Motion Pictures based on Donald Hamilton novels:

Okay…I am going to mention the movies again.

Many correspondents have inquired about movies that were based on Donald Hamilton’s novels. Although I am not fond of the Dean Martin films, there were others that all Donald Hamilton fans should check out—especially The Big Country, a movie I would give ★ ★ ★ ★.

Here is a list of the movies I know about. If anyone is aware of others, let me know and I will include them.

The Violent Men, 1955, with Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, based on Smoky Valley. Also known as Rough Company (UK) and The Bandits (USA).

Five Steps to Danger, 1957, with Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden, based on The Steel Mirror.

The Big Country, 1958, with Gregory Peck, Burl Ives, and Charlton Heston, based on The Big Country. Burl Ives won an Oscar for his performance in this movie.

The Silencers, 1966, with Dean Martin as Matt Helm, based very loosely on The Silencers and Death of a Citizen.

Murderers’ Row, 1966, with Dean Martin as Matt Helm, based very loosely on Murderers’ Row.

The Ambushers, 1967, with Dean Martin as Matt Helm, based very loosely on The Ambushers.

The Wrecking Crew, 1969, with Dean Martin as Matt Helm, based very loosely on The Wrecking Crew.

In 2001, the following announcement was posted around the world wide web and, as best we can determine, it is the truth:

"HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - DreamWorks has optioned a series of 27 novels by Donald Hamilton about debonair spy Matt Helm.

Australian director Robert Luketic, whose debut feature ``Legally Blonde'' became a sleeper hit last summer, is attached to the project. DreamWorks paid close to seven figures for the series, beating other suitors, including Paramount.

Several Matt Helm books were adapted for the big screen in the 1960s as vehicles for Dean Martin. Those involved with the new incarnation say it will differ from the Martin pictures, which were kitschy, proto-''Austin Powers'' spy spoofs. In fact, the Austin Powers pictures contain several direct references to Martin's portrayal of Helm.

TV series ``Matt Helm'' had a three-month run on ABC in 1975. Hamilton, 85, was born in Sweden to an aristocratic family. He emigrated to the U.S. as a child and spent much of his life here, but now lives in Spain, where he and his family restore boats. The Helm books were published as pulpy paperbacks from 1960 to 1993.

Reuters/Variety REUTERS"

From what we have learned, the movie makers are planning to portray the Matt Helm character in a manner much closer to the character in the novels--not like the Dean Martin version--and place him in the modern world. (My hope is that he will not be the "debonair spy" the announcement above refers to, since the Matt Helm we know and love is neither debonair nor spy.) Since its announcement, however, there has not been much additional information about the movie.


Matt Helm ™ is the property of Donald Hamilton.
and is a Trademark of Integute AB
This independent reference to, and appreciation of, the Matt Helm book series
is copyright © 1998-2012 - Don Winans
Originally posted in March 2006 - Last Modified 05 March 2008
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