Hammett: Two Sharp Knives on Early Television

Terry Zobeck has been investigating that 1949 TV show where Dashiell Hammett pulls a Hitchcock and delivers a couple of lines — to date, the only recording of Hammett’s voice to turn up.

“I watched Two Sharp Knives this afternoon,” Terry reports in, “and then re-read the story, which I hadn’t read in several years.

“It wasn’t bad for 1940s TV.

“They actually kept to the skeleton of the story and even used some of Hammett’s dialogue.

“I got a chuckle at how they tried to justify the title.

“There’s a brief scene where Scotty, the Police Chief, is shown drawing two sharp knives on a sheet of paper.

“No explanation.

“Two sharp knives don’t enter into the teleplay in any other way.

“Since they had Hammett right there they could have asked him about it and he could have told them that the editor at Colliers screwed up and the title should have been ‘To a Sharp Knife.’

“They could have added that bit of dialogue about ‘to a sharp knife comes a tough steak’ to the end — since they did include that final scene of Scotty and Wally just like in the story.”

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