pondering over. Every scrap interesting, of course.
I wonder if the reporter just got the info about France wrong — or it is entirely possible that Hammett told her he was shipped overseas. That era, 1939, with war drums beating in the distance, he might have thought it sounded good.
And by the way, in recent months Evan has been tossing up various newspaper articles on his blog — search under Hammett Herald-Tribune. Some center on specific Thin Man movies, selected topics. I haven’t bothered to mention most of them, although I do try to keep current cross-reference to any actual stories reprinted in the papers.
This interview, however, definitely worth a look.