The small northwestern mining town of Personville has been taken over lock stock
and barrel by gangsters. It’s up to the Continental Op to return “Poisonville”
to the decent citizens – if there are any.
The Op systematically turns faction against faction, and they obligingly begin to
wipe each other out. As the bloodbath escalates, he discovers – to his own horror
– that he’s actually enjoying the carnage.
Red Harvest first appeared in Black Mask, serialized over four issues, spanning October
1927 to January 1928. Hammett reworked it somewhat for hardback publication in February
With one exception (more about that in a moment), there has never been a movie version
of Red Harvest, although several movies have used its plot (without giving credit). These
include the samurai adventure Yojimbo, and the spaghetti western Fistful of Dollars.
Probably the closest clone of all was Last Man Standing, starring Bruce Willis, which,
like Red Harvest, was set in the late 1920s.
The one and only movie in which Red Harvest and Dashiell Hammett were credited as
the source material was a 1978 Spanish language western entitled La ciudad maldita
(which means, more or less, “City of the Damned”), directed by Spanish director Juan
Bosch. According to Jesús A. González, a teacher at the University of Cantabria,
Spain, “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 (in Spanish). Apparently,
they have kept most of the plot line, and adapted it into the spaghetti western sub-genre.”