RARA-AVIS: RE: Hammett and Kurosawa

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 19 Apr 2000

Read the Hammett article, and noticed that it repeated as fact, a claim I've seen at times in discussions here, namely that Kurosawa got his idea for Yojimbo from Red Harvest.

I do see some similarities, but I sure see some big differences too. Who of the Kurosawa or Hammett biographers has made this claim and what basis did he or she give? I'd like something more substantial than similarities.

Thanks. Apologies if this has been answered before and I have forgotten. Sometimes I wonder whether I should eat a peach.

Bill Hagen

I'm not sure who, if any, of the Hammett biographers made the claim. Kurosawa denied the Hammett connection, just as Leone denied that "Fistful of Dollars" was inspired by "Yojimbo." But the films' plots speak for themselves. This is not to say that Kurosawa was stonewalling. Quite often in the course of making a movie the question of who-contributed-what is impossible to recall. Had he or his co-writer Ryuzo Kikushima read Hammett decades before? Had they seen a review or synopsis of the plot of "Red Harvest" or overheard someone describing the setup?" For whatever reason, the 1961 movie has a story outline that very closely resembles a fiction work that had been available since 1927. To my mind, the similarities are substantial enough to justify the claim. Dick Lochte

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