Re: RARA-AVIS: My last point on that topic, plus Hammett and Westlake

Date: 23 Feb 2009

  • Next message: Brian Thornton: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Red Harvest"

    Yes, The Glass Key. Don't know what I was thinking.

    Thanks Brian.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Brian Thornton
      Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 11:59 AM
      Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: My last point on that topic, plus Hammett and Westlake

      Kerry Wrote:

      "I think similarities between Red Harvest and Miller's Crossing have been
      mentioned here before. Do I have that right?"

      Nope. You're thinking of THE GLASS KEY, not RED HARVEST. RED HARVEST was
      inspiration for one of Kirasawa's films (the title escapes, but it might
      have been RAN), and by extension, of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. A more direct
      screen adaptation of RED HARVEST would be LAST MAN STANDING, starring Bruce

      The Coen Brothers took THE GLASS KEY and tweaked it pretty hard (the
      political boss becomes more of an outright gangster, the central character,
      one of his "fixers" becomes less important in the final mix, etc.), but
      leaving the existing relationships pretty much intact, as well as the time
      period and setting. It's worth watching, but really not a very faithful

      For a better cinematic take on THE GLASS KEY, take a look at the 1942 Stuart
      Heisler film of the same name. It's truly one of the great hard-boiled
      films out there, with pitch-perfect casting. Brian Donlevy is worth the
      time alone in his terrific portrayal of political boss and all-around hard
      guy Paul Madvig, Veronica Lake's wooden acting is perfect for the distant
      WASP heiress she plays, and Alan Ladd, as "Ed" (in the novel he's "Ned")
      Beaumont was never better. Throw in William Bendix as a decidedly unlovable
      thug, and you've got cinematic gold.

      All the Best-


      On Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 7:42 AM, <> wrote:

    > Thanks Mark. I had fun writing it, though another quick edit wouldn't
    > have hurt. I just found the rhetorical use of reality in a noir discussion,
    > uh, well (it is not to be said here.)
    > Coincidentally I too have just reread Red Harvest and am doing the same
    > with The Dain Curse, at the same time dipping into the local library's stock
    > of Starks for, believe it or not, light relief. I think similarities between
    > Red Harvest and Miller's Crossing have been mentioned here before. Do I have
    > that right?
    > Regardless, it's been decades since I read these and I have to say I'm
    > finding Hammett's vision of America extremely dystopian. My first readings
    > were probably more for entertainment than cultural insight. Not that I
    > should have expected otherwise after re-reading The Maltese Falcon a year or
    > so ago.
    > Best,
    > Kerry
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Mark D. Nevins
    > To: <>
    > Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 2:15 PM
    > Subject: RARA-AVIS: My last point on that topic, plus Hammett and Westlake
    > Ron C., I'm sorry if I didn't in fact interpret your last post as a gesture
    > of civility but, well, I really didn't. I don't need to speak with you
    > off-List about it, thanks anyway.
    > Kerry, I appreciated your ONIONesque satirical effort.
    > All, I'm sorry if my last message was inappropriate. I am generally a
    > lurker on this List, and I tremendously appreciate all of the wisdom and
    > advice on offer here. I take copious notes on the reviews and
    > recommendations; I admit I cringe at some of the bickering, flaming, and
    > redundant semantic arguing; and I am apparently unable to restrain myself
    > when I come across what I perceive to be sweeping generalizations and
    > examples of prejudice, one example of which is the occasional anti-academic
    > cliche which seems to have no place in a group like this one.
    > In other news, I recently finished RED HARVEST, Hammett's first novel and
    > the first in my project to (re-)read all of his novels in order. I
    > understand that this book is a cobbling-together of several BLACK MASK short
    > stories--and I expect eventually to go back and read those (are they easily
    > found in a collection?). As such, there are some bumps in the narrative
    > road, and a lot of characters come and go (emphasis on "go," where I mean
    > "for good"), but ultimately this novel seems to me to be some kind of
    > masterpiece of violence and cynical social commentary in addition to a
    > cracking good read. I appreciate that RED HARVEST is also a cornerstone of
    > the "cleaning up the corrupt town" genre that ranges from the spaghetti
    > Western to the films of Kurosawa. (I wonder what work gets to claim to be
    > the first in the genre. BEOWULF?) This was my first time reading RED
    > HARVEST, and I loved it, especially the lean and tough dialogue and the
    > incredible sense of
    > time and place Hammett creates in "Poisonville" California. I also now know
    > where the Coen Brothers got the title of their film BLOOD SIMPLE, and what
    > it means! I'm looking forward to THE DAIN CURSE which is next in line.
    > As a bit of a palate-cleanser, I read right afterward Donald Westlake's THE
    > HOOK. I am planning to read one Westlake book a month this year, as an
    > homage to the Master. (January was THE AX.) THE HOOK is a delightfully nasty
    > little piece of candy: a satire on the publishing industry wrapped around a
    > Hitchcockian infernal bargain. The book moves quickly, with great details to
    > sketch out the NYC and CT locales, and it has one of the most brutal murder
    > scenes I have ever read, as well as a clever and nasty ending that is
    > perfectly timed to punch you in the gut just as you are halfway through the
    > last sentence of the book. I really liked this one. Westlake makes it all
    > look so effortless.
    > Best,
    > Mark Nevins
    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 23 Feb 2009 EST