Hammett: From Ape-Wrangler to Town-Tamer

The other day Evan Lewis tracked down another “lost” movie version of Red Harvest, that would have followed the “lost” version starring Alan Ladd at Paramount — Ladd’s being juggled in 1941 and this next version getting a big blurb by Louella O. Parsons in her column in mid-March 1942.

After the project with Ladd fell apart, some hopeful type tried to keep it going with the actor Bruce Cabot set for the lead.

I wonder how far that one got before it did a nosedive.

Cabot would have made a more authentic tough guy than Ladd in the role, but at over 6’1″ he wasn’t short and he wasn’t fat — not that I would expect Hollywood to cast some short fat actor in the gumshoes of the Continental Op. Even today.

His IMDb page is interesting. Best known (if known at all) as the manly swab Jack Driscoll opposite Fay Wray in the 1933 King Kong — but what a toehold on cinematic history. Apparently auditioned for the role of Ringo Kid in Stagecoach, but lost it to John Wayne. Right there, one hit the road to superstardom and the other faded into the background. Last film role, a backup character in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) — a canonical Bond/Connery-as-Bond flick.

Now I’m wondering whether or not our resident Autograph Hound Brian Leno has Cabot’s John Hancock. He might — he’s got Fay Wray.

But does Brian have a signature under Cabot’s full birth name Etienne Pelissier Jacques de Bujac?

Get on it, Brian.

Never in a million years would I have pulled that name out of the hat for Bruce Cabot.

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