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Hammett (1982)

Fictional account of real-life mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, and his involvement in the investigation of a beautiful Chinese cabaret actress' mysterious disappearance in San Francisco.



(novel), | 2 more credits »

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2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jimmy Ryan
English Eddie Hagedorn
Eli the Taxi Driver (as Elisha Cook)
Lt. O'Mara
Detective Bradford
Michael Chow ...
Fong Wei Tau
Donaldina Cameron
Gary Salt
Elmer Kline ...
Old Man in Pool Hall


The novel writer Dashiell Hammett is involved in the investigation of the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful Chinese cabaret actress in San Francisco. Written by Michel Rudoy <mdrc@hp9000a1.uam.mx>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He Created 'The Maltese Falcon," "Sam Spade" and "The Thin Man". But He Didn't Write This Mystery-Thriller...He Lived It. See more »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 September 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Investigación en el Barrio Chino  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,222, 19 September 1982, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Wim Wenders made a 17 minute short film called "Reverse Angle" [Reverse Angle: Ein Brief aus New York (1982)] which was partially about the making of this movie, the problems encountered and the alleged conflict he had with Francis Ford Coppola. Wenders' website says of it: "In this segment, Wenders juxtaposes "New Wave" music, a neon lit Manhattan, the "Hammett (1982)" editing rooms, a session with Francis Ford Coppola, a book by Emmanuel Bove, and the paintings of Edward Hopper with his personal thoughts on the art of making movies in Europe and in America". See more »


Crystal Ling: He was good.
Hammett: He was the best - in his heyday.
See more »


Referenced in The Dream Studio (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

She's a disaster.
17 August 2015 | by See all my reviews

Hammett is a fictional story about the great writer Dashiell Hammett (played by Frederic Forrest). The story finds the writer retired from the Pinkerton Detectice Agency and nursing bad lungs and a taste for the liquor. When old colleague Jimmy Ryan (Peter Boyle) comes a calling, Hammett finds himself down in Frisco's Chinatown district in it up to his neck in muck and grime.

The back story to the production of Hammett is long and disappointing, all of which makes for fascinating reading and available at the click of a mouse. The film we have to view now may not be the one originally envisaged by director Wim Wenders, but on repeat viewings it shows itself to be a very loving homage to the halcyon days of film noir, a film of great technical craft and guile. Though not without issues either...

Production value is high, the set design that brings late 1920s Frisco to life is a joy, as is Joseph Biroc's luscious colour photography. John Barry provides a musical score that smoothly floats around the Gin Joints and Alleyways, while costuming is on the money. Cast are led superbly by the under valued Forrest, with Marilu Henner (Biroc lights her so well), Boyle and Lydia Lei striking the requisite film noir chords, while a host of cameos and short order roles will have the keen of eye putting names to the faces from similar films of yesteryear.

The story is complex, which is purposely complimented by narration, canted angles, slatted shadows, billowing smoke, and of course a number of venues that all anti-heroic detectives must traverse to unravel the mystery bubbling away under the seamy surface. The problems are evident of course, it's a very uneven picture, the re-writes etc leaving a disappointing mark. It's also like watching a performance at the theatre, akin to watching a play, the predominantly stage bound shoot - and the almost forced delivery of lines - makes it synthetic.

But ultimately there's a lot of noir love here, enough to ensure that repeat viewings for those of that persuasion should find themselves rewarded for their time. 7/10

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