The Chase (1946)

  • Year: 1946
  • Released: 10 Mar 1947
  • Country: United States
  • Adwords: 1 nomination
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • MPA Rating: Approved
  • Genre: Crime, Film-Noir, Romance
  • Runtime: 86 min
  • Writer: Philip Yordan, Cornell Woolrich
  • Director: Arthur Ripley
  • Cast: Robert Cummings, Michèle Morgan, Steve Cochran
  • Keywords: chauffeur, film noir, veteran, havana, cuba,
44% – Critics
44% – Audience

The Chase Storyline

In Miami, the unemployed veteran of war Chuck Scott finds a wallet on the street and has breakfast in a restaurant. When he sees the name and address of the owner, Chuck, who is a honest man, decides to return the wallet to the owner. He goes to the mansion of Eddie Roman and is received by his assistant Gino. Eddie appreciates the honesty of Chuck and offers the job of chauffeur to him. Soon Chuck learns that Eddie is a crime boss and befriends his beautiful wife Lorna Roman, who is fearful of Eddi. One night, she confides him that she would like to go to Cuba and Chuck buys the ticket for them two. They head to Havana in the ship Cuba and have a love affair. When they are in a restaurant, Lorna is stabbed and Chuck is framed and chased by the Cuban police. Out of the blue, he wakes up amnesic in his room. What has happened to Chuck?—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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The Chase Movie Reviews

A Little Cheating Going On

This has a nice premise. It has some great bits, especially the car. The problem is in the motivations of a troubled mind. The dream sequence is a bit of cheating, in my eyes. It seems a little too easy to throw it in there and give the characters a second chance. Also, is the Cummings character just a little off his rocker as well. Anyway, there are wonderful camera angles, nice pacing, threat, psychosis and lots of other neat things that could have been just a little more compact. I love Peter Lorre’s musings and victimization. He whines better than any actor in the history of film. He must know from one day to the next that his connection with the bad guy is going to cost him dearly somewhere down the line. Live for today, I guess.

Have you ever been afraid? Really afraid?

The Chase is directed by Arthur Ripley and adapted to screenplay by Philip Yordan from the novel The Black Path of Fear written by Cornell Woolrich. It stars Robert Cummings, Steve Cochran, Michèle Morgan, Peter Lorre and Jack Holt. Music is by Michel Michelet and cinematography comes from Frank F. Planer. Plot finds Cummings as World War II veteran Chuck Scott, drifting and skint, he finds a wallet and returns it to the owner. The owner is one Eddie Roman (Cochran), an apparently wealthy and thriving business man who repays Chuck’s honesty by giving him a job as a chauffeur. Nothing from here on in will ever be the same….

The Chase is one of those films that fell in to the public domain, got a cult following in spite of the number of bad prints out there, and now arguably deserves a place on the must see list of film noir enthusiasts. Bad prints aside, The Chase deals in oppressive atmosphere and lives in the void caught between a dream and a nightmare. Ripley (Thunder Road 1958) crafts his whole film in a dream state, keeping it mostly nocturnal, he and photographer Franz Planer thrive on Woolrich’s premise and use slow pacing and shadow play to smoother the characters. It feels stifling, odd even, but with a couple of tricks up his sleeve, Ripley garners maximum impact by disorientating the viewer for the wonderfully absurd ending. Some may call out cheat, others are likely to enjoy its Wellesian feel, either way it’s certainly a film that can’t be called dull.

Cummings is fine as the good guy suddenly finding his world shifting sideways in a blur of pills, sleep and perfume, while Morgan registers nicely – even if ultimately she’s underused and often her character is just there to make a romantic point. Cochran, in only his second year of acting, is a dominating and frightening force as the handsome and oily Roman. It’s a menacing portrayal of a character who slaps his women around and literally will stop at nothing to get his way. But even Cochran is trumped by yet another weasel turn from Lorre, standing on the side of his boss spitting flem as well as sarcastic quips, Lorre alone is enough to seek the film out for a viewing. Good secondary support comes from Jack Holt in an important small role.

It doesn’t push any boundaries or hold up as being hugely influential in the film noir cycle. But it’s a relevant piece of work in that cycle, and certainly recommended to those interested in dream like oppression. 7/10

Totally bizarre and absolutely unmissable

As a director Arthur Ripley only made six feature films but nothing in that short career quite prepares you for the gem that was “The Chase”, which he made in 1946 and which Philip Yordan adapted from a Cornell Woolrich story. It’s certainly bizarre, as down-on-his-luck Robert Cummings, (why Robert Cummings I keep asking myself), finds a wallet belonging to gangster Steve Cochran who, when he returns it, hires him as a chauffeur and that’s when his troubles really begin, particularly when Cochran’s frightened wife, Michele Morgan, asks him to help her get away from her husband.

Everything about this film is surprising and I just don’t mean the plot. Cochran’s a thug but he lives in a kitsch mansion filled with marble statues and he likes to listen to classical music while Cumming’s a veteran who is also a dab hand on the piano. Perhaps the biggest surprise is just how good both these actors are. Being a gangster Cochran naturally has to have a henchman and as always Peter Lorre is superb in the part. About midway through you might start to get an idea in which direction this very strange movie is going and you may even be right…but on the other hand. Needless to say, “The Chase” has all but disappeared but if any film deserves cult status this is it. Unmissable.