Re: RARA-AVIS: American Masters show on Hammett

Geraldine Kudaka (
Wed, 28 Jul 1999 02:23:50 -0700

Pity they didn't show the Hammet back to back with the Hellman documentary.

While I agree with William that the Hammet doc attempted to capture some of the flavor of the period, its like comparing the bare, essential style of the old noir masters to the florid prose of some writers today. Unlike the past, when writers could submit short manuscripts for publication, we now see novels plumped up to longer lengths. These longer lengths don't necessarily mean th plor is more complex, or there's more their -- sometimes it's just fluffed up so the buying public will feel like they're getting their money's worth.

I think there's an equivalent to that in filmmaking. When you have to get florid to tell the story -- especially in a documentary -- then you're trying to make up in style for what is lacking in content.

The Hellman doc had rat-a-tat editing of talking heads. It was fast paced, like good tight writing. Of course, the doc had enough raw material so that the variety could be maintained.

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