Hamman, Joë


Hamman, Joë
(1885-1974)
   Actor and director. Joë Hamman was born Jean Hamman in Paris. His father was a painter and his mother a lady in waiting to the Empress Eugénie, so Hamman was surrounded by the world of arts and letters and Parisian high society. He studied art and was presumed to follow in his father's footsteps. However, the Wild West called Hamman, and when he was seventeen, he went to the United States, specifically to Montana and Nebraska. There, Hamman apparently spent time on an Indian reservation, learned to ride horses, and met Buffalo Bill, his childhood idol. He later joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and it was when traveling with the show that he returned to France in 1905.
   Upon his return, Hamman, who had adopted the name Joë, was recruited by Jean Durand to star in Western films for Gaumont. He appeared in Pendaison à Jefferson City (1910) and Le Railway de la mort (1911). He also appeared in the burlesque Western Calino veut être cowboy (1911). Apart from starring in the films, it was apparently Hamman who had the idea to shoot the films in France's southern Camargue region, finding the terrain and the horseriding tradition similar to what he had seen in the United States. This Camargue Western, as Hamman would develop it, was an important precursor to the Spaghetti Westerns of later decades.
   Hamman remained at Gaumont until 1910 or 1911, appearing in other films, including Louis Feuillade's La Fin d'une révolution américaine (1912), Dans la brousse (1912), and Au pays des lions (1912). However, at that time, he was lured away by Éclipse Studios exclusively to develop the Camargue Western, and he was given full creative control. It is not entirely clear whether or not the famous and enormously popular Arizona Bill series in which Hamman starred was done at Gaumont, or whether it was done for Éclipse. The series, which ran from 1911 to 1913, is typically credited to Durand, but it seems more likely that Hamman directed several of the episodes and that the rest were directed by Gaston Roudès. World War I interrupted Hamman's activities, and he seems not to have made another film until it was over.
   After the war, Hamman again directed films, beginning with Le Gardien (1920) and including Un caprice de la Pompadour (1930), Les Monts en flammes (1931), and Grock (1931). However, he spent most of the rest of his career acting, appearing in such films as Gaston Ravel's Tao (1923), Jean Kemm's L'Enfant roi (1923), René Leprince's Le Vert galant (1924), Feullade and Maurice Champreux's Le Stigmate (1924), and Henri Desfontaines's Le Capitaine Rascasse (1926).
   Hamman's career extended past the silent-film era into the 1930s. He starred in the films he himself directed in the 1930s, and also in Léo Joannen's Adieu les copains (1934) and Marie-Louise Iribe's Le Roi des Aulnes (1930). He also had supporting roles in Pierre Caron's Notre Dame d'amour (1936), Henri Fescourt's L'Occident (1937), Bar du sud (1938), and Vous seule que j'aime (1939), as well as in Félix Gandara's Tamara la complaisante (1937). His last role was an uncredited one in Sacha Guitry's Napoléon (1955). Although Hamman did not make Westerns after World War I, his place in film history was defined by his role in those early Westerns he did make. He is remembered to this day as "the French John Wayne."

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hamman, Joë — (1885 1974)    Actor and director. Joë Hamman was born Jean Hamman in Paris. His father was a painter and his mother a lady in waiting to the Empress Eugénie, so Hamman was surrounded by the world of arts and letters and Parisian high society. He …   Guide to cinema

  • HAMMAN, Joe — (1885–1974)    Joe Hamman was a longtime French actor and director. Early in his career, Hamman played the popular cowboy called Arizona Bill in French silent Westerns. In Pendaison a Jefferson City (Hanging at Jefferson City) (1910), Bill… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • Hamman, Joë — (Jean Hamman / October 26, 1883, Paris, France June 30, 1974, Dieppe, Seine Maritime, France)    Of Dutch descent, he was born and grew up in Paris. After completing his secondary studies in France and Great Britain, he moved to the USA, where he …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

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