Hammett: Red Harvest Begat the Three Stooges?

You never know what you’re going to find drinking joe/surfing around the net/trying to wake up.

Today I came across a brief review of Hammett’s Red Harvest by Ron Scheer, who usually blogs about Old West stuff — worth checking out because of the lines:

But combine Hammett’s narrative style and the wild excesses of the novel’s storyline, and you have something that goes beyond deadpan to undisguised farce. . . . It’s not the Three Stooges, but you can see them from here.

And none other than our new Guest Blogger Michael S. Chong chips in with a perceptive comment!

Almost woke me right up. Then I slumped back into a vague stupor and stumbled off for more coffee.

Now at least half-awake and thinking about it, kind of a wild appraisal. Reminds me of when Sergio Leone was being hassled by Akira Kurosawa over A Fistful of Dollars which Kurosawa maintained was pirated from Yojimbo, which Kurosawa adapted (unofficially, to be sure) from Red Harvest. Leone said he took the plot from the “mid-1700s Commedia dell’Arte farce A Servant of Two Masters” (quoting myself from page 90 of the tour book).

Hey, there are worse things than being compared to the Three Stooges, but I’m guessing that the mindset of your usual Old West fan tends toward the more serious side of things (in real life, the Old West also gave us Mark Twain and the sardonic Ambrose Bierce, along with humorless gunhawks — though who’s to say that each and every gunhawk was morose?).

Anyway, as I always suggest to Old West guys, if you want a really interesting reading experience, track down the first few western novels written by Eugene Cunningham in the immediate wake of Red Harvest seeing serialization in the pulp Black Mask, where Cunningham also appeared. Riders of the Night, Buckaroo — cascades of Harvest-like violence. Later Cunningham dropped back to more typical action westerns, but the ones done when he was high on the gunsmoke wafting off Hammett’s seminal novel — great reading, if you’re a Hammett fan.

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