Jason Robards won his second consecutive Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Dashiell Hammett in Julia.
Robards creates Hammett as he should be and his chemistry is interesting with Fonda. Robards finds the right tone in their scenes to be a mentor, a critic as well as her lover. Robards shows how Hammett simply prods and pushes Lillian in his own way sometimes quietly sometimes a little louder. Robards is very natural in showing Hammett easy but effective manner in which he motivates Lillian that is both warm with some coldness, gentle but with some harshness.
The only problem I really have with the performance has nothing do to with the performance but the film itself. The film only is slightly interested in Lillian's and Dashiell's relationship, it is always far more interested in an overarching fashion Lillian relationship to the titular Julia. I find that this is unfortunate as despite being given less of a focus Fonda and Robards more fully realize their relationship than Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave do.
I wish they had been given much more time in the film, since Robards shows such promise all throughout this performance. Watching this performance almost feels like parts of a great performance, but the whole is missing. The missing part unfortunately is not do to Robards, but the film never bothered to let Robards fulfill the rest of the role, which he surely could have.
Do not get me wrong though this is a very good performance actually, that I only wish had been given more importance to the film as whole. Do to this it is only bits and pieces of a great characterization and some parts are only briefly mentioned when they could have been fully explored. Such as his whole inability to write which is said but not explored. It is a good performance though, but I do think it could ahve been great if only the film had allowed for it.