The SFFaudio Podcast #438 – Jesse, Scott, Paul Weimer, Julie Davis, and Rose discuss Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett.
Talked about on today’s show:
Paul’s adventures in Australia and New Zealand adventures, all of Middle Earth, 1929, Black Mask, 1928, Yojimbo (1961), A Fist full Of Dollars (1964), Last Man Standing (1996), William Sanderson, Christopher Walken, Walter Hill, the Continental Op, a mystery (kind of), history retold in a rhyming fashion, what is the motivation of our unnamed protagonist?, to straighten up the town, Poisonville doesn’t treat him right, poison, compare to The Maltese Falcon, Tishiro Mifune, Sanjuro, mulberry field, motivated to make money, a good heart, The Glass Key, a common type of plot, third or fourth tier, the history of Hammett himself, motivation for a masterless samurai, all the reports he’s not sending, the old man, at a higher level, he knows deep down, in his right mind, that laudanum dream, gin and laudanum, from Adams apple to ankles, wait what?, corruption, bootlegger, gambler, no takes-backsies, Elihu, no personal stake, he doesn’t like them, I’m just mean enough, no no, because Dashiell Hammett wanted it to be novel length, corrupt police, rotten to the core, ostensibly to clean up the town, still echoing back, personal glee, burn it to the ground, echoed and repeated, they beat up his car (instead of his burro), a Clint Eastwood look-a-like, Sergio Leone, a very American iconic character, why that’s necessary, from a first person perspective, how reliable is the narrator?, I couldn’t tell the bosses that, the murder, as faithful as the third person descriptive, upset, not a normal code, no one did right by him, the Pinkertons, motivated by a real incident, what he was involved in, it doesn’t fit otherwise, he’s lying to his corporation, he’s trying to make his country better, a communist, corrupted government, when you say involved, Butte, Montana, the wobblies, a great metaphor, “involved”, they weren’t “detecting”, in this period and at that place, union busting, private contractors, Carnegie, steel workers, the strikers had to do their own bleeding, the standoff at Standing Rock, North Dakota, infiltrators, the 1920s, union vs. magnate battles, wield the might of a mercenary force, boxing match, the bloodiest, his noodle, body parts, awesomely described, what a wordsmith, a red haired mucker, “a shoit”, richardsnary, so much information in so few words, a mucker is a tough guy, Edgar Rice Burroughs, coming out of the war, underemployed, ride the rails, the good squad or the anti-goon squad, all over the world the Industrial Workers Of The World, a fight between the gilded age owners and the workers, beautiful cynicism, an acknowledged literary landmark, the first hard-boiled detective book?, no softening to this, Dinah Brand, no one remembers his (?) name, Carroll John Daly, Borderlands, the peace summit in The Godfather, the Fallout series, in 2010 Playboy made an MMO called Poisonville, Grand Theft Auto, super-iconic, their sheriff is weak, the Japanese take, the decline of the old way, only a visit from the overarching government can stop the violence, the Mexican and gun-running and rum-running, all rum-runners, horrible corruption within every layer of government, incredibly oppressive, mapping all the streets, Hurricane Road, Mountain View, Dell Mapbacks, a real living place from in the book, 40,000 people, Scott’s mind’s eye, an amazing amount of criminal activity, Ogden, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, railroad hubs, the richest hill on earth, what downtown Butte looks like, the city wasn’t pretty, gaudiness, yellow smoked into uniformed dinginess, perfect, the old man in bed, The Big Sleep, who employs these detectives, it feels quite different from later P.I. novels, how modern, a throwback, the cynicism and the coolness and the alcohol, every page is soaked in gin, soaked in a corpse, prohibition, unpleasant whiskey, the femme fatale character, coarse hair, an unbecoming wine color, you’re legs are too fat, the best Poisonville has to offer in women, an old case, so undesirable, all she cares about is money, did you expect differently, always about the expense account, $200.10, she takes the dime,
“You’re drunk, and I’m drunk, and I’m just exactly drunk enough to tell you anything you want to know. That’s the kind of girl I am. If I like a person, I’ll tell them anything they want to know. Just ask me. Go ahead, ask me.”
she is poison, the poison pill, the kid who is in love with her, he can kill for her, Walter Neff, Double Indemnity, no runs there, Barbara Stanwyck, James M. Cain, petty, horrible human beings who somehow find each other, Ronin (1998), a way out, he has to live there, The Hidden Fortress, the Western in Feudal Japan, the humour is against the violence, the literal Red Harvest he sows and then reaps, exactly parallel, the Star Wars cantina scene, brutality, we’ve become soft, a genre, conventions, all the drinking, that’s what you do when you can’t escape, if you’re not half in the bag when you meet her, more alcohol, really odd, some of it fat, judging everyone’s height, continually yanking you back to reality, unromantic and ugly, Edward G. Robinson, middle aged, he’s seen a lot of mileage, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Blade Runner, the look and the corruption, Blood Simple, M. Emmet Walsh, the corrupt cop, he’s not even a boss!, the visit to the big boss up in the tower, the femme fatale turns out to be a robot, The Postman Always Rings Twice, uncombed hair, greasy and dirty and horrible, you’re compelled and you can’t stop, Rose’s favourite Hammett book, unrelenting, he uses what they care about to tear them down, Dan Rolf, if he got fired, his code and only his code, the simple case, the blood simple speech, that is the most personal we ever hear from the Continental Op, dear readers, the joy he takes, he remembers who all of them are, so much in such a short amount of time, hero progression, Continental Op -> Sam Spade -> The Thin Man, extraordinarily human, not very likeable, his wife, moral qualms, I’m gonna sit here and drink, very genre focused, we’re not going to experience exactly the same things, the people who own everything,
For forty years old Elihu Wilson…had owned Personville, heart, soul, skin and guts. He was president and majority stock-holder of the Personville Mining Corporation, ditto of the First National Bank, owner of Morning Herald and Evening Herald, the city’s only newspapers, and at least part owner of nearly every other enterprise of any importance. Along with these pieces of property he owned a United States senator, a couple of representatives, the governor, the mayor, and most of the state legislature.
look what your father’s got his fingers in, so perfect, a lot tighter, having two gangs, playing both sides against the middle, a bit too complex, what ruins Last Man Standing, the music is so good in Yojimbo and A Fistful Of Dollars, starts and ends violence, from light comedy to brutal man-slaying, conventional narration, Bruce Willis’ voice-over, Julie likes the original cut of Blade Runner, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, not all narration (hash tag?), feeling the way he reacts, poking a face in, I don’t really care whose doing what, I stepped into the room the way my foot would, buckets of blood, it shouldn’t be faithfully adapted, read the short stories, well conceived, well written, it doesn’t matter where you grab it, the audiobook narrator Richard Ferrone, Lawrence Block, first person narration, conspiratorial whispering narration, told in confidence over a cup of coffee in Hopper’s Nighthawks.
Posted by Jesse Willis