Why is this an astounding coincidence? Because, to all intents and purposes, The Hateful Eight (Les Huit Salopards, as it is called in France) seems to be a typically Tarantino-esque remake of the Anderson play, and the Huston movie of it.
To remind those who have forgotten, Key Largo is the story of a criminal gang who have taken over a hotel on the seafront in the Florida Keys, with the aim of doing a deal with another mob that will aid the gang's leader, Johnny Rocco, in his attempts to escape his federal pursuers. His plans go awry, in part, due to a monstrous hurricane that keeps him on land while he had intended to be en route to Cuba.
Tarantino's film is transferred to land-locked Wyoming in the dead of winter a few years after the Amarican Civil War and the criminal gang are a bunch of confederate sympathisers trying to retrieve a female gang member who has been captured by bounty hunters. Other similarities include a snowstorm replacing the hurricane, a dead son of an old military man, and a number of innocent victims.
I am afraid I have long been of the opinion that Tarantino started brilliantly with his script for True Romance and has been going downhill ever since. His scripts remain clever - and I am not trying to be pejorative in using the word. He sets up situations replete with menace and irony - here the interdependence of a black bounty hunter and a racist sheriff. He continues his propensity for swapping the chronology of his action to add suspense and character interest - the film's story as told would be significantly less 'thrilling' if it were told chronologically.
He has also, from a technical standpoint, bucked the trend in choosing Ultra Panavision 70 as the visual format. But as, like Key Largo, 80% of the action is confined to a large saloon-style room, he doesn't really show the format off to its best effect for the most of the film.
Stylistically we get nods to Hitchcock and Peckinpah, and, probably, many more, but I wasn't sufficiently interested to seek out all the references. As this is a spoiler-free review, I won't mention the detail of what I regard as the film's major fault - its tastelessness. Suffice to say that the directors love of covering his canvas with gore is not withheld.
On the plus side, he has fun with a situation in which every few sentences someone is called a 'nigger' or a 'nigger-lover' - but he anachronistically allows one of his characters to accuse another of "racism", a term that didn't exist until almost 50 years after the events as presented. He is reasonably, and occasionally well served by his cast, notably the almost unrecognisable Jennifer Jason Leigh as the hapless Daisy Domergue, who manages to be truly menacing until the bitter end.
For all of its ironies and very convincingly presented freezing snowstorm, The Hateful Eight has nothing profound to say and adds not very much to Tarantino's two keynote items - the gunpoint confrontation and the chronologically twisted plot.
Footnote for film presentation historians: the Analogue 70mm version of the film sports a twelve minute overture which allows Ennio Morricone to show off his very eloquent, if occasionally OTT score. This used to be present for many 70mm presentations in the late 50s and early 60s - West Side Story being the finest example of which I am aware.