Written by: George Pacheco on February 18th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1978 (T.V. Mini-Series)
Director: E.W. Swackhamer
Writer: Dashiell Hammett
Cast: James Coburn, Hector Elizondo, Jason Miller, Jean Simmons
DVD Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 300 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Screen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
The Dain Curse is a dreary, dreadful and boring detective mini-series from 1978, a small screen adaptation of a novel from author Dashiell Hammett which struggles to maintain any semblance of energy or interest throughout its bloated, nearly four hour running time.
Lead actor James Coburn does his best to deliver a hard boiled and intelligent performance as Hamilton Nash, a detective who falls into an ancient family curse during his investigation into some stolen diamonds. Murder and conspiracy soon rear their ugly heads as a dizzying array of betrayals, double-crosses and red herrings all do their best to do Nash in as he makes his way through a bevy of cads, dames and suspects in this roaring twenties tale.
The Dain Curse does nothing to retain its audience’s attention, however, despite the mini-series’ adherence to police procedural and investigative dialog. There’s simply no excitement or adventure here in Nash’s investigation, an aspect which isn’t much assisted by the flat visuals and hammy acting from many of Coburn’s costars. Still, James himself is winsome and endearing as the detective with an inner monologue, yet not even Coburn’s massive star power can save The Dain Curse from being a chore to sit through, even for the heartiest of mystery hounds.
Scorpion Releasing presents The Dain Curse in its original, television full frame aspect ratio, with colors appearing surprisingly well, considering the series’ age. The sound is similarly solid, with the period jazz score bouncing nicely behind the actor’s dialogue. There are no extras of which to speak, but Scorpion does present The Dain Curse in its original and uncut format, as opposed to the truncated cuts which previously permeated the home video market. This in mind, Scorpion gives The Dain Curse an honorable treatment here, indeed.