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Hammett (1982)

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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.

Director:

Wim Wenders

Writers:

Joe Gores (novel), Dennis O'Flaherty | 2 more credits »
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Frederic Forrest ... Hammett
Peter Boyle ... Jimmy Ryan
Marilu Henner ... Kit Conger / Sue Alabama
Roy Kinnear ... English Eddie Hagedorn
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Eli the Taxi Driver (as Elisha Cook)
Lydia Lei ... Crystal Ling
R.G. Armstrong ... Lt. O'Mara
Richard Bradford ... Detective Bradford
Michael Chow ... Fong Wei Tau
David Patrick Kelly ... The Punk
Sylvia Sidney ... Donaldina Cameron
Jack Nance ... Gary Salt
Elmer Kline Elmer Kline ... Doc Fallon
Royal Dano ... Pops
Samuel Fuller ... Old Man in Pool Hall
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 September 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Investigación en el Barrio Chino See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$42,914

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$42,914
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Zoetrope Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A number of actors from the Golden Age of Old Hollywood were cast in the picture. These were Royal Dano, Hank Worden and Elisha Cook Jr.. 'Time Out' declared that the film was "bit-cast with iconic veterans". See more »

Quotes

Hammett: Don't be a simp'; you don't think they're going to let you waltz, do you?... You're going up against one hundred, two hundred, three hundred million dollars. You're going up against the powerhouse, angel - the big steam.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Reverse Angle: Ein Brief aus New York (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

"Shouldn't we do something legal?"
20 May 2009 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

I didn't really expect my first forray into Wenders to be a fictionalized pulpy detective story homage to the patriarch of pulpy detective stories, writer Dashiell Hammett, produced by Coppola's Zoetrope Studios, but there you have it. Strangely, I'm not even sure this is a Wenders film in anything but name, as Coppola himself allegedly had to reshoot one and a half years after Wenders wrapped shooting significant portions of a film his backers found very 'dissatisfying'. Par the course for a film that had to undergo so much revamping to please money men, Hammett is a mess, albeit an interesting mess.

If the premise sounds good enough, pulpy writer Dashiell Hammett being drawn one last time into his detective past as a favour to a former Pinkerton colleague whom he helps investigate the disappearance of an underage Chinese prostitute, the script never quite fulfills its potential. Not because it's sprawling and convoluted (the best noirs usually are), but because it's just that for all the wrong reasons, and on top of that half-baked and unconvincing. At times it plays almost like a Dick Tracy caricature of noir plots.

Most interesting thing about it however are the meta- aspects of the story, probably what drew Wenders into the fold (apart from his fascination with American genre cinema). Writer Hammett playing detective Hammett, the lines between reality and fiction blurring dangerously as he does. But the film never runs with it, as though afraid it might alienate a mainstream audience that likely had little vested interest in such a film to begin with.

The opening sequence shows what might have been: having just finished his latest novel, Hammett lies down playing out the ending in his head; after a violent coughing fit, he staggers back into his living room only to find waiting for him the hero of his book. Is Hammett hallucinating in the grip of alcohol and tuberculosis or does he base his fictional characters on people he knows?

The ending tries to bring all that back full circle but it's too little too late. The movie has dawdled a little too much in squeaky clean Zoetrope sets trying to pass for 1920's San Francisco, has tripped over the needlessly convoluted mess it creates for its characters. It's still a fun watch, the cast is populated by familiar faces (three Twin Peaks actors, Sam Fuller, Elisha Cook Jr.), and Frederic Forrest gives a good show. Interesting curio, not much else, Hammett fans will probably dig it significantly more than me.


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