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SECOND CHANCE (director: Rudolph Mate; screenwriters: Sydney Boehm/D.M. Marshman, Jr./Oscar Millard/Robert R. Presnell, Sr./story by Mr. Marshman, Jr.; cinematographer: William Snyder; editor: Robert Ford; music: Roy Webb; cast: Robert Mitchum (Russ Lambert), Linda Darnell (Clare Shepard), Jack Palance (Cappy Gordon), Roy Roberts (Charley Malloy), Reginald Sheffield (Mr. Woburn), Magaret Brewster (Mrs. Woburn), Dan Seymour ( Felipe), Sandro Giglio (Cable Car Conductor), Fortunio Bonanova ( Mandy, hotel owner), Rodolfo Hoyos Jr.(Vasco), Richard Vera (Pablo), Salvador Baguez (Officer Hernandez); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Wiesenthal; RKO; 1953)
“An enjoyable thriller that is told in a straight-forward manner.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Rudolph Mate directs a film originally made in 3-D, that is filmed in a beautifully gaudy pastel-shaded Technicolor. It’s an enjoyable thriller that is told in a straight-forward manner, with no deeper meaning intended than the knowledge gained that life offers second chances. Both the suspenseful story and the charismatic acting by the trio of sneering villain Jack Palance and sexy stars Robert Mitchum and Linda Darnell, held this viewer’s interest.

It’s set in a contemporary unnamed South American country (filmed in Mexico). Former big-time prizefighter Russ Lambert (Robert Mitchum) has been barnstorming in the bush leagues with manager Charley Malloy hoping to again get a shot at the crown in Madison Square Garden. Russ has gone downhill after he killed a fighter in the ring with his lethal right-handed punch and feels he doesn’t want to chance hitting another opponent with his best stuff. Russ refuses to throw his fierce right-handed punch, but has still won all his fights with lesser opponents by points. Clare Shepard (Linda Darnell) dumped her gangster boyfriend but he wants her rubbed out since she’s set to testify against him in a Senate hearing. Vicious bodyguard Cappy Gordon (Jack Palance) is the triggerman who has been sent to take care of her, but he’s obsessed with her and wishes to keep her alive so she can be his gangster moll.

After failing to get enough money to skip town and fly to Lima by betting her earrings with fence Felipe against Russ Lambert knocking out his opponent, which he easily does at his manager’s urgings, she arranges with Felipe to meet the ruggedly handsome boxer and get her earrings back. They go by cable car to a mountain top where a fiesta celebrating a wedding is taking place and the courteous Russ wines and dines her at a luxury romantic hotel, and they fall in love. But Clare remains guarded, not wanting to get nice guy Russ involved with her gangster enemies. They remain overnight, as Russ arranges for them to miss the last cable car back to town. After spending an innocent evening together, they make plans to be together from now on and she tells him the secret name only her loving father called her.

The wormy Felipe rats out where Clare is and Cappy follows her there. After tailing her at night, in the morning he barges into her room and threatens to kill Russ unless she deserts him and leaves on the next cable car with him. Russ catches her running out on him, and in the cable car punches out Cappy. But the cable car breaks and in order to avoid a catastrophe, someone has to climb down from high above the deep abyss where the wire is dangling from the pulley and bring two spare cars stored in the mountain to take them down to safety. The broken cable car scenes are filled with tension, action and heroics, and lead to a satisfying climax for this minor work.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”