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Directed by Wim Wenders
Produced in 1982
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
1940s San Francisco is the setting for the exploits of crime-writer novelist Dashiell Hammett in this Coppola-produced film. Its dreamlike atmosphere is captivating, says Nick Riddle.
Beautiful and strangely dreamlike, Hammett floats along like the stylish, tobacco-tinted ghost of an old film noir.
Set in 1940s San Francisco, it follows the exploits of real-life crime-writer Dashiell Hammett as he becomes involved in a complex missing person case. Wisecracks are cracked, shadows are boxed, femmes are fatale. Seldom has the figure of the hard-bitten private eye been so likeable as Frederic Forrest’s Hammett, but he heads a classy cast that includes actors from Hollywood’s heyday, including Elisha Cook Jr, Sylvia Sidney and Hank Worden.
Hammett has come close to slipping off Wim Wenders’ official CV, owing to its troubled production: Francis Ford Coppola hired Wenders to direct it, but on seeing the result, demanded that a great amount of it be re-shot – a task he undertook himself, according to some accounts.
Hardly surprising, then, that the look of Hammett – with gorgeous cinematography and painstakingly designed studio sets – is reminiscent of Coppola’s work of the period. But perhaps one sees Wenders’ hand in the restrained performances, and Forrest’s Zen-like calm.
Nick Riddle on 26th August 2011
Author of 77 reviews
A noir mystery set in 1940s San Francisco, Hammett evocatively recreates the mood of the genre. The movie, based on the novel by Joe Gores, follows the exploits of real-life crime-writer novelist Dashiell Hammett (Frederic Forrest) as he becomes involved in a complex missing person case, trying to track down Chinese actress Crystal Ling (Lydia Lei) for his former detective agency friend Jimmy Ryan (Peter Boyle).
Publisher: Studio Canal
Length: 93 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 7th November 2011
Cat No: OPTD2043