Hammett: Some Spaghetti with that Western, Please

As I was just saying in my last post, a guy from Spain came out on the tour and mentioned that Hammett’s novel Red Harvest had been made as a Spaghetti Western — and, no, he wasn’t talking about A Fistful of Dollars, which is Red Harvest off Yojimbo (see pages 89-91 in the tour book if you’re not acquainted with that cinema action).

I can’t recall ever hearing an inkling of that idea, but then I haven’t been following the Spaghetti Western closely in many a moon. Every once in a while I’ll watch one — or part of one — on On Demand or Netflix, but at this point it has shaken out so that I’m really only interested in the two Sergios. If I’ve missed anything good, with luck someone will tap me on the shoulder and say, Hey, you’ve got to see Death Rides a Horse, and I’ll say I caught it in a theatre in downtown Detroit circa 1967.

But our new pal Dr. Jesús Ángel González López of the Departamento de Filología in Universidad de Cantabria had the real scoop and popped me the video link above.

Jesús reports:

“The spaghetti-western adaptation of Red Harvest is called ‘La ciudad maldita’, it was produced in 1978 and acknowledges credits to Hammett and Red Harvest.

“The protagonist’s name is Op, the city’s name is Personville, and other names and plot lines are kept, as you can see in this trailer (even in Spanish).

“Apparently, they have kept most of the plot line, and adapted it into the
spaghetti western subgenre. I’ve been able to locate a copy and hope to get it
and watch it soon. I’m not too confident about its quality, though.

“Alberto Grimaldi is one of the co-producers. He was an Italian producer who
produced, among many other titles, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, lots of
other spaghetti westerns and Last Tango in Paris. Hence, the Bertolucci
connection (he also produced Novecento and, more recently, Gangs of New
York). Apparently, Grimaldi owns the rights and has tried to produce another
adaptation a couple of times.

“Steve Kesten (another producer) says that Bertolucci actually wrote a couple of scripts with Jack Nicholson in mind for the Op.”

On page 91 of the tour book I mention that Bertolucci once had his eye on Red Harvest as “an American Marxist opera,” but that ship has sunk. Likewise, Walter Hill really wanted to film it (covered on page 103), but could never clear the rights and so made Last Man Standing, off Yojimbo, in lieu of the full deal.

If you know the novel, you’ll have no problem IDing scenes in the trailer with Dinah Brand, etc & etc, though as always the actor playing the Op doesn’t seem to be either short or fat. You’ll never do the Op right until the actor is short and fat.

We can expect to hear more from Jesús, however, who says, “I’ll let you know what I think of the only acknowledged Red Harvest adaptation if I ever get my hands (and eyes) on it!”

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