Marvin's Reviews > Red Harvest

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
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's review
Jul 18, 11

bookshelves: mystery
Read from July 15 to 17, 2011

I keep vacillating from three to four stars on this. I recently finished The Maltese Falcon, which I loved, and quite a few people told me that if I loved Maltese Falcon I will love Red Harvest. I simply liked this one. Maltese Falcon was a tight mystery with a gritty but likable protagonist (Sam Spade) sparring with a few other well written character with some of the tightest dialogue this side of Shakespeare. Red Harvest had too many characters, too many jerky sub-plots, too many red herrings and a private investigator who could have used a lesson in style from Mr. Spade. Yet Hammett's writing and dialogue held me through it and is still a great reason for reading this novel.

The weird thing is that I kept thinking about Yojimbo, the Kurosawa film about a samurai who shows up in a corrupt village and destroys it by playing the people who run the town against each other. Yep. Same plot. A little research led me to discover that most scholars think Yojimbo was based on Red Harvest but Kurosawa denied it. This is the same Kurosawa that said his film Ran had nothing to do with King Lear, which is an amazing statement of the Brooklyn Bridge variety as in "If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you". For those not into Japanese film, High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood is loosely based on the same plot. My question is whether Hammett originated this modern theme. If so, Red Harvest deserves a place as a literary icon purely for that.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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John Actually, Kurosawa said that Yojimbo was based on The Glass Key (the novel basis for the Coen Bros.' Miller's Crossing, but this story certainly bears closer resemblance than that one. Kurosawa could have been confused about the titles, though, since American movies often get completely different titles when they get to Japan.

Re: High Plains Drifter, I think you mean A Fistful of Dollars.

Marvin That's interesting about The Glass Key. I haven't read it but certainly the plots of Miller's Crossings and Yojimbo have little in common.

No, I'm definitely thinking High Plains Drifter. Although, again, there are plenty of differences between Yojimbo and HPD.

John The Glass Key, along with this one (I disagreed with your review of this)is among my favorites. Ned Beaumont is easily equal to Sam Spade in the characterization factor.

Marvin A lot of people like Red Harvest more than The Maltese Falcon, so I may be in the minority.
Is Ned Beaumont in The Glass Key? I've only read Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest so I will definitely try The Glass Key. I just managed to find a copy of The Adventures of Sam Spade so I'll be reading that soon.

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