As Terry Zobeck noted in the first part of his pure text survey for “Corkscrew,” the editorial changes were rampant — scanning down this post and then the next post will give you the clew. A hell of a lot of blue pencil work.
This post begins the list of edits, and ends with the only additional change Lillian Hellman made when she based the text of “Corkscrew” in The Big Knockover (Random House, 1966) on the Dannay edit.
Because Frederic Dannay made so many edits to “Corkscrew,” we are dividing the review into parts, so that each part is a somewhat reasonable length.
Also, in a departure from our usual format, I’ve provided references to two first edition sources of the Dannay version, Nightmare Town from the 1948 Lawrence Spivak digest and the 1966 Lillian Hellman selection, The Big Knockover, since the latter is probably the more accessible version for most Hammett fans.
The following list provides the page number, the line number and whether it is from the top or bottom of the page, and the affected text — Hammett’s original wording is underlined. The first set of page numbers, line numbers, and position in relation to the top or bottom of the page refers to the story as it appears in Nightmare Town, the second to The Big Knockover — for ease of the eye, the lower page numbers are from the Spivak digest, the higher page numbers from the Random House hardcover.
Page Line Top/Bottom Text
84 2 top
196 2 top the shimmering heat, blinding sunlight,
84 10 top
196 10 top sharp-edged barrancos.
All these things were hot. All of them tried to get rid of their heat by throwing it on the car. My fat melted in the heat. The heat dried my perspiration before I could feel its moisture. The dazzling light scorched my eyeballs; puckered my lids; cooked my mouth. Alkali stung my nose; was gritty between my teeth.
It was a nice ride! I understood why the natives were a hard lot. A morning like this would put any man in a mood to kill his brother, and would fry his brother into not caring whether he was killed.
84 9 bottom
196 3 bottom trying to sneak away from them.
That was Corkscrew. One look at it and I believed all I had heard about it.
85 7 top
197 15 top “A room and a lot of water,” I said, dropping my bags and reaching for the glass that sat on top of a cooler in the corner.
85 16 top
197 19 bottom with the help of his hands on the table—one of them flat in the plate of ham and eggs he had been eating.
85 4 bottom
198 3 top right out in the open! There was no use trying to cover up.
86 16 top
198 19 bottom “You can grub up at the Toad’s Jew’s
86 17 bottom
198 16 bottom I found the Toad’s Jew’s.
86 8 bottom
198 5 bottom The proprietor wasn’t a Jew—an Armenian or something of the sort, I thought. He was a small man
86 1 bottom
199 3 top he said over his shoulder. “Sure, we need them!”
87 7-8 top
199 12-13 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: II]
87 13 top
199 18 top was an oak bar, with nobody behind it.
87 15 bottom
199 16 bottom rough on me sometimes, and I’m glad there’s going to be somebody around who can handle them.”
88 16 top
200 17 top Nisbet dealt the cards. [should be a separate paragraph]
88 7 bottom
200 11 bottom they’re all I’ve seen outside of here.
88 5 bottom
200 10 bottom “So you met the Toad Jew?
88 3 bottom
200 8 bottom “Slim tried to beat the Toad Jew out of two bits
88 1 bottom
200 6 bottom here comes the Toad Jew,
89 10 top
201 6 top His bleary eyes went back to the table, and the laughter went out of them. Tthe laugh on his lips changed to a sneer.
89 11 top
201 7 top “Let’s play,” he growled [should be a separate paragraph]
89 19 top
201 15-16 top One that can run pretty good, but that isn’t too tricky for a bum rider to sit.
The Milk River hombre was playing the seven ball in the side pocket. He made the shot, and his pale eyes looked at the pocket into which the ball had gone for a couple of seconds before he straightened up. Lanky Dunne was looking fixedly at nothing, his mouth puckered a bit. Buck Small’s pop-eyes were intent on the tip of his cue.
89 7 bottom
201 15 bottom Milk River put his cue down, frowning. [should be a separate paragraph]
89 6 bottom
210 13 bottom we’ll mosey out there right now. It’s Sunday, and we’ll be sure of catching him.”
90 5 top
201 3 bottom I’m goin’ t’ open him up from his Adam’s apple for him plumb down to his ankles!”
90 9-10 top
202 4-5 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: III]
90 11 top
202 6 top swooped down on me, as if he had been lying in wait.
90 18 top
202 14 top Milk River looked back over his shoulder.
90 11 bottom
202 21 top dozen or more people there in his living-room.
91 7 top
202 4 bottom first day in Corkscrew! You have seen men whose garments did not conceal the deadly weapons under them! In that list is the black record of many months’ unatoned sinfulness. Strike now, brother, for the Lord and righteousness!
91 18 bottom
203 9 top The others nodded vigorously. Echlin’s eyes had lit up at his wife’s words, and he licked his lips as he nodded.
91 9-10 bottom
203 20 top Miss Janey is perfectly right. That woman is worse than the rest!”
92 3 top
203 12-13 bottom You will carry God’s war immediately into blind tiger and brothel and gambling hell?”
The others were on their feet now, closing in.
“I’ll have to look things over first,” I stalled.
“Brother, are you evading your duty? Are you procrastinating in the face of Satan? If you are the man I hope you are, you will march now, with the decent citizens of Corkscrew at your heels, to wipe from the face of our town the sin that blackens it!”
So that was it. I was to lead one of those vice-crusading mobs. I wondered how many of these crusaders would be standing behind me if one of the devil’s representatives took a shot at me. The minister maybe—his thin face was grimly pugnacious. But I couldn’t imagine what good he’d be in a row. The others would scatter at the first sign of trouble.
I stopped playing politics and said my say.
92 5 top
203 10 bottom not for a while, anyway. Later, I’ll try to get around to the bootleggers and gamblers and similar small fry, though I’m not foolish enough to think I can put them all out of business. Just now, so long as they don’t cut up too rough, I don’t expect to bother them. I haven’t the time.
92 9 top
203 6 bottom And I left. [should be a separate paragraph]
92 11-12 top
203 2-3 bottom I found a place in it
92 14-15 top
204 1-2 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: IV]
92 19 top
204 7 top to a larger and greener draw, where the mesquite grew in small trees and bees zizzed among wild flowers.
92 14 bottom
204 12-13 top This, I learned, was Peery. [should be a separate paragraph]
92 11 bottom
204 16-17 top That’s the nicest, mildest horse
92 3 bottom
204 18-19 bottom Smith and Dunne set out together, pretending they weren’t going eagerly.
“Where’s Red and Slim?” Peery asked.
“Stayin’ in a while,” Small told him. “Slim’s a million ahead in a poker game.”
93 3 top
204 13 bottom “Try him out and we’ll talk dinero. I warn you, I ain’t so damned anxious to get rid of him that I’ll let him go for nothing. But you try him first—trot him down the draw a little ways and back. He’s downright sweet.”
93 15 top
205 2 top I’m a city man. but I can sit any street car or taxicab in the world, and I can even ride a horse
94 8 top
205 10 bottom “I ain’t going to have you killed on my hands.”
I shook my head violently, trying to clear it, so I could see him better.
94 11 top
205 6 bottom falling off carelessly like that.”
94 17-18 top
206 1-2 top no horse could possibly do. Looking down, I was surprised not to see his kidneys and liver—because I knew damned well he was turning himself inside out.
94 16-17 bottom
206 3-4 top I landed in the same clump of brush that had get me once before.
I couldn’t see much when I got up—only the yellow of Rollo.
I heard Peery’s bass voice, protesting to somebody.
“No, let the damned fool kill himself if he wants to.”
I heaved myself wearily into the saddle again.
For a while I thought Rollo had had enough. He was a well-behaved animal under me. That was fine. I had ridden him at last.
Nonsense! He was fooling.
He put his nose in the sand. He put it in the sky. And, using his head for a base, he wagged his body as a puppy would wag its tail.
I went way from him—and stayed where I landed.
94 11 bottom
206 9-10 top “I don’t think that horse would be much good to me,” I told them. “Maybe I’d better look at another.” [should be a separate paragraph]
94 5-6 bottom
206 15-16 top [Between these lines should be the chapter number: V]
94 5 bottom
206 16-17 top and Milk River was prodding me with a finger.
95 2 top
206 20 bottom I hadn’t slept in. He had something to say, so I gave him time, lacing my shoes slowly.
95 7-8 top
206 13-14 bottom a hombre that’ll let a bronc dirty him up three times hand-running handrunning
95 15 top
206 6 bottom “Where’s that breakfast you were bragging about?”
95 16 top [The pulp is missing a portion of the line at the top of page 13. In Nightmare Town this line reads: Six men were eating in the chuck-shack when we came in. The bottom of page 12 of the pulp reads: Six men were eating in the chuck- The line resumes on the top of page 13 with: …me in. It is reasonable to assume that the missing text is “shack when we ca”.]
95 13 bottom
207 5 top a friend or two. In less than a day I had accomplished what, by milder means, would have taken weeks, or months. These cowhands were kidding me just about as they would have kidded each other.
96 4 top
207 20 top This is my job, and if I want any help I’ll tell you.”
96 8-9 top
207 17-18 bottom [Between these lines should be the chapter number: VI]
96 9 top
207 18 bottom of the Border Palace, going indoors.
96 14 top
207 11 bottom paying no attention to anything, not even looking up at our arrival, Mark Nisbet sat.
96 17 top
207 7-8 bottom and you’re the man to stop it!”
I noticed that the Circle H. A. R. men had not followed me into the center of the room, but had stopped in a loose semi-circle just inside the street door.
96 11 bottom
208 4 top Gyp went gingerly through the cowboys grouped at the door and vanished.
I didn’t like this public stuff. I’d rather do my questioning on the side. But to try that here would probably call for a showdown with Peery and his men, and I wasn’t quite ready for that.
96 1 bottom
208 16 top and the Toad Jew next door
97 2 top
208 18 top I turned to Gyp.
He spit in a cuspidor and hunched his shoulders.
97 3 top
208 19 top “Bardell’s give it all to you,” he said.
“Didn’t see anything before or after except what Bardell has said?”
97 16 top
208 12 bottom The Toad Jew was giving
97 19 top [The top of page 14 of the pulp is missing a portion that affects the text. In Nightmare Town it reads: The walls and floor were already comparatively clean. In the pulp the test reads: The walls ________________ already comparatively clean. It’s not likely anything was edited by Dannay.]
97 15 bottom
208 4 bottom “Know anything about the killing last night?”
97 10 bottom
209 3 top “how is he, Chick?”
97 5-6 bottom
209 7-8 top we carry him into Mr. Bardell’s place and put him on those tables.”
97 3-4 bottom
209 9 top That was all the Toad Jew knew. I returned to the Border Palace. Dr. Haley—a fussy little man whose nervous fingers played with his lips—was there.
98 1 top
209 12-13 top The bullet was a .38. Death had been instantaneous. So much for that. [The first two sentences should go with the preceding paragraph. The third sentence should be a separate paragraph.]
98 2-3 top
209 14-15 top I sat on a corner of a pool table, facing Mark Nisbet. Feet shuffled on the floor behind me and I could feel tension making.
98 4 top
209 15-16 top “What can you tell me Nisbet?” I asked.
He didn’t look up from the floor. No muscle moved in his face except those that shaped his mouth to his words.
98 18 top
209 13 bottom I make my living out of cards, not out of picking fights.”
98 14-15 bottom
209 7-8 bottom gave it back to him—told him to beat it.
“No shooting in here?”
“Not a shot.”
98 11 bottom
209 4 bottom I got down from my perch on the table and walked over to Nisbet, holding out my hand.
98 2-3 bottom
213 6-7 top spread out behind him, his men were as ready for action as he. Their hands hovered close to the bulges that showed where their weapons were packed.
99 6 top
210 14 top I haven’t got enough to convict Nisbet, and I don’t see any sense in arresting a man just because it looks as if he might have done a thing.”
100 1 top
211 3-4 top [Prior to the first line should be the chapter number: VII]
100 5 top
211 9 top I asked Milk River, who was making a cigarette while I lit one of the Fatimas he had refused.
100 8 top
211 12 top when the new deputy come. He sure laid out a reputation for you! According to his way of telling it, you was the toughest, hardest, strongest, fastest, sharpest, biggest, wisest and meanest man west of the Mississippi River.”
100 9 top
211 13 top “Who’s this Turney?”
“You mean you don’t know him? From the way he talked, I took it you and him ate off the same plate.”
“Never even heard any rumors about him. Who is he?”
100 10 top
211 14 top the Orilla County Company outfit up the way.”
100 15 bottom
211 13 bottom and now they’re about ready to sell it.
100 2 bottom
212 2-3 top back and side doors. Compared to this graft, rum-running—even dope-running—is kid stuff.
101 5 top
212 10 top make this part of Arizona nice and lady-like.
101 9 top
212 15 top But we thought it was a secret—until I got here.” [In The Big Knockover, Hellman edited this sentence to read: But we thought it was supposed to be a secret.]