David Mamet

It's an undisputed fact that few playwrights make it big in Hollywood. There are exceptions, of course: Arthur Miller didn't do too badly (after all, he married Marilyn Monroe), and Harold Pinter has made a tidy sum writing scripts for the studios.

But no one can claim to have made the transition from stage to screen as perfectly as David Mamet, whose credits include scripts for "The Postman always Rings Twice", "The Untouchables", "Glengarry Glen Ross", and an early draft of "Hannibal".

He's also written and directed eight films, including "House of Games" (1987), "Things Change" (1988), "Homicide" (1991), "The Spanish Prisoner" (1997), "State and Main" (2000), and now "Heist".

But what is it that makes his work so recognizable?

Mamet's favourite genre is the crime film. He's fascinated by the speech patterns of gangsters. Forget Quentin Tarantino, Mamet is the mother******* master of combining black humour with hard-boiled movie speak. Want proof? Try these...

"I'm from the United States of Kiss my Ass!" "House of Games"

"He pulls a knife, you pull a gun; he puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue." "The Untouchables"

"Why did the chicken cross the road? Because the road crossed the chicken." "Heist"

When they're not spouting this clever-clever dialogue, Mamet's characters spend their time stabbing each other in the back. The double-cross (and sometimes the double-triple-quadruple cross) has become one of Mamet's trademarks. Films like "House of Games", "The Spanish Prisoner", and "Heist" all feature complicated pieces of treachery that leave audiences desperately trying to work out who did what to whom.

Profanity and plot twists were never so much fun.

"Heist" opens in UK cinemas on Friday 23rd November 2001.