The sci-fi world of “Minority Report” is impeccable, and both Speilberg and his screenwriters Scott Frank and Jon Cohen constructed a detailed world of targeted holographic advertising, out-patient organ transplants, driverless cars that can climb walls, and mechanical crime spiders that can infiltrate locked apartments to scan people’s eyeballs. These details, however, were incidental to Spielberg, mere pieces of the background. The story was more important to the filmmaker, and he revealed that he watched some of his favorite old detective movies as inspiration. He said: 

“I had John Huston in my ear on ‘Minority Report.’ I went back and looked at ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and [Howard] Hawks’ ‘The Big Sleep’ to see how some of those film noir mysteries were resolved. They didn’t dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t.’ They tried to keep you off-balance. They asked more questions than they could answer in those days.”

“The Maltese Falcon” was released in 1941, and starred Humphrey Bogart as Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, a P.I. who is hired to locate a femme fatale’s missing sister, but uncovers a plot surrounding a mysterious falcon statue coveted by a rogue’s gallery of ruffians. “The Big Sleep,” based on the celebrated Raymond Chandler novel, also stars Bogart, this time as Philip Marlowe, a detective who delves into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. 

It’s worth noting that the Pre-Cogs in “Minority Report” are named Agatha, Arthur, and Dashiell, presumably after mystery authors Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle (or perhaps Robert Arthur, Jr.), and Dashiell Hammett. Spielberg’s inspirations are revealed right on the surface.

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