Thursday, July 11, 2013


1982, US, directed by Wim Wenders

The troubled production history of Hammett seems to have overshadowed most assessments of its qualities, and while it can be hard to figure out whether the overriding sensibility is that of Wim Wenders or heavily-involved producer Francis Ford Coppola, I still found much to like in the final product, however compromised it may be. Given my love for studio cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, I loved the richly detailed sets, even if Wenders seems to have preferred a location-based approach; the obviousness of the settings somehow enhanced the sense of a plunge into a past time, which perhaps says much about how the movies have influenced (my) perception of the reality of those decades. Frederic Forrest is excellent in a rare lead role, bewildered by many of the narrative twists in fine noir style -- what would The Big Sleep be if you could actually understand it? -- and the support is top-notch: Elisha Cook Jr, Jack Nance and, most startling, Roy Kinnear are among the highlights, though some of the other survivors of old-time Hollywood got unfortunately short shrift in the reworked film, which is a pity. You do wonder what other footage might be out there in a vault somewhere, ripe for the Special Feature picking.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States