Depicts the 30-year love affair between hard-drinking, promiscuous writers Dashiell Hammett (Shepard) and Lillian Hellman (Davis). Meeting in the 1930s, the successful Hammett becomes the up-and-coming Hellman's mentor. Though both are married, they also begin an affair. Eventually, their positions are reversed as Hammett's career declines and, after serving in WWII, he becomes increasingly plagued by ill health. Meanwhile, playwright Hellman has her own trials when she's blacklisted in the '50s during the Red Scare.