AS SEEN IN:
'The Dain Curse'
AS SEEN IN:
(Possibly they could share Earth Prime-Time.)
The Continental Op is a fictional character created by Dashiell Hammett. A private investigator employed as an operative of the Continental Detective Agency's San Francisco office, he never gives his name and so is known only by his job description.
The Continental Op is a master of deceit in the exercise of his profession. In "$106,000 Blood Money", for instance, the Op is confronted with two dilemmas: shall he expose a corrupt fellow detective, thereby hurting the reputation of his agency; and shall he also allow an informant to collect the $106,000 reward in a big case even though he is morally certain — but cannot prove — that the informant has murdered one of his agency's clients? The Op resolves his two problems neatly by manipulating events so that the corrupt detective and the informant get into an armed confrontation in which both are killed.
Decades of witnessing human cruelty, misery, and ruin, as well as being instrumental in sending hundreds of people to jail, or to the gallows, have greatly weakened the Op's natural sympathy with his fellow men. He fears becoming like his boss, "The Old Man", whom he describes as "a shell, without any human feelings whatsoever".
The Op can be regarded as a protoype for the hardboiled detective exemplified in such characters as Hammett's Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer, and others.
In 1978, "The Dain Curse" was made into a six-hour CBS television miniseries starring James Coburn. For the miniseries, the Op was named Hamilton Nash (his creator's name spelled "sideways.")
"You came in just now, and then I saw -#"
"A monster. A nice one, an especially nice one to have around when you're in trouble, but a monster just the same, without any human foolishness like love in him, and - What's the matter? Have I said something I shouldn't?"
I've written about aspects of the mini-series in the past, having seen the mini-series only last year:
Christopher Lloyd played the Continental Op in an episode of the anthology series 'Fallen Angels' ("Fly Paper"). As Hammett intended, his name is never mentioned, so it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that this Op exists in Earth Prime-Time as well, working for the same agency as Hamilton Nash. (But for a different branch, as the Op's "Old Man" is different from that of Hamilton Nash.) I haven't seen this production, but if it did conflict, we can always send it another TV dimension, even though he might better fit Hammett's intent by having no name.....