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becke_davis
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I was interested to see this in the Wikipedia bio:

 

"Time magazine included Hammett's 1929 novel Red Harvest on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005."

 

I know I've read this book - it's a Continental Op story - but I can't really remember it. Now I want to read it again!

 

Red Harvest  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's featured here:http://www.detnovel.com/RedHarvest.html

 

 Major Works: Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett

 

by William Marling,Ph.D. Professor of English, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

 

Red Harvest (1929) features the nameless detective employed by the Continental Detective Agency, and hence called the "Continental Op." Developed in Black Mask, he became an archetype in the genre. The novel's plot combines four short stories from that magazine, but they are not tightly linked. As the Op says, "Plans are all right sometimes. And sometimes just stirring things up is all right." 1 The "stir-it-up" approach prevails in Hammett's first novel, which emphasizes brilliant scenes, a traditional first-person narrator, dialogue that is funny, and action that is highly stylized, rather than plausible plotting or characterization.

The Op goes to "Poisonville," a mining town in Montana modeled on Anaconda or Butte, which is famously described as "an ugly city of forty thousand, set in an ugly notch between two ugly mountains" (4). Newspaper editor Donald Willsson has been killed, and the Op is hired by his father, Old Elihu Willsson, the mining and newspaper czar, to find the murderer and to clean up the town. Suspicion falls on young Willsson's foreign-born wife and then on Bill Quint, an affable, decayed, I. W. W. member. The Op soon learns that Old Elihu imported thugs to fight the union and that police chief Noonan is corrupt. To set crook against crook, he establishes a relationship with sultry, greedy Dinah Brand, who has scandalous information on everyone. Dinah is "a soiled dove … a de luxe hustler, a big league gold-digger" and one of Hammett's best characters. A shop-worn femme fatale, she cannot seduce the Op because he is too tight-fisted. But her allure caused Robert Albury, a jealous bank clerk, to kill young Willsson, another of her lovers, in the Op's solution to the initial crime.

The Op decides to stay and open "Poisonville up from Adam's apple to ankles" (60). First he unfixes a rigged boxing match, costing hoodlum Max "Whisper" Thaler his money and dividing him from Dinah, whom the Op tips off. In return she reveals that "Max" killed the police chief's brother years ago; her error -– it is "MacSwain," not "Max" – leads to the revealed plot of the novel's mid-section: that MacSwain's old girlfriend Myrtle Jennision covered up the murder for him.

In the novel's third section, Continental agents Foley and Linehan arrive to help the Op and to provide contrasting styles. Foley is large, loquacious, and lazy, whileLinehan is small, terse, and on-the-spot. The pace of the action becomes comically fast. While the Op goes with the police chief on a raid, destroying Pete the Finn's liquor, a new crook, Reno Starkey, overthrows crook Lew Yard. Finally the police chief asks for a peace conference.

"If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood simple like the natives," says the Op. "I've arranged a killing or two in my time, when they were necessary. But this is the first time I've ever got the fever" (142-3). He takes a drugged drink from Dinah and has two important dreams while unconscious. Hammett liked to insert such sequences two-thirds of the way through his novels; usually these "embedded plots" reveal the protagonist's psyche. The Op wakes to find Dinah dead beside him with an ice-pick in her breast. He gets an alibi from Reno Starkey, then feverishly plays off the criminals against each other. The police chief is killed by Max, who is wounded by consumptive "lunger" Dan Rolff (modeled on Hammett). The Op and Reno bomb Pete the Finn's warehouse, then kill the bootlegger as he surrenders. Dinah's murderer turns out to have been Reno, who nonetheless elicits the Op's admiration: "He meant to die as he had lived, inside the same tough shell" (197). The revealed plot of this section shows Dinah Brand to have been the mistress of several men, including Old Elihu Willsson.

Red Harvest is not notable for plotting or plausibility, but for the character of the Op, the cartoon-like carnage, and the brilliant style. Passages such as "We bumped over dead Hank O'Meara's legs and headed for home. We covered one block of the distance with safety if not comfort. After that we had neither" (182) compress action and black humor, often retrospectively. The dialogue contributes to the effect seamlessly: "Be still while I get up or I'll make an opening in your head for brains to leak in" (90). When the Op tells Dinah that she gets runs in her stockings because "Your legs are too big. They put too much strain on the material," the characters of both are revealed in succinct, humorous fashion (79). Like the joyous mayhem of a Road-runner cartoon, Red Harvest is an ironic consideration of the possibilities in repetitious violence. In hard-boiled fiction, such pervasive irony and Keystone comedy, delivered in muscular, action-packed prose, was genuinely new.

Critics originally discussed Red Harvest in terms of allegory. The Op is a quester and in several short monologues he expresses a code. (59-60, 62, 79, 109-11, 145, 198).

Like the heroes of grail romances, the Op visits an underworld (while drugged) in order to set affairs right in this world. His deity is his boss, "The Old Man," who will give him "merry hell" (199). French existentialists also liked the novel, perhaps taking it too seriously. Andre Gide said it was "the last word in atrocity, cynicism and horror… a remarkable achievement." 2 Later critical attention focussed on the "waste land" motifs. Some took the novel to be an allegory about organized labor, even arguing that it was a Marxist critique of capitalism. 3 Later the Op's epistemology was laid bare, and Old Elihu was seen as a version of George Hearst, the Montana mine-owner whose son William controlled California newspapers and politics in Hammett's day.4

 


 

1 Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (New York: Vintage, 1972), 79.2 Andre Gide, "American Writing Today: An Imaginary Interview," New Republic, February 7, 1944, 186. 3 Carl Freedman and Christopher Kendrick, "Forms of Labor in Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest,PMLA 106.2 (1991): 209-21. 4 Emphasis on epistemology in Sinda Gregory, Private Investigations: The Novels of Dashiell Hammett (Carbondale: University of Illinois Press, 1985). Prodigal son and New Historical readings in William Marling, The American Roman Noir (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995).


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maxcat
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

Great bio on Dashiell Hammett, Becke. It's interesting to note that he was an alcoholic and had TB. I love his books. Ones like the Thin Man, The Glass Key, The Maltese Falcon and the Dain Curse. I also loved The Maltese Falcon as a movie and also The Thin Man. I saw the original movie not long ago and it was excellent.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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becke_davis
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


maxcat wrote:

Great bio on Dashiell Hammett, Becke. It's interesting to note that he was an alcoholic and had TB. I love his books. Ones like the Thin Man, The Glass Key, The Maltese Falcon and the Dain Curse. I also loved The Maltese Falcon as a movie and also The Thin Man. I saw the original movie not long ago and it was excellent.


It's sad that he had so many problems in the last part of his life.

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dulcinea3
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

[ Edited ]

I was first aware of Hammett through the movies The Maltese Falcon and the Thin Man series (I have the boxed set of those, and they are so good!  I assume only the first one was based on Hammett's novel).  Years ago I read most of the novels, but it was so long ago I don't remember much about them.  Like Fricka, I also remember the miniseries of The Dain Curse, which starred James Coburn, as I recall; that was after I had read the novels.

 

My 5-in-1 volume of the novels was destroyed in the cat-pee incident (sounds like a mystery title!), but recently Becke has been good enough to start rebuilding my collection with Got Books!  I reread The Glass Key last year, and now I've read The Continental Op short story collection and am working on The Big Knockover, which is mostly Op stories, and the unfinished novel Tulip, which is supposedly of a completely different style and subject matter.  This also has an introduction by Lillian Hellman, which is heavily excerpted in the wikipedia articles Becke quoted.  I also have The Maltese Falcon, and the novel Hammett, which was mentioned in one of Becke's posts as featuring Hammett as the sleuth.  All of this is thanks to Becke - thanks!!!  I had never read the short stories before, and am enjoying them so much!  I also found that I have the only three Sam Spade short stories in another anthology that I have.  I'm hoping that for this monthly feature I can get through all the short stories.  I thought that it was interesting that in one of Becke's posts it says that Spade works outside the law, because the Op usually works very closely with the police.

 

He did lead an interesting life!  I thought the Op might have been based on himself, but I see from Becke's posts that he was apparently based on another operative that Hammett worked with.  There was an interesting story in the intros to both short story collections on how he came to leave the Pinkerton Agency.  Apparently, there was a ship that was arriving in San Francisco from Australia, and on the way some gold it was carrying disappeared.  Hammett was assigned to the case, and he and another operative searched the ship, interviewed the crew, etc., but couldn't find the gold.  Because it was believed to be still on the ship, Hammett was assigned to sail on it back to Australia and hopefully solve the case on the way.  Australia was the one place he had always wanted to visit, and so he was all packed and ready to go.  They decided to search the ship one more time before it departed, and this time they found the gold in a smokestack (where it had not been before).  As a result, Hammett didn't get to go to Australia, and quit that afternoon.  Sounds like fictional story itself!

 

A few years later, he was having hemorrhaging from the tuberculosis, and thought he only had months left to live.  He left his wife and daughters, moved to a place by himself, and started writing.  As it turned out, the hemorrhaging eventually stopped, and he lived for years more afterwards.  It seemed very odd that he was accepted into the military in WWII, since he had tuberculosis scars on his lungs; by the end of that war, he had emphysema.

 

According to Hellman, Hammett actually did not even know the names of the contributors to the bail fund, but wouldn't testify that, and only refused to give names.  She didn't really understand why he didn't just say he didn't know and keep himself out of jail.  She also says that he quit drinking in 1948 when he was very ill and the doctor told him that he would be dead in a few months if he continued.  The doctor didn't believe he was capable of quitting, but he did.

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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


dulcinea3 wrote:

I was first aware of Hammett through the movies The Maltese Falcon and the Thin Man series (I have the boxed set of those, and they are so good!  I assume only the first one was based on Hammett's novel).  Years ago I read most of the novels, but it was so long ago I don't remember much about them.  Like Fricka, I also remember the miniseries of The Dain Curse, which starred James Coburn, as I recall; that was after I had read the novels.

 

My 5-in-1 volume of the novels was destroyed in the cat-pee incident (sounds like a mystery title!), but recently Becke has been good enough to start rebuilding my collection with Got Books!  I reread The Glass Key last year, and now I've read The Continental Op short story collection and am working on The Big Knockover, which is mostly Op stories, and the unfinished novel Tulip, which is supposedly of a completely different style and subject matter.  This also has an introduction by Lillian Hellman, which is heavily excerpted in the wikipedia articles Becke quoted.  I also have The Maltese Falcon, and the novel Hammett, which was mentioned in one of Becke's posts as featuring Hammett as the sleuth.  All of this is thanks to Becke - thanks!!!  I had never read the short stories before, and am enjoying them so much!  I also found that I have the only three Sam Spade short stories in another anthology that I have.  I'm hoping that for this monthly feature I can get through all the short stories.  I thought that it was interesting that in one of Becke's posts it says that Spade works outside the law, because the Op usually works very closely with the police.

 

He did lead an interesting life!  I thought the Op might have been based on himself, but I see from Becke's posts that he was apparently based on another operative that Hammett worked with.  There was an interesting story in the intros to both short story collections on how he came to leave the Pinkerton Agency.  Apparently, there was a ship that was arriving in San Francisco from Australia, and on the way some gold it was carrying disappeared.  Hammett was assigned to the case, and he and another operative searched the ship, interviewed the crew, etc., but couldn't find the gold.  Because it was believed to be still on the ship, Hammett was assigned to sail on it back to Australia and hopefully solve the case on the way.  Australia was the one place he had always wanted to visit, and so he was all packed and ready to go.  They decided to search the ship one more time before it departed, and this time they found the gold in a smokestack (where it had not been before).  As a result, Hammett didn't get to go to Australia, and quit that afternoon.  Sounds like fictional story itself!

 

A few years later, he was having hemorrhaging from the tuberculosis, and thought he only had months left to live.  He left his wife and daughters, moved to a place by himself, and started writing.  As it turned out, the hemorrhaging eventually stopped, and he lived for years more afterwards.  It seemed very odd that he was accepted into the military in WWII, since he had tuberculosis scars on his lungs; by the end of that war, he had emphysema.

 

According to Hellman, Hammett actually did not even know the names of the contributors to the bail fund, but wouldn't testify that, and only refused to give names.  She didn't really understand why he didn't just say he didn't know and keep himself out of jail.  She also says that he quit drinking in 1948 when he was very ill and the doctor told him that he would be dead in a few months if he continued.  The doctor didn't believe he was capable of quitting, but he did.


He must have been a really fascinating person! His fame certainly didn't make his life any easier, did it?

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eadieburke
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I had a very busy weekend and just finished THE MALTESE FALCON last night. I have watched the movie before but now I need to see it again. The book gives you detail descriptions of all the characters and pretty much every move they made. I watched one of the videos about The Maltese Falcon and the script was taken right from the book and the actors were able to follow the story literally move by move! That really fascinated me to think that he took the time to be so detailed!

 

I will definitely be reading more of his stories. He was certainly a very talented author. It is very sad that he had such an alcoholic problem. Reminded me of Craig Rice. So many talented people seem to suffer from personality disorders - they lead such troubled lives and are some times not given the credit due them!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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becke_davis
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


eadieburke wrote:

I had a very busy weekend and just finished THE MALTESE FALCON last night. I have watched the movie before but now I need to see it again. The book gives you detail descriptions of all the characters and pretty much every move they made. I watched one of the videos about The Maltese Falcon and the script was taken right from the book and the actors were able to follow the story literally move by move! That really fascinated me to think that he took the time to be so detailed!

 

I will definitely be reading more of his stories. He was certainly a very talented author. It is very sad that he had such an alcoholic problem. Reminded me of Craig Rice. So many talented people seem to suffer from personality disorders - they lead such troubled lives and are some times not given the credit due them!


It's funny, I love classic movies but The Maltese Falcon never made a very big impact on me. I LOVED The Thin Man series - I wonder what Hammett thought of those movies. I'm sure they brought him a decent income, but they took on a life of their own unrelated to the original book.

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eadieburke
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


becke_davis wrote:

eadieburke wrote:

I had a very busy weekend and just finished THE MALTESE FALCON last night. I have watched the movie before but now I need to see it again. The book gives you detail descriptions of all the characters and pretty much every move they made. I watched one of the videos about The Maltese Falcon and the script was taken right from the book and the actors were able to follow the story literally move by move! That really fascinated me to think that he took the time to be so detailed!

 

I will definitely be reading more of his stories. He was certainly a very talented author. It is very sad that he had such an alcoholic problem. Reminded me of Craig Rice. So many talented people seem to suffer from personality disorders - they lead such troubled lives and are some times not given the credit due them!


It's funny, I love classic movies but The Maltese Falcon never made a very big impact on me. I LOVED The Thin Man series - I wonder what Hammett thought of those movies. I'm sure they brought him a decent income, but they took on a life of their own unrelated to the original book.


I have watched The Thin Man too but I think I'll rewatch some of those too! I'm sure he loved the income!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
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maxcat
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I will have to check out Hammett's Continental Op series. I've never heard of it until now and would be interested in reading some. Do you read them in order?

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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dulcinea3
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I don't think you need to read the Continental Op books in order, although in The Continental Op, there is one story where a character from the previous story reappears, so the stories in that book should probably be read in order.

 

I had forgotten that I have also seen (many years ago) a movie of The Glass Key, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.

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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


becke_davis wrote:

I was interested to see this in the Wikipedia bio:

 

"Time magazine included Hammett's 1929 novel Red Harvest on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005."

 

I know I've read this book - it's a Continental Op story - but I can't really remember it. Now I want to read it again!

 

Red Harvest  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's featured here:http://www.detnovel.com/RedHarvest.html

 

 Major Works: Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett

 

by William Marling,Ph.D. Professor of English, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

 

Red Harvest (1929) features the nameless detective employed by the Continental Detective Agency, and hence called the "Continental Op." Developed in Black Mask, he became an archetype in the genre. The novel's plot combines four short stories from that magazine, but they are not tightly linked. As the Op says, "Plans are all right sometimes. And sometimes just stirring things up is all right." 1 The "stir-it-up" approach prevails in Hammett's first novel, which emphasizes brilliant scenes, a traditional first-person narrator, dialogue that is funny, and action that is highly stylized, rather than plausible plotting or characterization.

The Op goes to "Poisonville," a mining town in Montana modeled on Anaconda or Butte, which is famously described as "an ugly city of forty thousand, set in an ugly notch between two ugly mountains" (4). Newspaper editor Donald Willsson has been killed, and the Op is hired by his father, Old Elihu Willsson, the mining and newspaper czar, to find the murderer and to clean up the town. Suspicion falls on young Willsson's foreign-born wife and then on Bill Quint, an affable, decayed, I. W. W. member. The Op soon learns that Old Elihu imported thugs to fight the union and that police chief Noonan is corrupt. To set crook against crook, he establishes a relationship with sultry, greedy Dinah Brand, who has scandalous information on everyone. Dinah is "a soiled dove … a de luxe hustler, a big league gold-digger" and one of Hammett's best characters. A shop-worn femme fatale, she cannot seduce the Op because he is too tight-fisted. But her allure caused Robert Albury, a jealous bank clerk, to kill young Willsson, another of her lovers, in the Op's solution to the initial crime.

The Op decides to stay and open "Poisonville up from Adam's apple to ankles" (60). First he unfixes a rigged boxing match, costing hoodlum Max "Whisper" Thaler his money and dividing him from Dinah, whom the Op tips off. In return she reveals that "Max" killed the police chief's brother years ago; her error -– it is "MacSwain," not "Max" – leads to the revealed plot of the novel's mid-section: that MacSwain's old girlfriend Myrtle Jennision covered up the murder for him.

In the novel's third section, Continental agents Foley and Linehan arrive to help the Op and to provide contrasting styles. Foley is large, loquacious, and lazy, whileLinehan is small, terse, and on-the-spot. The pace of the action becomes comically fast. While the Op goes with the police chief on a raid, destroying Pete the Finn's liquor, a new crook, Reno Starkey, overthrows crook Lew Yard. Finally the police chief asks for a peace conference.

"If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood simple like the natives," says the Op. "I've arranged a killing or two in my time, when they were necessary. But this is the first time I've ever got the fever" (142-3). He takes a drugged drink from Dinah and has two important dreams while unconscious. Hammett liked to insert such sequences two-thirds of the way through his novels; usually these "embedded plots" reveal the protagonist's psyche. The Op wakes to find Dinah dead beside him with an ice-pick in her breast. He gets an alibi from Reno Starkey, then feverishly plays off the criminals against each other. The police chief is killed by Max, who is wounded by consumptive "lunger" Dan Rolff (modeled on Hammett). The Op and Reno bomb Pete the Finn's warehouse, then kill the bootlegger as he surrenders. Dinah's murderer turns out to have been Reno, who nonetheless elicits the Op's admiration: "He meant to die as he had lived, inside the same tough shell" (197). The revealed plot of this section shows Dinah Brand to have been the mistress of several men, including Old Elihu Willsson.

Red Harvest is not notable for plotting or plausibility, but for the character of the Op, the cartoon-like carnage, and the brilliant style. Passages such as "We bumped over dead Hank O'Meara's legs and headed for home. We covered one block of the distance with safety if not comfort. After that we had neither" (182) compress action and black humor, often retrospectively. The dialogue contributes to the effect seamlessly: "Be still while I get up or I'll make an opening in your head for brains to leak in" (90). When the Op tells Dinah that she gets runs in her stockings because "Your legs are too big. They put too much strain on the material," the characters of both are revealed in succinct, humorous fashion (79). Like the joyous mayhem of a Road-runner cartoon, Red Harvest is an ironic consideration of the possibilities in repetitious violence. In hard-boiled fiction, such pervasive irony and Keystone comedy, delivered in muscular, action-packed prose, was genuinely new.

Critics originally discussed Red Harvest in terms of allegory. The Op is a quester and in several short monologues he expresses a code. (59-60, 62, 79, 109-11, 145, 198).

Like the heroes of grail romances, the Op visits an underworld (while drugged) in order to set affairs right in this world. His deity is his boss, "The Old Man," who will give him "merry hell" (199). French existentialists also liked the novel, perhaps taking it too seriously. Andre Gide said it was "the last word in atrocity, cynicism and horror… a remarkable achievement." 2 Later critical attention focussed on the "waste land" motifs. Some took the novel to be an allegory about organized labor, even arguing that it was a Marxist critique of capitalism. 3 Later the Op's epistemology was laid bare, and Old Elihu was seen as a version of George Hearst, the Montana mine-owner whose son William controlled California newspapers and politics in Hammett's day.4

 


 

1 Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (New York: Vintage, 1972), 79.2 Andre Gide, "American Writing Today: An Imaginary Interview," New Republic, February 7, 1944, 186. 3 Carl Freedman and Christopher Kendrick, "Forms of Labor in Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest,PMLA 106.2 (1991): 209-21. 4 Emphasis on epistemology in Sinda Gregory, Private Investigations: The Novels of Dashiell Hammett (Carbondale: University of Illinois Press, 1985). Prodigal son and New Historical readings in William Marling, The American Roman Noir (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995).



The Time Magazine list of Top 100 Novels is where I found out about "Red Harvest." I wanted to read something by Hammett that I had no preconcieved notions about, in relation to a movie or something. I really want to read "The Thin Man" and "The Maltese Falcon," as well, but I really enjoyed "Red Harvest!"

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becke_davis
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

You all have put me in the mood for a THIN MAN binge. If any of you haven't seen those, you should check them out. William Powell and Myrna Loy are great, but Asta steals the show! (He is a frequent clue in crossword puzzles...)

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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I didn't know that there was a movie made for the Glass Key! I'll have to look around and see if it's available somewhere.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


maxcat wrote:

I didn't know that there was a movie made for the Glass Key! I'll have to look around and see if it's available somewhere.


I saw it years ago; don't know if it's available.  Looking it up on wikipedia, I see it was actually the second version (1942).  There was another one in 1935 with George Raft and Ray Milland.  And there was even an earlier Maltese Falcon, in 1931!

 

As another comment on the order of the Op's stories, I read "$106,000 Blood Money" last night, and found it to be a sequel to "The Big Knockover", so those two stories should also be read in order.

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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


dulcinea3 wrote:

maxcat wrote:

I didn't know that there was a movie made for the Glass Key! I'll have to look around and see if it's available somewhere.


I saw it years ago; don't know if it's available.  Looking it up on wikipedia, I see it was actually the second version (1942).  There was another one in 1935 with George Raft and Ray Milland.  And there was even an earlier Maltese Falcon, in 1931!

 

As another comment on the order of the Op's stories, I read "$106,000 Blood Money" last night, and found it to be a sequel to "The Big Knockover", so those two stories should also be read in order.


I had no idea there were so many versions!!

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dulcinea3
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I finished The Big Knockover last night.  I have really enjoyed reading this and The Continental Op.  My favorites in The Continental Op were The House on Turk Street and The Whosis Kid; in both cases, the Op kind of stumbled into situations that were not related to assignments (although he was working on an case at the beginning of The House on Turk Street), and they both involved groups of crooks who were all trying to double-cross each other.  In The Big Knockover, it was interesting, because although the style of the stories were the same, he seemed to be playing with different genres.  The Gutting of Couffignal

Spoiler
involved an armed assault on an island town, so it was almost a military story
, while Corkscrew was a shoot-'em-up Western.  I also really liked the character in Corkscrew known as "Milk River" (as nameless as the Op himself), and the Op seemed to feel a friendship towards him, which seemed a bit unusual to me.  I think Hammett must have had a lot of fun with The Big Knockover, because it was really big, and he got to make up dozens of colorful names for the crooks!

 

I saved the unfinished novel Tulip (included in The Big Knockover) for last, although it was placed third-to-last in the book, because I wanted to read all the Continental Op stories first.  Tulip was interesting.  It was largely autobiographical, and it seemed like he was inserting different stories in different styles into it - at one point he launched into a third-person narrative of a story that the character Tulip told hiim, later he 'read aloud' an article that Tulip had saved that the narrator had written years earlier (a very esoteric review of a book by Waite - the mystic behind the Rider-Waite Tarot - about the Rosicrucians), and later he related a long narrative of his experiences in hospitals when he had TB.  Although Hammett had not finished the novel (what is included is about the same length as the short stories), he had written several paragraphs meant to be the ending.  Apparently the narrator had shown Tulip a manuscript that he had been working on, and Tulip said he didn't see the point.  I'm not sure I did, either, but it was interesting.

 

Tonight I will read a Sam Spade short story, so I'll see if I like Spade as much as the Op!

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becke_davis
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I'm frustrated because I haven't found copies of some of the out-of-print books. I'm sure to find them all once we've moved on from this feature!

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dulcinea3
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

Which ones are out of print, Becke?  I might feel a bit guilty if you've sent some of them to me!

 

I've read the three Sam Spade short stories (in an anthology called Great Detectives).  I enjoyed them, but I think I prefer the Continental Op stories - a lot more action!  Spade wasn't working outside the law, though, as one of the posted articles said.  He worked closely with the police.  The Spade stories seemed a lot shorter than the Op stories, too.  Spade's description was not much like Humphrey Bogart - he was described as a 'blonde Satan', because his chin, mouth, and eyebrows all made a kind of downward point.

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becke_davis
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT


dulcinea3 wrote:

Which ones are out of print, Becke?  I might feel a bit guilty if you've sent some of them to me!

 

I've read the three Sam Spade short stories (in an anthology called Great Detectives).  I enjoyed them, but I think I prefer the Continental Op stories - a lot more action!  Spade wasn't working outside the law, though, as one of the posted articles said.  He worked closely with the police.  The Spade stories seemed a lot shorter than the Op stories, too.  Spade's description was not much like Humphrey Bogart - he was described as a 'blonde Satan', because his chin, mouth, and eyebrows all made a kind of downward point.


Oh, no - don't worry about that. I realized there were a few I either haven't read or else have forgotten. I'm trying to pick up used copies, which I'll read and pass on to you all! I'm trying to clear out some of my books before they take over the whole house!

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dulcinea3
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Re: American Mystery Classics: DASHIELL HAMMETT

I recorded a movie yesterday because it said it was based on a Dashiell Hammett story.  The movie is called No Good Deed (2002), with Samual L. Jackson and Milla Jovovich.  The descriptions actually sounds a bit like The House on Turk Street, which was one of my favorites from The Continental Op.  I don't know when I'll get around to watching it, but I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm right.  If they have Jackson playing the Op, I'm not sure I can see him in that role, though.

 

Ah, I just looked the movie up on wikipedia, but didn't read the whole thing, and I was right about the story it is based on!  I do think Jackson has the Op's role, but he apparently has a name (I guess it would be difficult to not give him a name in a movie, although it worked in Rebecca).

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