1 October 2017 | bkoganbing
Three self contained mysteries
Noting in the Wikipedia article on Dashiell Hammett only 3 of his 5 full length novels became motion pictures. But the three The Thin Man, The Glass Key and The Maltese Falcon became classic films all. The Maltese Falcon as we know was done 3 times as well.
A fourth one The Dain Curse was deliberately segmented into three self contained mysteries which for purposes of adaption fitted nicely into the television mini-series format.
James Coburn played our protagonist/cynical hero Hamilton Nash and I think Coburn should have done more detective stories, he was perfectly cast for the part.
It starts out as an investigation of a jewel robbery of a family the Leggetts. It's Coburn who deduces that he thinks the robbery story has a lot of holes in it. The Leggatts are Paul Harding, wife Beatrice Straight and her stepdaughter Nancy Addison. Straight is also Addison's blood aunt, Harding's first wife was Straight's sister. They are members of the Dain family upon which it is said there is a legendary curse.
One who tries hard to convince Nash there's something to this curse business is Jason Miller, Coburn's hard drinking novelist buddy. As this is 1928 and Prohibition rules the land that was some hard drinking indeed.
The Dain Curse might be the bloodiest novel Dashiell Hammett ever wrote. Several members of the Dain family die here including those who married into the family and those who had some involvement with them. Still Coburn thinks there's a guiding intelligence at work here and of course he's right.
A lot of expense went into this production and you really do think you're in 1928, cars and costumes definitely authentic.
Look for good performances by Jean Simmons as a cult church leader, Hector Elizondo as a hick sheriff, and the future Data from Star Trek, The Next Generation Brent Spiner as one of the cult members in good standing.
The Dain Curse is definitely worth watching for more than James Coburn and Dashiell Hammett fans.