Romance, Drama, Mystery | 86 Mins. | Released: 1946
Director: Arthur Ripley
Starring: Robert Cummings, Michele Morgan, Steve Cochran, Lloyd Corrigan, Jack Holt, Don Wilson, Alexis Minotis
Our Rating: 7
Black & White
Returning a lost wallet gains unemployed veteran Chuck Scott a job as chauffeur to Eddie Roman, a seeming gangster whose enemies have a way of meeting violent ends. The job proves nerve-wracking, and soon Chuck finds himself pledged to help Eddie’s lovely, fearful, prisoner-wife Lorna to escape. The result leaves Chuck caught like a rat in a trap, vainly seeking a way out through dark streets. But the real chase begins when the strange plot virtually starts all over again…
REVIEW of The Chase:
A Must-See Classic Film-Noir
by msroz, July 2016
“The Chase” (1946) received a restoration in 2012 managed by UCLA film and television archive. It’s really fantastic. This is very simply an excellent film. The cinematography of Franz Planer is heavily noir, fitting the film’s mood and narrative perfectly. I could not appreciate fully the movie in the mediocre prints that had been in circulation for years. I heartily recommend the restored print.
The story made a deeper impression upon me this time around. The dreamy love attraction between Robert Cummings and Michèle Morgan contrasted so much with the gangsterism of her husband Steve Cochran and his ever-cynical right-hand man, Peter Lorre. Cochran’s cruelty, greed, violent nature and suspicion are brought out fully. Havana becomes a place of shadowy danger, an inexplicable trap during the sequence in which Cummings and Morgan make an escape.
Director Arthur Ripley’s collaboration with writer Philip Yordan (based on a Cornell Woolrich story) and with Planer paid off in a piece with tremendous atmosphere. An important part of it is done symbolically and metaphorically rather than with dialog or pat explanations. That lifts it out of the realm of the ordinary and makes it timeless and mysterious. We feel the symbols and have to understand them at a non-conscious level. These include a strange car in which Cochran can control the speed from the back seat, and he subjects drivers Lorre and Cummings to an ordeal that frightens them and demands control as they race against a speeding train. A strange dagger plays a part, one with a jade handle depicting one of the set “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. A murder is part of a conspiracy that engulfs Cummings. Cochran’s home is outfitted in an unusual Greco-Roman style. He dresses impeccably. His relationship with Morgan is practically to imprison her. Cochran keeps a large dog who seems very friendly but who kills a victim who won’t sell out to Cochran. Morgan is attracted to the pounding surf and almost seems on the verge of suicide. The waters mirror the depth of turmoil in her life and soul. Cummings in his chauffeur’s uniform symbolizes a calm and unswerving rescuer, unafraid. The door to Cochran’s mansion has a peephole and Cummings’ first entry is greeted with great suspicion.
When Jack Holt appears, who has been the doctor of Cummings, helping him overcome anxiety neurosis from military service, we learn that some of what we have seen has been faulty memory of Cummings. In this way and through the extended dream sequence, the lines between dream, imagination, distorted memory and reality are all blurred.
The ending in Havana caps that blurring by completing a circle of repetition between dream and reality.
This is really quite a film.
Catch The Chase If You Can
by melvilvit-1 July 2007
In Miami, Chuck Scott (Robert Cummings), a decorated war veteran down on his luck, finds a wallet on the street and returns it to its owner, wealthy Eddie Roman (Steve Cochran). He’s offered a job on the spot as Roman’s live-in chauffeur but quickly learns that his benefactor is a murderous racketeer who keeps his beautiful wife, Lorna (Michele Morgan), a virtual prisoner in their lavish mansion. Scott and Lorna find themselves thrown together due to his duties and soon fall in love. The pair make their escape and sail to Cuba but any happiness is short-lived; Lorna is knifed in a nightclub and Scott is framed for her murder. He soon finds himself on the run from both the police and Roman’s ruthless henchman, Gino (Peter Lorre)…
Opinion is divided on this seldom-seen Film Noir based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel “The Black Path Of Fear”: Alain Silver in his “Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference To The American Style” feels, “THE PHANTOM LADY excepted, THE CHASE is the best cinematic equivalent of the dark, oppressive atmosphere that characterizes most of Cornell Woolrich’s best fiction” while Robert Ottoson in “The American Film Noir 1940-1958″ opines, “It is tempting to review the Woolrich novel instead of the film”. Cornell Woolrich’s writing has been likened to “the woozy paranoia of a dream” and in THE CHASE’s Havana scenes that quality is successfully transferred to film. The city is a shadowy, sinister and claustrophobic place with seemingly no way out offset by a sunny Miami; this is due in no small part to the chiaroscuro cinematography of Franz F. Planer. The plot takes the premise of Fritz Lang’s WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and goes it one better with the final twist blurring the distinction between reality, dream and premonition. Although the story unfolds in linear time there are a number of surprising turns along with many of the themes/motifs present in the best Film Noir. A post-war cynicism and sense of irony are never very far from the surface of the story; right from the start, the returning of Roman’s wallet symbolizes the adage, “No good deed goes unpunished”. Chuck Scott is a traumatized war veteran who can’t afford a decent meal while the wicked live in sun-dappled splendor; when Roman tells Scott he deserves a medal for being so honest, Scott replies “I already have one”. Eddie Roman’s world is an ugly one and his tentacles are far-reaching -women are backhanded for minor infractions, a man’s courage is tested just for kicks, and anyone that gets in the way is either shot, stabbed, or ripped apart by dogs. Capably directed by Arthur Ripley from a screenplay by Phillip Yordan, the standout in the cast is young Steve Cochran; his Eddie Roman is a dangerous, glassy-eyed psychopath devoid of human emotion.
Overall, THE CHASE is less than the sum of its parts -but some parts of it are 10/10! Not knowing too much about the plot can add immensely to the enjoyment of the film -so don’t go seeking more info until after you see it. The public domain DVD I have promises “Guaranteed 100% Hollyweird!” and that’s the truth but the print does have some scratches, blips, and bubbles. Apparently, VCI’s “restored” DVD isn’t much better; a scroll at the beginning states it’s the best that could be done considering the deteriorated original elements. Pick it up any way you can as the quality is probably going to be about the same no matter the source.