Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Overlooked Films: THE FAT MAN (1951)


I read somewhere recently that the idea for The Fat Man radio series originated with Hammett's agent, and was pitched as Casper Gutman playing detective. As preposterous as that idea is, I have no reason to think it isn't true. Gutman was referred to as the Fat Man in The Maltese Falcon, and even had a chapter named after him. On the other hand, the character bears slightly more resemblance to the Continental Op, who also sometimes referred to himself as a fat man. The only thing that really makes sense is that it was a clever way to capitalize on the popularity of the Thin Man franchise, and pretend the character was really a creation of Hammett's. 

Anyway, Universal made a movie of it, and while this isn't the worst film ever made, neither was it good enough to spawn After The Fat Man, or Another Fat Man, or The Fat Man Goes Home, or Shadow of the Fat Man, or even Song of the Fat Man. Oh well. You should watch it anyway. Did you know Julie London once recorded a sultry version of "Louie, Louie"? You didn't? See below.  








More Overlooked Films at Sweet Freedom

9 comments:

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I love Hammett but have somehow managed to give this one a miss over the years ... as you say, the title is a bit of an obvious variation! I do like the idea of a 'fat' alternative to the Nick and Nora adventures though ...

Bill Crider said...

When I was a kid, I loved The Fat Man on radio. I loved J. Scott Smart's delivery. Sadly, very few of the radio shows were preserved. Anyway, I saw the movie in the theater and liked it a lot. Hey, I was just a little kid. I wrote a little about the radio show here: http://billcrider.blogspot.com/2005/05/dashiell-hammetts-fat-man.html

Anonymous said...

Any characters named "Jake" in the movie??? ~ Fleet Commander Johnson PWITCC, rtr.

Evan Lewis said...

Yes, there was a Jake, but they couldn't name him for fear of future copyright infringement.

Anonymous said...

Jim Harmon's book "The Great Radio Heroes" said that The Fat Man was created to, as you say, capitalize on the Thin Man franchise. Also, that Hammett had little to do with it, beyond allowing them to use his name in the credits.

Harmon also speculated that the Fat Man might be the Continental Op. My impression, though, was that Brad Runyon owned his own one-man detective agency, while the Op was an employee at Continental. Of course, he could have quit the job and started his own business (as Joe Mannix would later do on TV).

Besides being fat, the character didn't really have that much in common with Casper Gutman. Gutman seemed like a patrician intellectual. The Fat Man seemed to have more in common with the tough guys like Mike Hammer, Race Williams, and Dan Turner.

And I think Rock Hudson may have played the "Jake"-type character in the movie.

Anonymous said...

Still one of the great movie trivia questions, "Name a movie starring Rock Hudson & Emmett Kelly." On radio, I found Smart's distinctive, peculiar cadence in delivering lines annoying.

Art Scott

Bill Crider said...

As I said above, Art, I really liked his delivery. I was just a little shaver, though, and didn't know any better. The thing is, I still enjoy it.

Shay said...

I'll have to watch it just for Julie London.

Anonymous said...

Catch Julie London on reruns of Emergency! on METV (if they have it on your cable or local secondary channels.) ~ Fleet Commander Johnson PWITCC, rtr.