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Over the next 20 years, rumors would surface, submerge and surface again about filmmakers who wanted to film "Red Harvest. James Bridges worked on a screenplay and was scheduled to direct, but the project was shelved in Why it fell through is still not known. The most publicized attempt involved Bernardo Bertolucci, who tried to kick-start "Red Harvest" with Jack Nicholson as the Op and Deborah Winger as the book's most prominent female character.

It never happened. In , in an interview for American Film magazine, Irish director Neil Jordan told me he was planning a film version of "Red Harvest" and that he and his friend, production designer Anton Furst, who had just won an Oscar for "Batman," had already scouted locations out West. Jordan's film never got off the ground. James Ellroy stated a desire to do a "Red Harvest" script, but today, 76 years after the novel's publication, there is still no film of "Red Harvest. Attempts to unravel the mystery have so far resisted all investigation, though one of the writers who is associated with an attempt to film the book and who asked to remain anonymous suggests this is not a mystery at all: Hellman and, after her death in , those who purchased the rights have simply demanded too much money.

Whatever the reason, "Red Harvest" remains unfilmed. Starting in , though, the "Red Harvest" saga may have taken a strange new turn.


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That year, Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" was released. The plot was almost elemental: A mysterious unnamed stranger carrying a samurai sword arrives in a town where two corrupt factions are warring. The film is set after a ruinous war that has destroyed all central authority; the only law and order in the town comes from the balance between two opposing factions, neither one quite strong enough to engage in open warfare against the other. The stranger hires out to both sides, playing both ends against the middle.

When the blood has congealed, both factions are destroyed and the stranger prevails.


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  • Several film critics over the years, beginning with Andrew Sarris, saw the parallels between the great American gangster novel and the great samurai film classic. Manny Farber stated flatly that "Yojimbo" was "a version of 'Red Harvest' -- a bowdlerized version. Donald Richie, perhaps the leading scholar on Kurosawa's work, said in a interview, "I think the similarity in themes is just coincidence. Kurosawa has always acknowledged his sources. If the similarities in plot between "Red Harvest" and "Yojimbo" are just a coincidence, then they are certainly an extraordinary coincidence.

    At the very least, both works share an obvious derivation from the themes of classic westerns, right up to the point where the hero, finding no moral barometer outside himself, sells his services to both sides. And it was most certainly not coincidence that the next time the theme popped up in a movie, the movie was a western. Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars," released in , was so obviously taken from "Yojimbo" that some critics noticed almost identical shot selection and camera angles. Certainly the plot was identical; a mysterious stranger, a man with no name, arrives in a town somewhere by the U.

    It's a no man's land, caught between two central authorities, the U. It wasn't the first time a western had been made from a Kurosawa film, or even the second. Those films, though, acknowledged their origin and were approved by Kurosawa.

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    Incredibly, Sergio Leone denied the similarities between his and Kurosawa's film. Kurosawa sued in an Italian court; after the case dragged on for a couple of years, he finally settled for a portion of the profits from "A Fistful of Dollars. Let's fast-forward to The stranger, played by Bruce Willis, hires out to both sides well, by now you know the story.

    The producers of "Last Man Standing" had obtained the rights to remake "Yojimbo" from Kurosawa's estate. In , while working on a story on "Last Man Standing" for the Newark Star-Ledger, a source at New Line Cinema, the film's distributor, told me that it had received a letter from United Artists saying, in effect, "'You are now on legal notice that you have no right to use the plot of 'A Fistful of Dollars. Their attitude was like 'Yojimbo' had never been made, let alone made first.

    We decided to ignore the letter and make our movie. Even more bizarre, though, was another letter New Line received from Grimaldi Productions -- the same Alberto Grimaldi who had purchased the rights to "Red Harvest. Someone from Grimaldi Productions said to me '"Yojimbo" practically is "Red Harvest" -- it's a samurai version of an American gangster novel. The Grimaldi representative said that to redo "Yojimbo" in a s American gangster setting without acknowledging "Red Harvest" was, according to New Line, "borderline dishonest. By Kurosawa in not acknowledging the influence of Dashiell Hammett?

    By Sergio Leone in not acknowledging his debt to Kurosawa? The matter was debated in a flurry of letters, but nothing came of it. When the smoke cleared, "Last Man Standing" was released, and the "Red Harvest" theme had come full circle to its gangster origins. But not before the "Red Harvest" story had branched off in two more directions. The first half of the film is a virtual post-apocalyptic remake of "Yojimbo.

    Max, played by Mel Gibson -- the man who would later talk about making "Red Harvest" -- arrives out of the wasteland to find "Bartertown" Hammett would have loved the name , a crude industrial oasis ruled by two warring factions: Tina Turner's Aunty Entity, who controls the business, and the Master, played by the dwarf Angelo Rossitto, whose workers fuel the engines for Bartertown. Thus capitalism confronts unionism in its crudest form.

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    Miller playfully acknowledges his inspirations. By cross-pollinating the two books, the Coens were able to conceal their sources. With "Deadwood," the "Red Harvest" theme comes back to its geographical roots, a Northwestern mining town in a no man's land. And so the theme initially inspired by a generation of western pulps and B movies comes back around to its origins. Whether Hammett's hellish vision ever makes it to the big screen, it at least appears that every generation will get the "Red Harvest" it deserves. Buy Now, Pay Later.

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    5 Seriously Scary Stories That Will Give You Nightmares ― Creepypasta Horror Story Compilation

    If you have an older Salon account, please enter your username and password below: sign in Forgot Password? Log Out. From "Red Harvest" to "Deadwood" How Dashiell Hammett's first and most important novel eluded film adaptation and still managed to find its way onto the big -- and small -- screen. Related Topics Books. Related Valerie Jarrett's leap of faith. Eve Ensler on men, MeToo and apologies.

    27 May 1894 - 10 Jan 1961

    Joy Reid: America can save itself. Judging from the return address on Eddy Street, where Hammett lived from to , it was likely written about or , when Hammett wrote six stories published in magazines other than Black Mask and introduced two new protagonists in stories told in the third person, as "The Hunter" is — Steve Threefall in "Nightmare Town" Argosy All-Story Weekly, December 27, and Guy Tharp in "Ruffian's Wife" Sunset, October The return address is Post Street, where Hammett lived from to In this typescript someone crossed out the first two paragraphs of the story.

    They have been restored here, because they provide the only mention of the billboard that gives the story its name and identify Pentner, who calls the police at the end. Lillian Hellman edited the story, and the first paragraphs seem to have been cut by her. Hellman's edits have been accepted only when they corrected clear typographical errors or undeniable infelicities. There is no known typescript.

    Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett, First Edition

    The story is told in the first person by a master criminal and was published while The Maltese Falcon was being serialized in Black Mask. DiMaggio was a star for the minor-league San Francisco Seals in and He was bought by the New York Yankees in , but sat out a season with a knee injury. When he played his first season for the Yankees in , he hit twenty-nine home runs; in , he had forty-six homers, the most in his career. A reasonable guess is that this story was written early in , after Hammett was released from the hospital in January and then spent the rest of the year recuperating in and around New York City.

    A so-called slice-of-life story, "Action and the Quiz Kid" is typical of Hammett's late interest in character as opposed to plot. There are people who, coming for the first time in contact with one they know for a detective, look at his feet.


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    These glances, at times mockingly frank, but more often furtive and somewhat scientific in purpose, are doubtless annoying to the detective whose feet are in the broad-toed tradition: Fred Vitt enjoyed them. His feet were small and he kept them neatly shod in the shiniest of blacks.

    He was a pale plump man with friendly light eyes and a red mouth. The fortunes of job-hunting not guided by definite vocational training had taken him into the employ of a private detective agency some ten years ago. He had stayed there, becoming a rather skillful operative, although by disposition not especially fitted for the work, much of which was distasteful to him.

    But he liked its irregular variety, the assurances of his own cleverness that come frequently to any but the most uniformly successless of detectives, and the occasional full-tilt chase after a fleeing someone who was, until a court had decided otherwise, a scoundrel of one sort or another. Too, a detective has a certain prestige in some social divisions, a matter in no way equalized by his lack of any standing at all in others, since he usually may either avoid these latter divisions or conceal his profession from them. Today Vitt was hunting a forger. The name of H.

    Twitchell — the Twitchell-Bocker Box Company — had been signed to a check for two hundred dollars, which had been endorsed Henry F. Weber and cashed at the bank. Vitt was in Twitchell's office now, talking to Twitchell, who had failed to remember anyone named Weber. The manufacturer of boxes squirmed. He was a large man whose face ballooned redly out of a too-tight collar. The one of yours that's most like this should lead me to the forger.

    It usually works out that way.