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CHASE, THE(director: Arthur Ripley; screenwriters: from a Cornell Woolrich novel “The Black Path of Fear”/Philip Yordan; cinematographer: Franz Planer; editor: Edward Mann; cast: Robert Cummings (Chuck Scott), Peter Lorre (Gino), Michèle Morgan (Lorna Roman), Steve Cochran (Eddie Roman), Lloyd Corrigan (Emmerick Johnson), Jack Holt (Commander Davidson), Don Wilson (Fats); Runtime: 84; Silver Screen Video/United Artists; 1946)
“This film noir is memorable for its dark dream-like feel.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

When a shell-shocked ex-serviceman, filled with horrible dreams, experiencing hard times, Chuck Scott (Cummings), finds a wallet with over $80, he returns it to the home of a wealthy Miami businessman, Eddie Roman (Cochran). As a reward for his honesty, he’s hired as a chauffeur.

Soon Chuck sees that he’s working for a crooked businessman whose sinister aide, Gino (Lorre), is always menacing. Chuck observes that when a rival shipping businessman, Emmerick Johnson (Corrigan), is invited over for dinner, he is never seen again. Johnson was locked in a wine cellar and a vicious dog was set on him and his body dumped in the ocean, when he wouldn’t do business with Roman.

Chuck also sees that Roman’s wife of three years, Lorna (Morgan), is unhappy and feels hopelessly trapped in this marriage, as on one of the drives he takes her to a lonely beach spot where she tells him how cruel her husband is and how she must escape to Havana. Lorna offers Chuck $1,000 to take her there. He agrees, and after he buys the tickets they plan to leave that evening. But Chuck feels ill and when he lies down, he has a nightmare.

In his dream, Chuck imagines falling in love with Lorna and arriving in Havana. When Chuck is dancing with her, someone steals the knife he just bought in a souvenir shop and stabs Lorna fatally in the back. Chuck gets blamed for killing her and can’t convince the police otherwise, so he runs from them through the back streets of Havana. That is how the film got its title of “The Chase.” It was a fascinating scene, darkly capturing the tortured mind of Chuck and the stifling atmosphere of Cuba during the mid-forties.

When Chuck awakens from the dream, where he dreamed that Gino killed Lorna and then him, he calls his psychiatrist from the service, Navy Commander Davidson (Holt). They meet in Miami’s Florida Club to unwind over a few drinks, and the amnesiac Chuck suddenly remembers he has to keep an appointment with Lorna to take her to Havana tonight.

Warning: spoiler to follow in the next paragraph.

Roman realizes that Lorna is trying to escape to Havana and with Gino driving, they try to stop them. Wanting to go faster, Roman uses a trick accelerator device in the back seat of his limo that allows him to control the speed. When trying to overtake a train, the two are killed. Chuck and Lorna arrive safely in Havana, and wind up in the same nightclub he saw in his dream. They kiss and swear to stay together forever.

This film noir is memorable for its dark dream-like feel, as reality becomes indistinguishable from the dream sequences. Because of those shots, this film became a cult classic; but, it is one that is rarely shown on TV. The film was adapted from a Cornell Woolrich book — he is a noted writer of the Black Mask mystery school. They specialize in dark and expressionistic works, which this film is perfect example of.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”