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Re: Hammett (continued)

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  • Mike Blake
    ... Red Harvest (1928), his first novel, is very disappointing, being an episodic compilation of short stories set in the corrupt mining town of Personville
    Message 1 of 15 , Apr 5, 2004
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      "Wyatt James" <grobius@...> wrote:
      ----->
      "Red Harvest" (1928), his first novel, is very disappointing, being an
      episodic compilation of short stories set in the corrupt mining town
      of Personville ('Poisonville'). The Continental Op has taken on the
      task of cleaning up the town, and his method is to set the different
      gangster factions against each other. It is sheer pulp fiction, with
      something like two-dozen or so killings, mostly shoot-em-ups of
      Keystone Kops freneticism in which practically every major character
      ends up dead. A couple of 'real' murders are solved by the Op using
      detection, but otherwise this does not rank as a detective novel. His
      dialogue is good, however, and some of the characters are well-drawn
      (especially the floozy Dinah Brand and the corrupt Sheriff Noonan).
      <-----

      Disappointing, perhaps, but so influential, especially in cinema. Look at
      the all the films, from Samurai movies to spaghetti westerns and back to
      gangster films, it has inspired. Maybe =because= rather than in spite of
      its pulpishness and violent, episodic nature.

      But I did not know before that it was cobbled together from short stories.
      There's another character that intrigues me in this book. The protagonist
      calls in other Continental Ops to help him at one point, he has a
      disagreement with one who sees himself as a rival and won't do things his
      way. That character up and leaves. I found myself scratching my head and
      wondering what that was all about. It happens so quickly it makes no
      difference to anything else in the book. Your explanation (they were short
      stories) helps a bit with that episode.

      --Mike Blake
    • W. Peck
      And wasn t THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film -- Alan Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don t recall who else? ; ...
      Message 2 of 15 , Apr 5, 2004
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        And wasn't THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film -- Alan
        Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don't recall who else?
        ;
        --- b_ergang <bergang@...> wrote:
        > --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "Wyatt James" <grobius@s...>
        > wrote:
        > >"Red Harvest" (1928), his first novel, is very disappointing, being
        > >an episodic compilation of short stories set in the corrupt mining
        > >town of Personville ('Poisonville')...It is sheer pulp fiction,
        > >with something like two-dozen or so killings, mostly shoot-em-ups
        > >of Keystone Kops freneticism in which practically every major
        > >character ends up dead. A couple of 'real' murders are solved by
        > >the Op using detection, but otherwise this does not rank as a
        > >detective novel.
        > ********************
        > I remember counting the corpses when I read that one. I *think* they
        > totaled 29.
        > ********************
        > >Now reading "The Thin Man", which so far has only convinced me that
        > >Nick and Nora Charles are confirmed alcoholics...The dialogue is
        > >good and breezy, of course, and one can see why the Powell/Loy
        > >movies caught on.
        > ********************
        > The movies, especially the sequels, were better than the
        > original book which was, in my estimation, Hammett's weakest and
        > dullest. For that matter, the *first* movie was better than the book
        > it was adapted from.
        > ********************
        > >I'm saving "The Glass Key" and "The Maltese Falcon" for last, since
        > >as I recall from years ago they are the very best of Hammett.
        > ********************
        > I thought THE GLASS KEY was Hammett's best book the moment I
        > finished it. I subsequently discovered that Hammett felt so, too.
        >
        > The most effectively brutal and wrenching scene I've ever come
        > across in *any* piece of fiction I've read so far is the one in
        > which Ned Beaumont and Eloise Mathews flaunt their carnal interest
        > in one another in front of Eloise's husband, after which he commits
        > suicide. I've only read the book once--a long time ago--but I've
        > never forgotten that scene.
        >
        > Adding to the book's overall power is Hammett's use of the objective
        > third-person viewpoint. He never goes into the mind of any of the
        > characters, conveying emotion solely through their actions and
        > dialogue, but the impact isn't any the less for it.
        >
        > This is the work in which, for what my opinion is worth, Hammett
        > outdoes Hemingway at his own over-touted game.
        >
        >


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      • Xavier Lechard
        ... Veronica Lake and, above all, William Bendix who gives Ladd one of the most memorable beatings in film history. When I bite a steak, I like it to bite
        Message 3 of 15 , Apr 5, 2004
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          W. Peck wrote:

          >And wasn't THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film -- Alan
          >Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don't recall who else?

          Veronica Lake and, above all, William Bendix who gives Ladd one of the most memorable beatings in film history. "When I bite a steak, I like it to bite back at me". Screenplay, for the record, was written by hardboiled veteran Johnathan Latimer who actually loathed Hammett and his book.

          Friendly,
          Xavier




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Wyatt James
          That was the Canadian Op Dick Foley, and our hero kicks him out because he felt he didn t trust him not to go blabbing to the Boss -- that was not expanded
          Message 4 of 15 , Apr 5, 2004
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            That was the Canadian Op Dick Foley, and our hero kicks him out
            because he felt he didn't trust him not to go blabbing to the Boss --
            that was not expanded (but it may have been in other stories, don't
            know). Another Op, who also appears in "Dain Curse" is Mickey Linehan,
            who is one of Hammett's great subsidiary characters, and in a way is
            Continental Op's Watson.

            These were not independent short short stories then cobbled together
            to make a book (although the author may have reused some of his plot
            lines from earlier stories). It is just the way the novel was put
            together, I suspect for serial publication in "Black Mask" or wherever
            it first appeared. Each 'episode' would have made a lead entry in that
            month's issue.

            --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Blake" <mike.blake@b...> wrote:
            > "Wyatt James" <grobius@s...> wrote:
            > ----->
            > "Red Harvest" (1928), his first novel, is very disappointing, being an
            > episodic compilation of short stories set in the corrupt mining town
            > of Personville ('Poisonville'). The Continental Op has taken on the
            > task of cleaning up the town, and his method is to set the different
            > gangster factions against each other. It is sheer pulp fiction, with
            > something like two-dozen or so killings, mostly shoot-em-ups of
            > Keystone Kops freneticism in which practically every major character
            > ends up dead. A couple of 'real' murders are solved by the Op using
            > detection, but otherwise this does not rank as a detective novel. His
            > dialogue is good, however, and some of the characters are well-drawn
            > (especially the floozy Dinah Brand and the corrupt Sheriff Noonan).
            > <-----
            >
            > Disappointing, perhaps, but so influential, especially in cinema.
            Look at
            > the all the films, from Samurai movies to spaghetti westerns and
            back to
            > gangster films, it has inspired. Maybe =because= rather than in
            spite of
            > its pulpishness and violent, episodic nature.
            >
            > But I did not know before that it was cobbled together from short
            stories.
            > There's another character that intrigues me in this book. The
            protagonist
            > calls in other Continental Ops to help him at one point, he has a
            > disagreement with one who sees himself as a rival and won't do
            things his
            > way. That character up and leaves. I found myself scratching my head
            and
            > wondering what that was all about. It happens so quickly it makes no
            > difference to anything else in the book. Your explanation (they were
            short
            > stories) helps a bit with that episode.
            >
            > --Mike Blake
          • W. Peck
            Ah...how could I have forgotten the lovely Lake and underrated Bendix, the Blue Dahlia gang? Thank you kindly, Xavier. ; ...
            Message 5 of 15 , Apr 5, 2004
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              Ah...how could I have forgotten the lovely Lake and underrated Bendix, the
              "Blue Dahlia" gang? Thank you kindly, Xavier.
              ;
              --- Xavier Lechard <x.lechard@...> wrote:
              > W. Peck wrote:
              >
              > >And wasn't THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film -- Alan
              > >Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don't recall who else?
              >
              > Veronica Lake and, above all, William Bendix who gives Ladd one of the
              > most memorable beatings in film history. "When I bite a steak, I like it
              > to bite back at me". Screenplay, for the record, was written by
              > hardboiled veteran Johnathan Latimer who actually loathed Hammett and
              > his book.
              >
              > Friendly,
              > Xavier
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >


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            • b_ergang
              ... ******************** Yes, but it was a remake of a 1935 version--which I don t think I ve ever seen, at least not in its entirety--starring George Raft,
              Message 6 of 15 , Apr 5, 2004
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                --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "W. Peck" <aria376@y...> wrote:
                > And wasn't THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film --
                >Alan Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don't recall who else?
                ********************
                Yes, but it was a remake of a 1935 version--which I don't think I've
                ever seen, at least not in its entirety--starring George Raft,
                Edward Arnold, and Claire Dodd--according to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
                MYSTERY AND DETECTION.
              • W. Peck
                Thank you, Barry. I wasn t aware of that one--and it didn t occur to me to consult Steinbrunner-Penzler--and wish I d seen it too. Although I ve never been
                Message 7 of 15 , Apr 6, 2004
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                  Thank you, Barry. I wasn't aware of that one--and it didn't occur to me
                  to consult Steinbrunner-Penzler--and wish I'd seen it too. Although I've
                  never been able to make up my mind about Raft, I've always thought Arnold
                  was terrific in nearly every role.
                  ;
                  --- b_ergang <bergang@...> wrote:
                  > --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "W. Peck" <aria376@y...> wrote:
                  > > And wasn't THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film --
                  > >Alan Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don't recall who else?
                  > ********************
                  > Yes, but it was a remake of a 1935 version--which I don't think I've
                  > ever seen, at least not in its entirety--starring George Raft,
                  > Edward Arnold, and Claire Dodd--according to THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
                  > MYSTERY AND DETECTION.
                  >
                  >
                  >


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                • b_ergang
                  ... Although I ve never been able to make up my mind about Raft, I ve always thought Arnold was terrific in nearly every role. ***************** We can all
                  Message 8 of 15 , Apr 6, 2004
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                    --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "W. Peck" <aria376@y...> wrote:
                    Although I've never been able to make up my mind about Raft, I've
                    always thought Arnold was terrific in nearly every role.
                    *****************
                    We can all thank Raft for declining some roles that moved Bogart out
                    of Warner Brother's "murderer's row" and gave him the "star" status
                    his talent deserved. Because he refused to die at the end of a
                    picture, Raft turned down the lead in "High Sierra." Because he
                    didn't want to trust his career to a fledgling director named John
                    Huston, he turned down the part of Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon."

                    Another film that ultimately benefited from Warner Bros. deciding to
                    take chances was "Casablanca." The original leads were to have been
                    Ronald Reagan (yecch!) and Ann Sheridan. There's a scary thought.
                    Reagan couldn't perform to the level of a kindergarten play, and
                    Sheridan, though good in a lot of roles ("I Was a Male War Bride,"
                    for instance), would have been supremely miscast as Ilsa.

                    Like you, I've never seen Edward Arnold turn in a bad performance--
                    though I can't say I've seen a lot of his films. He could play good
                    guy or bad guy with equal skill. I recently watched--and taped for
                    the collection--"Eyes in the Night," in which he portrayed Baynard
                    Kendrick's blind detective Duncan Maclain and did a good job of it.
                    He played Nero Wolfe at least once ("Meet Nero Wolfe"}, but if I
                    ever saw it, I don't remember it at all.
                  • Bob Schneider
                    The Blue Dahlia & The Glass Key were very entertaining, very worthwhile watching, but they had their flaws. In The Glass Key, Bendix administered several
                    Message 9 of 15 , Apr 6, 2004
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                      The Blue Dahlia & The Glass Key were very entertaining, very
                      worthwhile watching, but they had their flaws. In The Glass Key,
                      Bendix administered several beatings to Ladd. As I write this I'm
                      watching the 1978 Robert Mitchem version of The Big Sleep, filmed in
                      England. Not a great movie but better than anything else on TV
                      tonight. Some very attractive women in this version--Sarah Miles,
                      Candy Clark, Joan Collins. On the other hand, the superior 1946
                      Bogart version had Lauren Bacall and Dorothy Malone.

                      Bob



                      -- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "W. Peck" <aria376@y...> wrote:
                      > Ah...how could I have forgotten the lovely Lake and underrated
                      Bendix, the
                      > "Blue Dahlia" gang? Thank you kindly, Xavier.
                      > ;
                      > --- Xavier Lechard <x.lechard@f...> wrote:
                      > > W. Peck wrote:
                      > >
                      > > >And wasn't THE GLASS KEY another Hammett novel adapted for film -
                      - Alan
                      > > >Ladd, I think, and Brian Donleavy and I don't recall who else?
                      > >
                      > > Veronica Lake and, above all, William Bendix who gives Ladd one
                      of the
                      > > most memorable beatings in film history.
                    • b_ergang
                      ... wrote: As I write this I m watching the 1978 Robert Mitchem version of The Big Sleep, filmed in England. Not a great movie but better
                      Message 10 of 15 , Apr 6, 2004
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                        --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "Bob Schneider"
                        <speedymystery@y...> wrote:
                        As I write this I'm watching the 1978 Robert Mitchem version of The
                        Big Sleep, filmed in England. Not a great movie but better than
                        anything else on TV tonight. Some very attractive women in this
                        version--Sarah Miles, Candy Clark, Joan Collins. On the other hand,
                        the superior 1946 Bogart version had Lauren Bacall and Dorothy
                        Malone.
                        ******************
                        I posted the following at another group when the subject of movies
                        adapted from Chandler's novels arose:

                        ___The saddest thing about Michael Winner's production of "The Big
                        Sleep" is that it's the only adaptation of a Chandler novel that's
                        almost completely faithful to the source. (The one rather lame
                        moment, changed for the sake of "excitement," was Marlowe's final
                        confrontation with Canino, overplayed by Richard Boone. [Bob Steele
                        did a much better job in the Howard Hawks production.])

                        ___Now if they'd set the film in L.A. in 1939 or the early '40s, and
                        used an all-American cast as good as the British one, they might
                        have had something.

                        ___Mitchum, however, sleepwalked through the part. He did a much
                        better job in "Farewell, My Lovely," but I'd still personally rank
                        Bogart and Powell higher on the list of Marlowes.___

                        Incidentally, and to add to my recent trivia discussions, "The Big
                        Sleep" was released in 1946 but shot the year before. Release was
                        delayed because Warners wanted to play up Bacall's part and her
                        scenes with Bogart because of the chemistry they'd shown in "To Have
                        and Have Not." They didn't want it to run longer than two hours;
                        thus, some scenes in the original were excised and new ones shot to
                        replace them.

                        Both versions of the film are now available--I believe the DVD
                        contains both, plus a documentary about the making of the film, part
                        of which I once caught on TCM.

                        The 1945 version is somewhat more coherent as to the plot, which
                        anyone who has ever seen the 1946 version knows is thorough
                        confusion.

                        More trivia: according to a book called FAULKNER AND FILM by Bruce
                        F. Kawin, early versions of the script played up Martha Vickers's
                        role as Carmen Sternwood. She was so good the scenes were cut or
                        toned down, because the studio didn't want her to overshadow Lauren
                        Bacall.

                        Best,
                        Barry
                      • Sam Karnick
                        Barry, I agree that CASABLANCA would not have been as good without the lead performers who were ultimately cast, but your comments about Ronald Reagan as an
                        Message 11 of 15 , Apr 8, 2004
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                          Barry, I agree that CASABLANCA would not have been as good without the
                          lead performers who were ultimately cast, but your comments about Ronald
                          Reagan as an actor are dead wrong. His early WB films include several
                          stories of mystery and suspense in which he handles himself quite well
                          (notably in his three greatly entertaining Brass Bancroft films), and
                          his performance in KINGS ROW has long been correctly acknowledged as a
                          truly great performance. Reagan also did a terrific job in films as
                          diverse as DARK VICTORY, KNUTE ROCKNE: ALL-AMERICAN, THE HASTY HEART,
                          THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE, TENNESSEE'S PARTNER, and THE KILLERS, among
                          many others. One can certainly disagree with his politics, but to
                          denigrate him as unable to perform to the level of a kindergarten play
                          is utterly wrong factually. He was a fine actor, not one of the very
                          highest rank, but a thoroughly competent and appealing performer who
                          sometimes reached real heights of inspiration.

                          Best w's,

                          Sam

                          S.T. Karnick
                          Editor in Chief, American Outlook, American Outlook Today
                          Director of Publications, Hudson Institute



                          -----Original Message-----
                          Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 20:29:58 -0000
                          From: "b_ergang" <bergang@...>
                          Subject: George Raft and Edward Arnold

                          --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "W. Peck" <aria376@y...> wrote:
                          Although I've never been able to make up my mind about Raft, I've
                          always thought Arnold was terrific in nearly every role.
                          *****************
                          We can all thank Raft for declining some roles that moved Bogart out
                          of Warner Brother's "murderer's row" and gave him the "star" status
                          his talent deserved. Because he refused to die at the end of a
                          picture, Raft turned down the lead in "High Sierra." Because he
                          didn't want to trust his career to a fledgling director named John
                          Huston, he turned down the part of Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon."

                          Another film that ultimately benefited from Warner Bros. deciding to
                          take chances was "Casablanca." The original leads were to have been
                          Ronald Reagan (yecch!) and Ann Sheridan. There's a scary thought.
                          Reagan couldn't perform to the level of a kindergarten play, and
                          Sheridan, though good in a lot of roles ("I Was a Male War Bride,"
                          for instance), would have been supremely miscast as Ilsa.

                          Like you, I've never seen Edward Arnold turn in a bad performance--
                          though I can't say I've seen a lot of his films. He could play good
                          guy or bad guy with equal skill. I recently watched--and taped for
                          the collection--"Eyes in the Night," in which he portrayed Baynard
                          Kendrick's blind detective Duncan Maclain and did a good job of it.
                          He played Nero Wolfe at least once ("Meet Nero Wolfe"}, but if I
                          ever saw it, I don't remember it at all.
                        • b_ergang
                          ... ...your comments about Ronald Reagan as an actor are dead wrong.... One can certainly disagree with his politics.... **************** Sam, we ll have to
                          Message 12 of 15 , Apr 8, 2004
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                            --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "Sam Karnick" <Sam@h...> wrote:
                            ...your comments about Ronald Reagan as an actor are dead wrong....
                            One can certainly disagree with his politics....
                            ****************
                            Sam, we'll have to agree to disagree about this. I was definitely at
                            odds with his politics, but I couldn't stand him as a performer long
                            before he ever ran for a political office.

                            Best,
                            Barry
                          • Xavier Lechard
                            ... I, for one, never got what was so awful about Reagan s acting. Sure he was neither Laurence Olivier nor Marlon Brando (though I have strong reservation
                            Message 13 of 15 , Apr 8, 2004
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                              Barry wrote:

                              >Sam, we'll have to agree to disagree about this. I was definitely at
                              >odds with his politics, but I couldn't stand him as a performer long
                              >before he ever ran for a political office.

                              I, for one, never got what was so awful about Reagan's acting. Sure he was neither Laurence Olivier nor Marlon Brando (though I have strong reservation about the latter) but I can name a lot of his fellows that were much, much worse than him. Seeing John Agar for a minute makes you long for Ronnie. Also, and as Sam rightly pointed out, Reagan has a pretty good film-record, even though he wasn't always responsible for success of films he was in.

                              Friendly,
                              Xavier

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