Re: RARA-AVIS: is Yojimbo really Red Harvest?

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 09 Jan 2006

> I'm currently reading the new edition of The Samurai Film by Alain
> Silver (who has also written and/or edited numerous books on film noir).
> Here's what he says about the above question:
> It has been asserted, initially by David Desser and freqently since the
> release of Last Man Standing in 1996, that Yojimbo is an uncredited
> adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's1928 novel Red Harvest. The fact that
> Walter Hill was one of several directors to attempt an adaptation of the
> Hammett novel long before acquiring the rights to remake Yojimbo has
> muddied the waters. While there is a narrative resemblance between the
> Kurosawa and Hammett works in that a main character plays two corrupt
> factions against each other, there is not much else to connect them.
> Plot points cross-over from fiction and between films and one
> writer/director may inspire another -- for example the plot point of a
> police detective who loses his gun drives both Kurosawa's Stray Dog and
> Walter Hill's 48 Hours, butbthat hardly makes one an uncredited
> adaptation of the other.

That's exactly my take. Having studied Kurosawa's life and career with great thoroughness over the years, and being no stranger either to Hammett's work or, for that matter, Walter Hill's, I've never felt that there was anything more connecting the two works than a mere plot device. They don't seem related beyond that to me at all, and I can find nothing in Kurosawa's work or writings or interviews even to suggest a direct connection.

Jim Beaver

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