HAMER, ROBERT (1911-1963). Every national cinema has examples of a director who demonstrates talent well above the ordinary who, after a few excellent films, suddenly falters. One such director was Robert Hamer. It is hard to think of a sequence of British films by one director (except perhaps Alfred Hitchcock's* films between 1934 and 1937) better than Pink String and Sealing Wax* (1945), It Always Rains on Sunday* (1947), Kind Hearts and Coronets* (1949), and The Spider and the Fly* (1949). Yet, by 1954 and To Paris with Love, Hamer's talent, as shown in his early films, was not so evident. By 1963, he was dead from symptoms associated with his alcoholism.
Hamer was the son of British character actor Gerald Hamer. After an education at Cambridge University, he worked for London Films as a clapper boy and by 1938, at Denham, he was a cutting room assistant for Erich Pommer. At Denham, Hamer edited St. Martin's Lane (1938), Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939), and other films before joining Ealing Studios in 1941 as an editor and, from 1943, an associate producer.
Hamer made his directorial debut with the “Haunted Mirror” sequence in the portmanteau fantasy thriller Dead of Night* (1946). This segment, depicting the mirror worlds of respectability and evil, a recurring theme in Hamer's best films, which focused more on the dark side of human nature. Thus, in Pink String and Sealing Wax, the dangerous world of Googie Wither's* public house disturbs and overwhelms the sterile domesticity of Mervyn Johns' Victorian family. Similarly, in Hamer's masterpiece Kind Hearts and Coronets, audience pleasure is derived from watching Denis Price wreak havoc on the D'Ascoyne family. Hamer's preceding film, It Always Rains on Sunday, shows a family, and a community, breaking down under the pressures of sexual desire and marital betrayal. In Hamer's next film, The Spider and the Fly, expedience and male friendship overpower the constraints of the law and heterosexual romance.