In the early 20th century, some convicts while on a road gang escape and one of the convicts is Zach Provo, a half Indian, who was sent to prison during the latter part of the 19th century.... See full summary »
Andrew V. McLaglen
In the depression, Chaney, a strong silent streetfighter, joins with Speed, a promoter of no-holds-barred street boxing bouts. They go to New Orleans where Speed borrows money to set up ... See full summary »
Based on Terry Southern's satirical novel, a sendup of Voltaire's -Candide-. Young Candy is a high school girl who seeks truth and meaning in life, encountering a variety of kookie characters and humorous sexual situations in the process.
Sara and Kurt Muller and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe. A Romanian Count living there discovers Kurt's attache case full ... See full summary »
Sidney Poitier returned to the big screen in this action-thriller, after a decade-long absence. When a cunning murderer vanishes into the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, pursuing... See full summary »
Ed Beaumont is the personal friend, advisor and bodyguard to Paul Madvig, the political boss of a large city. When a mysterious murder is committed---the son of a Madvig political opponent-... See full summary »
Hard-boiled private dick Hamilton Nash is hired to investigate a case of stolen diamonds, which leads him to a lovely and odd young woman named Gabrielle, who believes she has been stricken with the ancient curse of the Dain family. The curse has historically caused its victims to die prematurely. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Someone, back in the misty reaches of 1977-78, had a pretty good idea: Take Dashiell Hammett's "The Dain Curse" and turn it into a TV mini-series "event." The novel itself, after all, had started out as a serialization in "Black Mask" magazine, and a legion of readers had faithfully followed its plot convolutions there, so why -- or so the reasoning must have gone -- shouldn't it work equally well on the installment plan by spreading a TV dramatization out over several nights?
This, unfortunately, was the last good idea experienced by anybody in conjunction with the production.
Any number of object lessons can -- and should be --drawn from what wound up being presented as "Dashiell Hammett's The Dain Curse." (Presumably, to differentiate it from "Joe Blow's The Dain Curse," an important distinction.) Object lesson #1: If you're going to slavishly follow a plot that has enough twists and turns and old fashioned red herrings to make "The Canterbury Tales" read like "Dick And Jane Floss Their Teeth," then you'd best make sure you've at least got a director and cast who can maintain a pace that will keep your audience riveted. Otherwise, you run the risk of numerous viewers snapping awake simultaneously during a commercial break and saying "For THIS we missed 'Three's Company?'"
Similarly, if you're going to adhere to the plot (and its dialogue), it's generally a good idea to cast actors who can carry it off. The novel's short and fat, middle-aged (but extremely tough) protagonist happens to also be anonymous, all for a purpose; changing him into the tall and thin, dapper (but extremely sardonic) James Coburn and giving him a name like Hamilton Nash (sounds like Dashiell Hammett, get it? wink! wink!) may gain you a bit of star power, except that he hasn't a clue how to relate to his material.
Equally to the point, if you decide to change the story's setting from San Francisco and the central California coast to New York City and some generic seashore locale, keep in mind that any number of Hammett partisans -- whose teeth are already set in terminal-grind mode by this point -- are going to expect you to have a very good reason for doing so.
In fairness, it should be mentioned that all concerned appear to give it their best shot (Hector Elizondo, as small-town sheriff Ben Cotton, and Jason Miller, as Owen Fitzstephan, are both standouts) as this "event" lurches from situation to situation; unfortunately, best shots here have a tendency to fall short of the mark, rather like a trapeze artist who can never quite make that third midair somersault in time or a high-wire artist with chronic nosebleed. The end result is a traveling circus, gamely striking its tent and moving on but getting . . . you guessed it!
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