Hot off the raging success of his Netflix sports drama series The Queen’s Gambit, Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Minority Report) has announced his newest television project, a limited series featuring private detective Sam Spade, the hard-boiled creation of noir novelist Dashiell Hammett (The Glass Key, Red Harvest), ScreenRant reports.
In a recent interview on the podcast The Watch, Frank discussed the idea he had for the potential mystery series: “What if you do Sam Spade later in life, when he’s sixty years old? He’s now an ex-pat living in the south of France. He’d gone over there to help some woman professionally, fallen in love with her. She died of cancer, he inherited her winery, and now he’s living in Bozouls… It’s 1963, the end of the Algerian War. There’s all this kind of Muslim sociopolitical stuff happening… [Spade’s] daughter lives in a convent nearby, and he doesn’t even know if she’s his daughter or not. His past finds him in this little town.” Frank has allegedly been working on a pilot for this project with Emmy winner Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street). “We’re doing six episodes,” Frank promised, via The Watch. Listen to the entire interview below.
Frank’s concept follows in the tradition of adaptations of the Philip Marlowe mystery novels written by Raymond Chandler (The Blue Dahlia, The Simple Art of Murder). The 1969 film Marlowe, Robert Altman’s 1973 neo-noir classic The Long Goodbye and the 1978 re-interpretation of The Big Sleep all place the detective in a time period that his creator never lived to see, in a similar fashion as Frank’s prospective series. Hammett passed away in 1961. The three films use Chandler’s novels as source material, whereas Frank’s Sam Spade series will place Hammett’s character at the center of a new story.
If Frank and Fontana were to move forward with this Sam Spade series, it would denote the character’s first authorized small-screen appearance in his entire ninety-year history. The last official Hammett adaptation was reportedly in 2002, via the film No Good Deed. Two-time Academy Award winner Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, The Last Emperor) reportedly wrote multiple drafts of a screenplay for an adaptation of Hammett’s 1929 gangland novel Red Harvest, but it was never filmed, according to Salon. In the 1990s, Bertolucci had allegedly been one of the directors attached to a feature film adaptation of Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel The Queen’s Gambit, Games Radar reports.
Towards the end of his interview on The Watch, Frank confirmed that, in addition to his Sam Spade limited series, he is developing a couple of adaptations of popular novels. He is working on a screenplay based on Mary Doria Russell’s religious science fiction story The Sparrow, and has reportedly attached Johan Renck (Chernobyl, Breaking Bad) to direct.
Frank confided to The Watch that he is writing a postmodern adaptation of the 1932 Vladimir Nabokov novel Laughter in the Dark, which will allegedly see him reunite with The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy.