Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

THE CHASE (1946)

Peter Lorre, Steve Cochran, and Bob Cummings as chauffeur
THE CHASE (1946). Director: Arthur D. Ripley.

Ex-serviceman Chuck Scott (Robert Cummings) finds a wallet on the sidewalk and returns it to its owner, the quite unsavory hoodlum Eddie Roman (Steve Cochran). Roman, who has an associate named Gino (Peter Lorre) and a wife named Lorna (Michele Morgan), hires Chuck as his chauffeur. A peculiar feature of the limo is that Roman can take over the controls from the back seat whenever he wants. Roman dispatches a business rival by trapping him in his wine cellar with a vicious dog, so it's fairly likely that he won't have a good reaction when a desperate Lorna begs Chuck to help her escape to Havana ... The Chase begins well, with Cochran offering a chilling portrait of a glib sociopath, but it gets too tricky and an actual "chase" never really develops. Instead of a decent plot and some interesting developments, The Chase substitutes a lengthy dream sequence that serves little purpose besides confusing the viewer. Cummings is always miscast in film noir, but otherwise does okay, and Lorre simply isn't given enough to do. Michele Morgan is pretty and seems efficient enough, but she's also under-utilized. This movie goes nowhere slowly. Loosely based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich that just had to be much, much better.

Verdict: Cochran's picture -- and he can have it. **.

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