Re: RARA-AVIS: two questions
30 Aug 99 11:07:00 -0400

Re NHT's recent query"

"2) I recently Red Harvest, somewhere in there, the protagonist uses the words 'burning Fatimas' to refer to smoking. Does this refer to a specific brand of cigarette now defunct, or is it just slang?"

Fatima cigarettes were a popular brand through the '50s and '60. When the hard-boiled cop show, *Dragnet*, first started on radio, it was sponsored by
"Fatima Cigarettes, best of all long cigarettes." It always seemed apprpriate to me that the Op, like (presumably) Joe Friday, smoked Fatimas.

"What in the wide, wide world of sports is the name of the main character in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse?"

Hammett just referred to him as "my sleuth" or "this sleuth of mine." Editors came to refer to him as the "Continental Op" because he was an operative of the Continental Detective Agency (a fictional analog for the Pinkerton Detective Agency).

In a TV movie adaptation of *The Dain Curse*, the character was given the name "Hamilton Nash," which is "Dashiell Hammett" spelled sideways. Sort of. James Coburn, an actor who bore a great physical resemblance to Hammett, was cast as the Op/Nash. Ironically, in the books, the Op is described as short and heavy-set, rather than tall and thin like Hammett, but the producers felt (correctly in my opinon) that the Op was basically Hammett's fictional alter ego, and decided to cast accordingly. - Jim Doherty

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