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October 20, 2009


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James Keepnews

Wow -- did this ever have any kind of Stateside release, in theaters or on video? I've seen it mentioned in Wenders filmographies before but I had no idea about its fascinating meta-movie structure, much less its incredible cast (good looking on your Garfield/Goorwitz shoutout). If I'd seen it at the time of its initial release, it sounds like it could have been my teenaged self's favorite film of the decade, i.e. lifetime...


"the eerie tale of a cursed film"



So does my enjoyment of Hammett (which I saw not too long ago for the first time) make me a huge Wenders apologist, Coppola apologist, or both?



To the best of my knowledge, this film had a limited release. I was fortunate to get a VHS copy years ago and it has always been a favorite. I'm glad to learn it is now available on DVD (in glorious black and white).

As mentioned in Glenn's review, great cast. Sam Fuller steals each scene he's in. My old friend, Allen Garfield, is perfect as the Coppola character. One of his best performances, along with the tune "Hollywood" which he created and performs at the end of the film. A pure gem.

You may or may not know, Allen suffered a massive stroke in 2004 and has been living @ the MPTF Home since then. Sadly, he and many others may be forced to move soon unless some sort of miracle happens to keep the place open. Running out of time.

Here's a link should you be interested in learning more:


"Hollywood, Hollywood, never been a place people had so good, like Hollywood, like Hollywood...

What did they do to your head, my friend, what did they do to your head?...what did they do to your head, my friend, in Hollywood...

When did you learn you were dead, my friend, when did you learn you were dead?...when did you learn you were dead, my friend, in Hollywood...

Hollywood, Hollywood, never been a place people had it so good, like Hollywood, like Hollywood"

-Allen Garfield

Keep a good thought.

Glenn Kenny

@ Jimmy: Thanks for the info. I think the situation involving the MPTF home is just awful. I will indeed keep a good thought for Allen and the rest of the folks there.

@ lazarus: My description of the circumstances of the creation of "Hammett" should in no way be taken as a dismissal of the film. It's been some time since I've seen it, but if memory serves, its final form is quite a bit better than it seems it might have had any right to be!


I was saddened to learn of Allen Garfield's condition. What a fine actor! I certainly hope that the terrible situation with the MPTF is satisfactorily resolved soon -- what a crime.

I thank Jimmy for posting the priceless lyrics to "Hollywood, Hollywood" -- the song is such a highlight of THE STATE OF THINGS.

Tom Carson

Glenn, has Wenders (or anyone) ever gone into detail about which elements of HAMMETT Coppola changed/distorted/wrecked? As I remember, it does give off a definite vibe of too many cooks, but I liked it quite a lot anyway. I'd also love to see STATE OF THINGS again -- bits like the confusion of camera and gun at the end have stuck with me forever -- and am depressed to hear about Garfield's situation. He was wonderful in it, as in most things he did.

Glenn Kenny

@ tc: A commenter on the Auteurs' piece left this link to a 2001 Wenders interview in which he does a bit of revisionism and waxes conciliatory re FFC:



Well, regarding HAMMETT, it would be interesting to see something of Brian Keith's performance in the Jimmy Ryan role; all of his work was completely re-shot with Peter Boyle. Ronee Blakley's work was similarly discarded when Marilu Henner replaced her as the picture's female lead.

Keith may simply have not been available for the re-shoot -- most of the film was re-shot -- but Blakley was replaced in large part because of the sudden ending of her marriage to director Wenders.



A comment written by Allen's sister, Lois, a month ago, on the MPTF petition. Breaks my heart/pisses me off. I hope Hollywood A-list step up before it's too late.

7:27 am PDT, Sep 23, Lois Goorwitz, New Jersey

My brother, Allen Garfield, was an actor for over 30 years. He has been at the MPTF long term skilled nursing facility since 2004 after having suffered a massive stroke. It is a sin, and quite sickening, that the MPTF has gone back on its long standing promise and commitment to take care of their own by closing this facility. Residents, including my brother, were promised that they would be taken care of for the rest of their lives. Was that a lie? Where is the commitment to charity for your own that was always a central mission of the MPTF?? And worse yet, staff are trying to scare and intimidate residents into leaving. This is a horrible state of affairs, and the executives should be ashamed of themselves. I can only hope that there will be enough outrage by the entertainment community so that the MPTH executives will be forced to retract their decision.

James Keepnews

Jimmy -- Thank for letting us know about the terrible circumstances surrounding the MPTF home and regarding Mr. Garfield's condition (+ for the note from Ms. Goorwitz). The mind reels thinking about all the great work he's done: _The Conversation_, _Hi, Mom!_, _Deadhead Miles_, probably my personal favorite of his, _Get Crazy_. Et, to be sure, cetera.

I'll definitely forward the petition link to my lists.


You're welcome James. Thanks for passing the MPTF/petition link to others who may be interested in learning what's going on.

I'm going to make an effort to visit Allen as his 70th birthday will be on Nov. 22. Need to make sure he's up for visitors before hand.

No question, he's done fine work over the years. A few of my favorites, besides the above mentioned, 'The State of Things' are 'The Conversation' 'Nashville' and 'The Stuntman'

Also, many years ago I had the pleasure of seeing him perform in Arthur Miller's 'A View From the Bridge' as Eddie. Man, that was a night in the theatre I'll never forget.

Great actor...wise teacher...good man...old friend.

Yes, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.


The Portugal scenes in STATE OF THINGS cast a wonderful spell. You can almost smell the sea breeze. There are a lot of parallels with Godard's PASSION, made around the same time. Even some of the same scenes of off-set torpor are reproduced in the two films.

The stuff in Los Angeles seems much less sure-footed to me, and I think the ending is misjudged. But this is probably the second-to-last of Wenders's fiction features I'd watch for pleasure.

Have folks seen Chris Petit's RADIO ON, from 1980? It's a British film that basically attempts to "do" a Wenders, from the high-contrast B&W photography to the attenuated narrative and Krautrock soundtrack. It's even got Wenders's wife, Lisa Kreuzer. It's lovely to look at but seems like so much attitudinizing--a criticism that could be leveled at most of Wenders's later work.

Mike Starr

I am a ex Emergency Medical Tech that got my start shortly after the movie Mother Jugs and Speed came out..Ive been a big fan of the movie for years..Im trying to put together a set of autographs of the cast...Im looking to see if Allen Garfeild is able to sign a still from the movie I have.Im currently in New Orleans (been here as a first responder since Katrina) but Michigan was home...can anyone help me...?



You can try sending it to Allen @

Motion Picture Television Home
23388 Mulholland Drive
Woodland Hills, CA. 91364

Attention: Allen Garfield (1 East)

I would include a self addressed-return envelope with correct postage to make it easy for him.

I called to wish him a Happy Birthday on Sunday, however he was not able to come to the phone. I was told that he was in good spirits and enjoying his day. Hopefully, I'll get out to visit him soon.

All the best with the still.


Thanking you on behalf of the residents in the long term care units the Motion Picture Home who cannot speak in this forum for themselves, and who wish to remain in their Home as they were promised. Here's a way you can help - a direct link to the online petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/keepthemptfhomeopen

We will let Mr. Garfield know that you are thinking of him, and of work, and of his friends at MPTF, and will read these posts to him.

Mike Starr

Thank You Jimmy Ill get that sent out this week,,,,,,Funny I would be thinking of him the day before his birthday.......

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