Open main menu

Hammett is a 1982 American neo-noir mystery film directed by Wim Wenders and executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The screenplay was written by Ross Thomas and Dennis O'Flaherty, based on the novel of the same name by Joe Gores. It stars Frederic Forrest as detective story writer Dashiell Hammett, who gets caught up in a mystery very much like one of his own stories. Marilu Henner plays Hammett's neighbor, Kit Conger, and Peter Boyle plays Jimmy Ryan, an old friend from Hammett's days as a Pinkerton agent.

Hammett (1982 movie - DVD case).jpg
DVD release cover
Directed byWim Wenders
Produced byRonald Colby
Don Guest
Fred Roos
Screenplay byRoss Thomas
Dennis O'Flaherty
Story byThomas Pope
Based onHammett
by Joe Gores
StarringFrederic Forrest
Peter Boyle
Marilu Henner
Roy Kinnear
Music byJohn Barry
CinematographyJoseph Biroc
Philip H. Lathrop[1][2]
Edited byJanice Hampton
Marc Laub
Robert Q. Lovett
Randy Roberts
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Warner Bros.
Release date
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film was entered into the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.[3]



San Francisco-based Dashiell Hammett, trying to put his Pinkerton detective days behind him while establishing himself as a writer, finds himself drawn back into his old life one last time by the irresistible call of friendship and to honor a debt.

In 1928, Hammett, known to his librarian neighbor Kit and other acquaintances as "Sam," is holed up in a cheap apartment, hard at work at his typewriter each day. He drinks heavily, smokes too much and has coughing fits.

One day, a friend and mentor from his Pinkerton days, Jimmy Ryan, turns up with a request, that Hammett help him track down a Chinese prostitute named Crystal Ling in the Chinatown district of San Francisco, an area Hammett is more familiar with than Ryan is.

Hammett is soon pulled into a multi-layered plot, losing the only copy of his manuscript, wondering how and why Ryan has vanished, being followed by a tough-talking gunsel, discovering a million-dollar blackmail scheme and being deceived by the diabolical Crystal, right up to a final confrontation near the San Francisco wharf.



German director Wenders was hired by Francis Ford Coppola to direct this film, which was to be his American debut feature. Coppola and the film's studio, Orion, were dissatisfied with the original cut, and reshot nearly the entire film. This has subsequently led to allegations that the majority of the final cut was not directed by Wenders, but by Coppola himself.[4] Wenders made a short film called Reverse Angle documenting his disputes with Coppola surrounding the making of Hammett. As The A.V. Club review states, "A Coppola or Wenders commentary track might have sorted things out a bit—or at least settled an old score—but the bare-bones DVD release leaves viewers with a fascinating mess."[4] The reviewer, though, never says what the source of his information is, and the question of the degree and nature of Coppola's involvement in the directing of the film remains open. However, the confusion surrounding the making of the movie "would certainly explain some of the films’ oddities."[5] In a 2015 interview, with Indiewire, Wenders claimed that he directed the entirety of the released version. He also stated that the first version was junked and is now lost.[6]


Boyle took over the role of Jimmy Ryan from Brian Keith, who left allegedly because the lengthy production conflicted with other commitments. Keith can be seen in some long shots in the film.

A number of actors from the "Golden Age" of Hollywood were cast in the film, including Hank Worden, Royal Dano, and Elisha Cook, Jr. (who played Wilmer "the gunsel" in John Huston's 1941 film The Maltese Falcon).[7]


  1. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Hammett". Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  4. ^ a b Noel Murray (2005-11-16). "Hammett review". The Onion A.V. Club. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  5. ^ Robert Munro (2011-11-05). "Hammett review". Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  6. ^ Perez, Rodrigo. "Wim Wenders Sets The Record Straight On His Forgotten Francis Ford Coppola-Produced Noir 'Hammett' | IndieWire". Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  7. ^ "Hammett 1982". Retrieved January 13, 2017.

External linksEdit