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The Chase

USA 1946
produced by
Seymour Nebenzal for Nero Film
directed by Arthur D.Ripley
starring Robert Cummings, Michèle Morgan, Peter Lorre, Steve Cochran, Lloyd Corrigan, Jack Holt, Don Wilson, Alex Minotis, Nina Koshetz, Yolanda Lacca, James Westerfield, Jimmy Ames, Shirley O'Hara
screenplay by Philip Yordan, based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Miami, 1946: Even though he is down on his luck & out of money, Scott (Robert Cummings), finding a wallet containing some 80 Dollars, decides to bring it back to its rightful owner, Eddie Roman (Steve Cochran), & out of gratitude, Roman offers him a job as his chauffeur. & even though Roman clearly is a sadist & a gangster, & Roman's right-hand man Gino (Peter Lorre) doesn't like him one bit, Scott gladly accepts.

Soon Scott becomes acquainted with Roman's wife Lorna (Michèle Morgan) too, who is clearly unhappy in her marriage & who has Scott take her for extensive drives top the seaside , where she confides in him, & persuades him to take her to Havannah, away from Roman.

Scott makes all the necessary preperations to make a unnoticed getaway with his boss's wife, & even though Roman & Gino seem to begin to suspect something, everything somehow works out & the two are on a boat to Havannah, & even a tender romance starts ...

In Havannah though, visiting a bar, Lorna is stabbed to death in public, & the only (logical) suspect is Scott, & he is of course arrested by the police. And however hard he tries to prove his innocence, every evidence he comes up with rather unexpectedly points even more to his direction ... so Scott makes a swift getaway, & tries to hunt down a few clues on his own: a photographer whom he saw in the bar & who might have photographed something, but who turns up dead once Scott finds him, & a souvenir-shop owner who has given the police a false testimonial against Scott ... which is where Scott meets Gino again, & Gino kills him in cold blood and ...

Scott wakes up in Miami, still wearing his chauffeur's uniform, but unable to remember anything of the story but being killed in Havannah. In desperation, Scott calls Commander Davidson (Jack Holt), an army doctor, & it turns out that Scott is suffering from anxiety neurosis caused by his war-experiences. Slowly Scott tries to figure out what has happened (& how much of it is true), while he knows he has to do something at 9 o'clock, but has no idea what ... which becomes clear when the narration switches to Roman's house, where Lorna is desperately waiting for Scott to fetch her (in vain of course), while Roman, having figured something definitely is wrong, locks her in before going out with Gino ...

Only slowly it begins to dawn on Scott that he actually did want to accompany Lorna to Havannah, & eventually he even goes to fetch her, freeing her from Roman's prison ... but it might be too late since Roman has learned from an acquaintance that Scott did buy tickets to Havannah the same afternoon, & desperately he & Gino try to get to the pier before Scott's & Lorna's ship can leave for Havannah ... so desperately so that their car crashes with a train, finally setting Lorna & Scott free ...

 

A great, largely overlooked film noir, that features quite a clever plottwist to turn the story topsy turvy (granted, the "it was all a dream"-plottwist wasn't entirely new even back then, but it was hardly ever used in such an imaginative way), taking the "a man tries to prove his innocence"-formula into a completely new direction, & it all works without letting the tension drop. All-around great performances of course do not hurt either.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD